Hello. Let me introduce myself. My name is Button, and I am a chocolate Labrador.
When I was very young I didn’t have a name and spent time running round a farm with my doggie brothers and sisters. When I was six weeks old I was taken by a loving human family and they gave me the name of Button, which is a nice name I think, don’t you? It does seem to suit me.
When I left my mum, and brothers and sisters I was quite sad for a while. I missed cuddling up at night with other furry bodies, and missed the licks my mum gave me every day, but I soon got used to my new family and realised that they loved me just as much. It wasn’t long before I as good as forgot my doggie family and come to think of the humans as my only family. Sometimes when we were out walking we would bump into one of my brothers or sisters with their new human family. It was then that I remembered them as we greeted each other in the usual, bottom sniffing fashion. This was something that humans never got used to, but for us it was very normal.
My human family was Ted, Rosa and baby Susie. When I joined their family Susie was just a year old, and we soon became the best of friends, despite her being even more clumsy than me. They also had a black cat, who at first I was scared of, but we soon became the best of friends. I often used to share my bed at night with Fang, for that was her name. Sharing my bed with her was comforting after no longer having my other family there. Like I said, at first I didn’t know my name, as I didn’t really have one on the farm. It was only because Ted and Rose would repeat it over and over as they patted their legs that I gradually learnt that it was me they were talking to and that my name was Button. All that seems so long ago now. Ahh happy memories. Apparently they called me button because of my big brown button nose.
The family were very kind to me and fed me very well, which was good, as eating was one of the things I enjoyed doing the most. When they weren’t looking I used to steal Fang’s food, but as she was much older than me she didn’t seem to mind. I really loved food so much. I remember once when Rose left some cheese out on the counter, so close to my nose that I couldn’t resist. Luckily for me the phone rang and Rose went off to answer it. There was my opportunity. I snaffled the whole block quickly. When Rose came back from her phone call she was a bit confused as she couldn’t remember if she had got the cheese out or not. When she realised that she had and it must have been taken by me I got a good scolding, but that was OK. I really enjoyed the cheese and a little scolding from my mum wasn’t that bad a price to pay.
My eating habits were often a concern for my family. Ted once found me tidying up the cat’s litter tray and told me that he thought I was the grossest thing he could ever imagine. Of course I was hurt by his words. Often humans think we don’t understand what you are saying. We may not get all the words but we always get the meaning of what you are saying. I just thought it was a natural thing to do. Humans really do miss out on some of the most nutritious snacks simply because they can’t think out of the box.
After I had been with Ted, Rose and Susie for a few weeks I was taken off to doggie school. That is where they tried to teach me some of their rules, but it was also a place where I met some of my lifelong friends. There was Barnie, the Saint Bernard. He was a great hulk of a thing but such a sweetie. Alexandra was a poodle who was very intelligent, but not as fast as me, and occasionally she could be a bit snooty. Dannie the dachshund was a fun character, but sadly he didn’t stay the course. Anyway it was a fun time where we played the game the humans wanted and got some terrific reward for doing so. When the training course had finished some of us still met up occasionally in the local park when our humans went walking with us.
The first few years with Ted, Rose and Susie were great fun. Susie and I played together most of the day, although sometimes she was a little rough I loved her with all my being. Then came the time for her to go to training school too. But she was away all day, so I was left with no-one to play with, and at times Rose got annoyed when I tried to get her to play. She often said she was too busy, but I could see that she was really too tired. Some days when all Rose’s chores were done we’d sit in the garden together under the cherry tree. She’d sit on the old bench and I’d sit beside her. Almost without thinking she used to tickle my ears and tell me how it was between her and Ted.
Although Susie was at her training school for a lot of the day whenever she came home we’d play together again and go for long walks. During the summer she didn’t have to go to the school for the longest time and we’d spend days out together running down to the river, and sometimes we’d even swim in it together, although she always told me to promise not to tell Ted and Rose about it later. As if I ever would. Those summer days were wonderful times. Often Susie’s friend Angeline would join us and bring her dog, Panther along too. Panther was a Black Labrador and we got on famously. I even heard Ted say once that had he not had the snip he would have l0ved to have bred us. What a crazy idea, me with Panther’s puppies.
When I was five I did have a bit of a wild time, sanctioned by Ted and Rose, with Jet, another chocolate Lab. They took me to somewhere called a stud farm, where I was introduced to Jet. He smelt so good. He was a good looking man and every inch the stud. This liaison ended up with me having his puppies. In all I had six babies. The giving birth wasn’t much fun, especially with so many humans there watching and cheering me on, but the couple of months I got to spend with my children were wonderful. When the children were about six weeks old Ted and Rose came and talked to me as parents to parent. They told me that it wouldn’t be possible for all the children to stay living with us, but that they had found caring homes for every one of them except the smallest, who they had called Slip, because ‘he was a wee slip of a thing’ they said. Slip would be living with us, which was a comfort, but the others were picked up by their new human families one by one. Naturally I was very sad to see them leave, and secretly cried myself to sleep some nights, but I know it was the right thing to do. I still see some of them now, and even their children. Yes I am a proud grandmother.
Living with the family had so many benefits. The kept me healthy with regualr trips to the vet’s office. At first I didn’t like to go there. The smells at his office weren’t all good smells, but little by little I got to trust him, especially when he fed me a chewy stick on each visit. However neither my humans, nor the vet, could keep me healthy forever. When I was fourteen years old I started to leave puddles. I just couldn’t control myself. I was so embarrassed, especially when I wet in my bed one night. Slip was worried about me, and tried to accept the blame, but Ted and Rose knew who the culprit was.
Ted and Rose were of course very concerned, as they knew that the wetting everywhere was out of character for me, so they took me to see the vet. He checked me over with all the usual tests and even took some blood, which wasn’t my favourite ever experience. After that visit Ted had to give me a tablet twice a day. They tasted terrible so I did anything I could not to take them, but in the end Ted usually won the battle. Afterwards he’d sit with me awhile and tell me how much he loved me.
The pills helped for a while, but gradually I lost weight and felt weaker and weaker. Another trip to the vet’s was booked urgently. Before we left in Ted’s car I said goodbye to Slip. I knew what was coming. As I sat on the vet’s table he told Ted and Rose that there really was nothing he could do, and that they should let me go kindly. Needless to say there were many tears as they made their decision.
Telling me how much they loved me and that they were doing everything for the best they allowed the vet to give me a strong sedative, from which I knew I wasn’t going to wake up. My last vision on earth as I drifted to sleep were the beautiful but sad faces of my humans as they said goodbye.
But enough of that now. Enough of the tears. As soon as I left my aching body my spirit, for yes dogs do have spirits contrary to some unkind books saying that we don’t, flew and came to where I am telling you my story now. I am now in a place called ‘Home’. This is the place where all spirits start and end, a place where we all dwell. It is a timeless place full of happiness. It is a place that is pain-free and formless. From time to time I see all my old friends and we have great times together. Some of my children are already here too, not having had such a good or long life as I was lucky enough to have. The old postman from our street sometime passes by and we have a chase too. Fang, my humans’ old cat is here and we still spend a lot of time together. My time on earth as Button may have been over a long time by now but I am still here, happy and waiting for my human family, and the rest of my children, to come join me.