Saying goodbye to an old friend

Lab

The following post will not be happy, and will only barely relate to ham radio. If you have ever owned a dog, you may not want to read this post.

The illustration up top there is a stylish drawing of Sweet Pea, our 13-1/2-year-old lab-mutt. Sadly, we had to say goodbye to her on Friday.

Two years ago, the vets discovered a large tumor in her abdomen. We didn’t think she had much time left then, but her will was strong. It was like nothing was wrong with her. A few weeks ago, we noticed her breathing had become very labored and she wasn’t as active as usual. She didn’t want to get up and eat, and it seemed like her arthritis was troubling her more than usual. A lot of that was just her age, but the most recent diagnosis showed congestive heart failure. The vet prescribed a host of medications and we hoped for the best.

In the past weeks she virtually stopped eating. She was never an overweight dog, but by now she was shockingly thin. My wife tried several different brands of dog food, and eventually resorted to cooking her chicken breasts, which she seemed to enjoy. Thursday night, Sweet Pea wouldn’t even eat those. By Friday morning we knew it was time to say goodbye.

Funny thing about the situation was that Sweet Pea got excited when we hooked up the leash to her collar. She always enjoyed riding in the car. Yet she was so weak, my wife had to pick her up to place her in the back seat. I’m trying not to be haunted by the final look she had on her face as I watched her through the car window. She seemed very happy. I couldn’t help but think we were making the wrong choice — a feeling that I feel certain every dog lover has had when faced with this choice.

So ham radio… If you have ever received one of my QSL cards, you have one of the greatest artistic tributes to Sweet Pea. I am so happy that I commissioned Jeff, K1NSS, last year to create my QSL card artwork. I chose him especially for his ability to draw dogs with great humanity and reverence and he didn’t disappoint. The sketch up top was a bonus drawing he included.

Sweet Pea will not only live on in our memory, but in Jeff’s art, and emblazoned on the QSL cards I have sent out and will continue to send. We should all be so lucky!

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