Dear Cilka,

You were my first dream come true.  I remember the day when we first got you, as if it was yesterday. We drove up to the breeder’s home in Chatham and walked up to the fenced yard. Suddenly a group of you came running up to the fence, wagging your little tails with big brown eyes and little floppy ears.  We decided to pick you out of the litter because we heard that Labrador retrievers are very energetic. So when we saw you, you seem to be less active than the others and slightly sluggish but still alert. Little did we know you were just fed and sleepy from a food coma. 

On the drive home, you cried all the way you poor thing.  Sad to leave your litter mates and move in with a species unlike your own.  So I took you into my lap for comfort and you slept until I smelled this odd odour in the car.  I thought you went to the washroom in my lap or passed gas, so we pulled over on the busy highway to let you do your business. But I realized it was the outdoor air that smelled of cow manure.


Your first night with us was a rough one for you. You cried all night and at 5 am had to use the washroom in which you did successfully. We jumped for joy at your little success for all the neighbours to hear.  I remember you teethed on everything and I couldn't get close enough to you without being nicked by your sharp little teeth. But that first week was amazing for a young dog lover like myself and I couldn’t believe you were mine – the perfect golden lab.  In the first 3 months, you grew so fast we savoured every day that you were a little 8 lb pudgy puppy. Your cheeks were so pinch-able.  By 4 months your legs, paws, and ears grew, you looked like a big puppy.  By 6 months, you almost reached 70% of your full size and you were SO energetic. Pulling us everywhere. Wanting to meet and smell everyone.  You had such a love for others.

I’ll never forget when you were at least 5 years old, we drove all the way from Ontario to Alberta with you.  You sat in the backseat with one of us. Sometimes you’d cry and yelp because the drive made you anxious. We went to get some gas for the car and accidentally we opened the car door and you ran out.  You darted out to a nearby field, meters away from a highway. It was a close call but my sister grabbed you just in time and pulled you back to the car where you were safe.  You’ve had many close calls like on Thanksgiving, when you decided to eat a whole turkey carcass from the compost bin. We rushed you to the emergency vet at midnight fearful of what could happen to you but like a champ, you somehow were able to deal with the discomfort and let the bones pass through. Or that terrifying time when your right thigh was pierced with a rose bush thorn immediately growing a mass tumour inhibiting you to move properly ever again.  It was then when I realized how much you meant to me and I became overprotective of your well being. But you pulled through every single mishap. And perhaps that’s why I’m having such a hard time realizing that you’re no longer with us.  Because I thought you could pull through this one but how could I expect that?

You gave our family so much. You gave me so much.  You were my couch buddy when we watched endless chick flicks together. My furry shoulder to cry on when times were really difficult and no one understood me.  I could hug you anytime I needed affection. You were such a great hugger. Walks with you were always my source of exercise because you pulled me non-stop. Sometimes when you wanted a break, you’d lie down in the shade and rub your back on the grass.  You were always one for food and when I cooked you’d climb up onto the wooden chair, sit and watch me cook. Treats would make you drop pools of drool but I knew that was the way to your heart.  You were always so good at finishing your meals, we’d never have to worry.   And at the end of every night, you got so good with me brushing your teeth. When you wanted my attention or affection, you'd put your sweet face on my lap.

You kept giving even in your last days. You were always there for us. Always listened. You loved us unconditionally and that we are ever so grateful for.  And that’s why it’s been so difficult to lose you. In your 15.5 years you've had such an impact on us.

We will miss you so much Cilka. You will always be remembered in our family. May you gallop through those lush green fields and eat as much as your heart desires.  You will always be my golden girl and my first dream come true.

Oct 7, 2002 - June 2, 2018