Winnie died today.
I’m telling you because I don’t know how else to tell all my kids that the world’s most energetic black lab wound down at last. I’m not brave enough to bear their Winnie sadness — I’m having a little difficulty with my own right now.
Winnie lived in Portland at the home of dear friends there. For many years, we saw Winnie nearly every month as we made visits west. When we rang the bell at the house on Royal Court, Winnie would jump into a frenzied welcome, racing over hardwood floors, skidding on the corners, to circle us with lab love.
Winnie was the best lab cuddler in the history of labs. Her fur was like that Velux blanket stuff, infinitely soft and deep. And, despite her incredible energy, she could lay still for prolonged periods of reading, keeping one’s feet toasty on the couch.
At the beach, Winnie was a wonder. My goodness, that dog could lope and swim all the day long with a smile on her face. She was legendary among crabbers at Seaside in her ability to bring up a crab pot unassisted.
At her peak of 13 years and seven months, she never lost her deep loathing of the mailman. I was in the Portland house one day when the neighborhood postal delivery guy told Winnie’s mother she better move her mailbox — Winnie’s determination to take him out made it seem feasible to him the dog might actually come through the picture window as he stuffed letters into the box.
For the record, I don’t think Winnie would have, but I do think Winnie could have.
Winnie tried every morsel of food that hit her kitchen floor. Before we ever had our own dog, Winnie’s delight in edibles fascinated my children. They had to be controlled, lest they feed her everything her heart desired.
If Dog Olympics existed, Winnie would have a wall of gold medals. She walked every mile of training for five Portland marathons, not to mention all the other hikes she completed with her mother and her boy Henry.
Oh, yes, Henry. Never did a dog have a more devoted boy. I can hardly imagine a Henry without a Winnie. I don’t want to try.
The best trick of all, I do think, was Winnie’s after-dinner show of carrying her food bowl around in her mouth after she ate. With pride, the lab paraded around with her heavy bowl clenched between her teeth, dropping it with a CLAAAANNNNNGggg that made us jump every time.
Winnie was a youngster to the end (she hiked seven miles on Sunday), her age only announcing itself Monday when she lost all her balance. Maybe from a stroke, her mom speculated today.
I will dry my tears and keep writing, only because I can’t exactly tell my boss I have to leave because a friend’s dog died hundreds of miles away. If he knew Winnie, however, he would understand.