Stan picked our cute black Lab out from a litter of nine puppies because he was the bold one who walked over to check us out. He was mostly Lab with some Golden Retriever mixed in.
He was quite a roly poly puppy. At first we weren't sure what to call him. "Grunter" was an option because he grunted his way up the hills where we lived! But he also looked like a bear cub, so Fuzzy Bear, or FB, is what he became.
His first public appearance was helping us sell unsheared Christmas trees we had thinned from the property we bought in southern Oregon.
We built a stand from leftover logs, added a scrap metal roof, and furnished it with straw bales.
With me holding our 18-month old daughter, and Stan with our cute black Lab in his arms, people said it looked like a nativity scene...
One day, on the way home from marketing the trees, we visited a small ranch near our property. Our friend, Gary, said, "He looks so fat because he's got worms. Hold him a minute while I fix that!" Gary took a plug of Copenhagen tobacco, about the size of his little finger, and put it down the pup's throat.
F.B. ran off, shaking his head. About half an hour later, he came back, noticeably less round...
FB loved swimming; no surprise since he had retriever in him. He also enjoyed chasing squirrels and unfortunately did end the life of one prematurely. We took him on many hikes in the outdoors and he was always admired for being such a cute black Lab.
On the other hand, FB did not like to play with people, which we felt to be rather a shame. But he was very loyal and protective, without being aggressive. We never worried about him biting anyone.
He was also a chow hound. I'll never forget the day that he upchucked a big pile of margarine in front of me. He'd gotten into a whole 3 lb tub, eaten it all, and regurgitated it before it even started to acquire that sour stomach smell! Our girls invariably left their Halloween candy on the floor after a while. Neither chocolate nor wrappers seemed to affect his digestive system...
After a couple of years of raising F.B., he developed a bad case of fleas with constant scratching. We were on a limited budget and were buying the cheapest dog kibble we could find. The problem became so bad that his rear end looked like that of a warthog. After an expensive visit to the vet, he was given cortisone for the itching. We decided to try and feed him a better brand of dog food to see if we could prevent another vet visit.
The difference was remarkable. Over a period of three months our cute black Lab regained a thick, glossy coat and stopped scratching. Fleas just weren't interested anymore.
Also, his stool had been almost like diarrhea for years. With the new kibble, the stool became round and firm (and much easier to scoop). Worms were a thing of the past too.
When he was 9 years old, he became about 10 pounds overweight due to some family members feeling sorry for him that he was on such an unexciting diet compared to the humans. The kitchen scraps and treats became more frequent.
He started yelping every time he'd get off his couch bed because his back legs hurt. We thought it was arthritis due to age. Then for some reason, we decided to slim him down again. Once he was back to a healthier weight, his "arthritis" was gone and remained so until he died at the age of 13.
For at least three months, FB had been showing increasing reluctance to walk out our front door and down the busy street to the park. We had a huge backyard, and he still loved to ride in the car, so we didn't think about the effects of diminished exercise and only slightly decreased his food ration.
One day, we went to a play at the local college and brought F.B. along. However, when we arrived home, he didn't make a move to get out. To my horror I found that he was blown up like a large balloon and his sides were as hard as a rock. The vet said it was bloat, meaning his intestines had become twisted, and gas had built up. A $1,500 surgery could solve the problem temporarily but it was likely to recur. We suspect that F.B.'s decreased exercise may have caused it.
Since Stan was out of town, I made the difficult decision to put F.B. to sleep. I was comforted in that decision by the fact that F.B. had enjoyed very good health and a great quality of life for most of his 13 years.
Although the veterinary office offered to dispose of the body, I took F.B. home so that Stan and the kids could say a proper goodbye to our cute black Lab. He was buried in the backyard in a favorite spot and will never be forgotten.