Our dear family dog BlackBerry was a Black Labrador, a scoundrel but with a heart of gold. He and his siblings started out as accidents as our neighbor’s dear dog Cocoa, a Chocolate Labrador, became fertile before they could get her fixed. Knowing what a sweet dog Cocoa was we had to have one of her puppies. He was named for the fruit after a trip to Idaho and picking BlackBerries. BlackBerry became not only our dog but the neighborhood dog.

Since his father was unknown he was a bastard. He lived up to that reputation as well as being the sweetest and most social dog you could imagine. If he was off leash his one job was to spread joy to people. Most who appreciated it but some didn’t.

As a Labrador he had a one-track mind for food. Thank God he was fixed or who knows how many children he would have sired.

We had a perpetual battle to keep food off the counter or the kitchen island. When things got eerily quiet in the house you knew Blackberry was on the prowl. We found too many bread bags and chip bags to count, outdoors where he would sneak his treasures through the dog door. One time he took two pounds of cookie dough that was thawing. He always had the guilty look, knowing what he had done was wrong but that he couldn’t help it.

At a young age, my daughter who rode horses and was a good at jumping, taught Blackberry how to jump higher. Thanks. That led to a years long battle of raising the fence higher and exploring for weak points and jumping and landing points to try to keep him in the yard. He just wanted to escape and go socialize.

He was always pulling on the chain even with a choke collar. There might be people who can train labs to not pull but we weren’t one of them. We were glad to have a nice dog that was nice to kids and adults. On winter trips to Snow Mountain Ranch he would even pull kids on the cross country trail and it was quite a ride.

Our neighbor spoiled him rotten with food, toys and attention and loved to have him over. When she becomes a grand mother she will be a favorite of the grand children.

He was never well behaved walking, always wanting to socialize or sniff both sides of the path. Until the last year when he became so docile.

His incredible run of scaring the snot out of anyone coming to the house eventually came to an end.

He was vigorous for a very long time and lasted 13 years. His decline proceeded over a year as seizures, not jumping, not smelling, not barking, not wanting to walk, incontinence, emaciation and finally pain which led us to Caring Pathways.

I know it is a very difficult and dirty job to do what they do. I don’t think Mike Rowe of the “Dirty Jobs” TV show could do it. Dr. Lowery was very compassionate, explained the procedure thoroughly and understood what I was going through.

Blackberry was loved and gave love back in spades. RIP friend.