A dog named Mouse, yup, that’s right – Mouse! She was the sweetest, most loving chocolate lab one could ever meet and we were so lucky to have her for 12 1/2 years. She came to use from NEADS – as a service dog for our son with Autism. She was very good at her job and she loved her boy – and he loved her. We were not supposed to pay too much attention to her so that she would only bond with him – we were never really good at that. Regardless she knew who she belonged to and she seemed to love her purpose. She quickly became a part of our clan and as time went on what became clear is that we ALL needed her and she – in a way- became the heart of our family.

After so many wonderful years, she became ill and at the age of 13 1/2 we had to say goodbye. It was one of the saddest days and particularly hard since the decision had to be made so quickly. Our daughter was living out on her own and 2 of our 3 sons were away at college so sadly they were unable to say goodbye. In some ways we were thankful for that, I cannot imagine them enduring those final moments –  on the other hand – I wanted the kids to be able to hug her and get their last “doggie kisses” from her – and if possible prepare to let her go. Due to the circumstances – this was not possible and calling each of them to let them know of the decision we had to make – for all of us- was so incredibly hard.

Then I began to worry (as Mom’s do) about how to give them closure and  how to give them something to help keep her close to them. With this in mind, with all home for Thanksgiving break, we had a little memorial brunch and time to remember all the wonderful times we had with her. We shared stories, we cried, we remembered, we cried some more. I had framed a picture of her with a copy of  her paw print for them. But I wanted to do something they could carry with them always so I decided to take her leash – which had “slightly pudgy/full figured”  chocolate labs (like her 🙂 marching across it to a local shoe repair guy to make 6 keychains, one for each of us. He did such a great job, both at making my vision come to light AND handling the sobbing dog mom as she described what she was looking for and why (I was a mess!). The kids loved them and they can all bring her memory with them wherever life takes them.

I shared this idea on my Facebook page and received an overwhelming amount of comments from people who loved this idea, wished they had thought of it for their own loved ones – so I wanted to share it with all of you!

Thank you for visiting this blog post and allowing me to share our story with you. If you’ve lost a furry loved one, I know how incredibly hard it is. I love that we all have something to remember her by. <3


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