Closing the Book on Val (Feb 14, 1994- Nov 25, 2008)


I stood facing away from the other patrons with Val’s leash and colar in my left hand and a receipt for $89 in my right. I tried to maintain some kind of dignity, but there was no way to stop the tears. I’m a cryer, but I thought I might be able to hold it together on Val’s last trip to the vet.

It hit me when the vet stepped into the room – the fact that this was the end for Val. Her official birthday  – February 14, 1994. I always suspected it was really only close to February 14th and the date was moved as a marketing gimmick. It really didn’t matter anyway, so we named her Valentine. (I also wondered if all the pups in that litter ended up with the same name.)

The Vet tried to talk to me, but I just kept repeating, “It’s time, yes it’s time.”

And, she went peacefully.

Val was high octane when it was time to play. She was one of those dogs that never quit – always putting something in your lap, or at your feet. It was annoying, that was just Val.

She was a very good retriever, not great, but she took hand signals well and I could get her to most birds – even if she didn’t see them go down.

She had watery eyes all the time and she hunted pheasants best if I gave her half a benadryl (?) tablet before hunting. I think she had cronic sinus problems, so she didn’t have a great nose.

Like all dogs, she was a loyal companion.

Val’s first retrieve was on opening day of duck season in 1994. Three of us knocked down eight widgeon from a large flock at a salt pond on SF bay. She took after after a couple swimmers and retrieved two of the eight. I think we retrieved seven of the eight, with one disappearing.

Val’s final retrieve took place at Mayberry Farms on the last day of the 2006/07 waterfowl seasson. The bird she brougt me was a double-banded greenhead with a $100 reward band.

Nice upgrade Val.


4 thoughts on “Closing the Book on Val (Feb 14, 1994- Nov 25, 2008)

  1. It is hard loosing a close companion like your favorite dog, Rich. Sometimes I have to wonder if it would be better to have a 15 year average life span so we can go together or if the dogs couldn’t have a 70 year life span so they can stay with us.

    If you remember, I had a black dog with me up on the Dalton Highway. I lost her about 3 years ago to kidney failure. Last August I lost by back-up hunting partner simply to old age. She played in the basement with two 1-1/2 year olds one night then never woke up the next morning. She was 16.

    Sorry to hear about the lost of Val.


  2. Rich
    So sad to hear of your loss. Its the hardest thing I know…they truly teach us what unconditional love is, and complete acceptance and allowance . I believe we bond with them on a soul level, and they come into our lives for a reason. I hope you let yourselves grieve fully so that the healing can occur.

    When ever the wolf pack loses one of its family, the grief howl goes on for days…

    Howling with you…


  3. Hey Richard. I’m very sorry to read about Val. Pam and I have had 5 labs and its so very hard to let them go. I’ll see you this spring. Riff

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