In spring 2011, SHLR received a lively 6-month-old mostly black lab from a shelter in Montrose. The Karstens were a perfect match for an almost-puppy: two adults working 50% from home and one very mature 9-year-old. Our vet took one look at Brooke and told us her story. “Good Ole Boys in rural Colorado communities were always trying to backyard-breed the perfect hunting dog that will retrieve and point, so they mix Pointers and Retrievers. The problem is…most of these crosses neither retrieve nor point very well. They test puppies at 5 months and drop off the failures at shelters. Good news for you,” he said, “is that the failed hunting dogs are great family dogs.” That was Brooke.

We had 9/12 wonderful years of hiking, long Highlands Ranch walks and a happy home. Her highness had FIVE dog beds around the house. A few weeks ago, we noticed she didn’t eat breakfast and was slow on a walk. A hand on her chest revealed her heart was racing–beating twice the normal rate. Blood work ruled out poisoning and other possibilities. The ER vet worked on her for several hours, trying one cardiac drug after another and consulting a cardiac vet. After a fifth drug failed, the ER vet broke the news that they suspected a tumor growing in her heart, interfering with the heart’s normal electrical function. We talked through options and prognosis. COVID-19 precautions prevented family from being with her inside, so Brooke crossed the Rainbow Bridge in the back of the same Subaru that brought her home in 2011. Our hearts are breaking. She was otherwise healthy and in great shape…we thought we had three or four years of senior Lab left.