It was with great sadness that our much loved Labrador, Purdey, was given sleep on the evening of 26 September 2009 at the age of 14½.
Despite suffering from arthritis in her front legs and intermittent cough from old-age laryngitis, Purdey was active to the end. In August she enjoyed a month's holiday in the New Forest with us and was able to enjoy lots of walks, albeit slowly with breaks for a rest (which Janet needed too), and she loved swimming in the river. On the day she left us, she enjoyed a walk in the afternoon, chased after a ball and scrounged for treats in her usual way. After the walk, we left her at home for a couple of hours while we visited our daughter but, on our return, Purdey did not greet us in her usual way. She appeared distant and uncomfortable.
After observing her for an hour we called our vet at 8.30pm and he met us at the surgery. His initial examination indicated abdominal pain and some fluid in the abdomen. He decided to anaesthetise her to relieve the pain and relax her while he took X-rays. Sadly, these revealed a widespread mass in her abdomen which had haemorrhaged and we decided that the only course was to help her to slip away whilst still under the anaesthetic.
Purdey was very special to us. Although we had owned and loved Labradors before, Purdey was the first dog from which we had bred. We had two litters from her. Janet's mum owned Bonnie from the first litter and we still have Ginty from the second litter. Ginty went on to have puppies herself, one of which, Harvey, is owned by our vet, leading to a special relationship between them. Sadly, a couple of months after we lost Purdey, Bonnie developed the same condition as her mother and was also given sleep.
Purdey was the softest dog you can imagine. She loved all small furry animals and used to wash and lick clean the new-born baby guinea-pigs. Last summer we noticed her carrying something while out on a walk and when I held out my hand she put into it a baby rabbit, totally unharmed. In the last few weeks she has tolerated our new puppy Amba jumping all over her and biting her ears. She never sought to be pack leader, being happy to leave that role to Ginty, yet Ginty always treated her with great respect and it was wonderful to see the close bond and all the little demonstrations of affection between the two of them.
Whilst we never entered serious competitions with her, Purdey won a number of rosettes for obedience at companion shows and completed the Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Gold test as well as a number of similar awards. One of her special skills was diving underwater in a river to retrieve stones from the bottom.
In typical Labrador style, Purdey's one vice was her great love of treats and she would sit in front of anyone with treats, look at them with her big brown eyes, and go through her repertoire of tricks until they could no longer resist. She even watched the other dogs and taught herself to copy their tricks.
We are priviledged to have been able to enjoy a quarter of our lives with Purdey's company and she will be greatly missed by us all and, of course, by Ginty. We had hoped to enjoy another couple of years together, but sadly it was not to be. We take comfort that, when her time came, it happened quickly and she did not have to suffer for long.