When I first heard Blackie had six months to live I was devastated, although I half expected a diagnosis of cancer. But he has survived that sentence.

This time I felt jubilant that he was given another six months. Maybe I thought he would have been given less. Maybe I think that he’ll outlive this life sentence too. I hope so. Peta was very pleased by Blackie’s obvious quality of life, although acknowledging his pain due to arthritis, and the increasing size of the cancerous growth.

As I said in an earlier post, I decided not to operate as it would mean amputating a leg from a 13-year-old lab-sized dog. The vet supports my decision. The focus is on his quality of life.

Today I feel less than jubilant. We went out, a hot day, he drank lots of water and could not walk far. Admittedly he’s never enjoyed being on the leash, but it was a festival-type environment with lots of people and dogs to keep him interested. We bumped into friends and Gracie went on a jumping castle, while Blackie and I sat in the shade. I even managed to talk him into eating Gracie’s left-over hot dog.

Peta, the vet, says that being overweight counts against him, but she knows what Lab eyes are like, and now seems an unfair time to start denying him.

Still tonight he’s sitting alert at the front door barking at strange (and not so strange) noises. I’m not sure if he’d prove to be a guard dog – he is way too friendly – but his bark makes me feel safe for Gracie and me.

Today, showed how much he has aged. I don’t want him to go.

I always find it funny that my black dog is such a carefree, happy and friendly soul, helping me fight my demons away with his love, attention and needs. I appreciate the way he welcomes me, searches for me on the beach or in the house, his kisses and hugs, the way he follows me around.

I don’t ever want another dog. They live such a short time and grief is so…

Now is the time to focus on making the end of his life as enjoyable and as comfortable as I can and pray that I will know the right time to say goodbye. I’m so lucky to have had him in this part of my life – he’s definitely my fur-baby angel.