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August 8, 1993 - April 30, 2007

This is a farewell tribute to Toby, my Yellow Lab, who was my pal and best friend for almost 14 years. He was just 8 weeks old when I picked him out of the litter and wrapped him in a warm blanket for the trip back to Mille Lacs Lake. He spent the first 6 years of his life next to the big lake, where he acquired his love for water and retrieving.

Toby had the typical Lab disposition. He was always happy, friendly, and glad to see people. And as only a dog can do, he gave me his un-conditional love. I often wonder why people have such a difficult time doing the same thing!

He would never leave home except when love was in the air. Than he would follow his instincts and roam far and wide. I remember one time finding him miles from home after following his tracks in the fresh snow on my snowmobile. He was definitely a lover!

We made many trips to Saskatchewan where we hunted ducks and geese in the stubble fields at Lake Opuntia. It was here that Toby learned to watch the decoying flocks, mark downed birds, and make multiple retrieves, never asking to rest in-between. Too few people ever witness this event - only those of us who have been lucky enough to hunt over a Lab. Thank you God for granting me that privilege.

He hunted ducks with me in Minnesota for 12 of his 14 years. I finally retired him in 2005, as I knew his aging body could no longer stand the stress of retrieving even though the desire was still there. By the spring of 2007 his breathing had become labored and I sensed the old boy was not doing well. He was diagnosed with cancer and the prognosis was not good.

The end came fast. The cancer that had invaded his body was more than he could handle. The pain killers were not working and he had stopped eating and moving around. Those sad brown eyes told me he was in terrible pain and it was time to say good by. On April 30th , my son and I took Toby to the veterinarians. We knew he would not be coming home with us. Along with my daughter, we were by his side at the end.

Now that he is in his new home in heaven, I am trying to deal with my loss and overwhelming sadness. I know I have lost something that can never be replaced. Thank you Toby for enriching my life. I will always be grateful for all the days we had together.

God reserves a special place in heaven for Labs. I know you will be happy there, and free of pain. Rest in peace old pal. And maybe someday, the good Lord willing, you and I will be together again.

73, Jim, K0JUH The Old Duck Hunter

6315987 Last modified: 2015-07-16 00:29:51, 2610 bytes

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