You've never heard of Elmo, but he passed away last Saturday morning. Meglyn's King of the Hill (Elmo) was my grandson Zach's first Lab. I still recall vividly when Zachie, at 4, called me up just before Christmas just jabbering unintelligibly. The only word I caught was "Elmo." My daughter got on the phone and told me that Zach was trying to tell me that Santa had brought him a Chrstmas present early because the present "was chewing up his sleigh" and that Zach had named his new puppy Elmo. I let my daughter and son-in-law use my kennel name, but Elmo came from a backyard breeding that I would never have condoned. Don't get me wrong. I loved him and he always made me smile when he came running to greet me. He was a big ole yellow hulk of a Lab, gentle as can be, a real sweetie. Never ran a hunt test or a field trial in his life; never even went hunting. But, he made us all happy and that's what's important in the end. He stayed with me for a few months when he was young for training and I'll be making a copy of the video of Elmo's introduction to water for Zachie for his birthday next month. Elmo's 12th birthday was Sept. 25, but we never thought he'd make it past 6 or so. He had the worst cases of allergies I've ever seen. When they showed up at about 4, I gave him a shot of specially prepared serum once a week. When that stopped working a few years later, the only thing that worked was some medication that cost $450/month. I knew that my daughter and son-in-law could not afford that and I didn't want Zachie to lose his dog, so I paid for it. Finally, a few years later, a generic, much cheaper, arrived on the market. When that stopped working, they finally, reluctantly, went to steroids, understanding that it might shorten his life. But 12 was good. Twelve was unexpected. My daughter called me last week while I was out of town training to say that Elmo was failing fast and she was taking him to the vet. There was a tumor and the vet also thought some neurologic problems starting. He was reluctant to get up, rarely went upstairs to the bedrooms and seemed to be in a lot of pain. She called me crying on Friday to say that the vet thought it may be time and that they were going to have a family talk to decide. Zach did not take it well. He'll be 16 next month and Elmo was his first dog. I was told he ran up to bed and cried when they told him the prognosis. They called me Saturday early while I was running at Central Kentucky to tell me that they had a 9:40 vet appointment to say goodbye to Elmo. They promised me that they would be with him when he left us - something I insist on. We all had a cry over the phone. Elmo, and, of course, Zach, were on my mind all day long. I called my daughter Saturday night to see how it went. She said that all except my 8 year old granddaughter, who sat outside, were with him, telling him we all love him, when he slipped away. Zachie wanted to stay with him afterward a bit more and they left him alone for 20 minutes for a private time with his buddy. I'm proud of my grandson. Godspeed, Elmo. Go play with Sadie, Abbi, Maggie, Chevy and Belle. We'll all meet in time beyond the Rainbow Bridge.
Elmo, Sept. 25, 1996-Oct. 25, 2008.