On Christmas Day we learned that we would get a puppy.
After much deliberation, we all agreed on a Labrador Retriever. We planned it to the last detail: Since we all wore white clothing the most we decided that a yellow lab would be best, and since we had just reseeded our lawn and didn’t want the new grass dying after being used as a bathroom we decided on a boy since he would pee on other objects rather than the lawn. We found a breeder in New Hampshire, and immediately put our names on the list. The puppies were first come first served, but I wanted to pick last, because I wanted to have the puppy nobody else wanted.
After the litter was born, eight pups in all, we had the opportunity to visit them while they were still so tiny they hadn’t opened their eyes yet. It was at this time that we first saw the litter of black labs. The breeder told us that it was a surprise. She had no idea that the dog was pregnant, she literally turned around in the pen one day and there they were; two little surprise puppies, one male and one female. I couldn’t stop looking at them.
A few weeks later it was time to pick up our dog. Though I was set to be last in line there was a complication with the breeder’s AKC show schedule, and the person before us was unable to come before the show. I was left with the difficult decision of choosing between two dogs.
One dog was very rambunctious. He kept running over to play, and of course I played with him too. But the other dog was very quiet. He was a slow mover, and all he wanted to do was lay in my lap. He had Pepto-Bismol caught in the fur around his mouth, and I knew he had to be mine. Why would anyone choose a slow, sickly looking runt over a playful guy. My mother was shocked when I scooped him up and left.
We quickly realized that he was very sick. The breeder said he had trouble keeping food down, and had terrible diarrhea. She recommended we purchase Pepto-Bismol with a feeding syringe on the way home for him.
I remember taking care of him like it was yesterday. He couldn’t eat anything, yet he still had terrible diarrhea every day. I remember watching my dad rock him in his lap with a hot water bottle to keep him comfortable. We took him to the vet every day and on the third day he recommended we call the breeder for help. We did, and she asked us to bring him back right away so she could take him to the emergency room. I remember getting the call. He didn’t make it. I was heartbroken. We hadn’t even named him yet.
The breeder asked us to return right away, as she had something for us to see. We rushed right over. When we arrived she told us that she got a phone call not even 10 minutes after our little boy passed. The family that adopted one of her dogs had to return it because their daughter turned out to be allergic. She began to explain that she was not quite what we were expecting when the sound of puppy feet drowned her out. In came the little black lab girl from the unexpected litter. She ran right for me and practically tackled me to the ground. She was just what I needed to help my wounds heal.
That story is why she was named Miracle, because that’s exactly what she was. Nobody knew she was coming, she just showed up in the pen. It was like she was born just for us. And she was perfect.
Throughout her life, Miracle was the best dog you could ever ask for. She was always very well behaved, even though she used to eat my shoes and even ate my homework once. She was never aggressive, always played nice, and always knew what you were feeling and how to comfort you. She became a foster sister at age 8 and was a great role model for four very naughty foster dogs. She put up with a lot, but even so she always kept her calm.
Her health began deteriorating at age 11. She began panting heavily at all times, and soon she sounded like she had trouble breathing. The vet told us she had larengyl paralysis. Essentially her larynx was slowly losing function and making it harder and harder to breathe. She never let it keep her down though. She would still chase the lawn mower and play soccer until she couldn’t take it anymore. The decision to let her go was presented to us long ago, so every time she wheezed we had to decide, is it time? Does she still have a good quality of life? When the doctor told us last week that if she was a human she would be on oxygen 24/7 that we knew it was time. It’s the hardest thing we’ve ever had to do.
I’ll always remember her obsession with grabbing the largest stick she could find just to make her foster brothers jealous, or how she always expected that if food was out she was entitled to a taste. I remember when there was a huge blizzard when she was 2, and she dug herself tunnels in the backyard so she could get around. She was the absolute best, and any new member of our family is definitely going to have some big shoes to fill.
Attached are our first and last pictures of Miracle. I love her so much, and there is a huge piece of my heart reserved just for her. I miss her so much, and although I would give anything to have her back I know that she’s in a better place now, where she’s free from the pain she experienced in this life and can run and play forever more.
The following excerpt was written by Sarah Wainwright about her beloved dog Miracle. #afriendforlife