Thursday, March 27, 2014

About Miss Laura

By: GDB graduate Karen Strudwick
It is with the deepest sadness and sense of loss that I am sharing this news.We said a final good-bye to dearest Laura on Thursday, March 13, 2014. She turned 14 last month but her ongoing struggles with arthritis in her hind legs, respiratory issues, and other challenges of a very senior dog  were getting the better of her. Despite our best efforts, it had become clear that, if we wanted her to leave us on a high note, we had to help her to take this last step.
Last Tuesday, spring arrived on Marrowstone Island where Laura was happilly relaxing at her home-away-from-home with Jeff and Newbe. Zarek and I joined them and we all enjoyed walking in the woods , relaxing on the bluff above Heart Rock Beach, and generally spoiling our darling girl one last time. Then, on Thursday morning , Jeff's plum treee burst into bloom. That afternoon, lying on her blanket and sheepskin on the sunny lawn, nibbling at a banana, with Jeff and I and the vet kneeling at her side, Laura went into a deep and peaceful sleep and her spirit gracefully floated away, unfettered by earthly ailments. I like to think that she bounded across a field of daisies toward a welcoming committee led by my mum--with a banana in hand.

Laura (Yellow Lab) stands in grass with the sun on her back.
Laura (Yellow Lab) stands in grass with the sun on her back.
Jeff's student tenants helped us to lay Laura to rest beside several other canine, feline, and fish friends in a small secluded garden surrounded by 7-foot-tall ferns and shaded by a dogwood tree. Both Newbe and Zarek attended the burial. Zarek sat leaning against my leg, as if trying to comfort me. We believe that Newbe played her own special role as well. Named after the canine-like Egyptian god who guided the recently deceased through the underworld,  our own Anubis made sure that her dear old friend did, indeed, reach that welcoming committee on the other side.
Through Guide Dogs for the Blind, Laura and I joined forces in 2001 when she was only 18 months old. Over the next 10 years, we were seldom apart. She guided me at work, attended social and cultural events with me, made sure we collected Stephen safely from after-school activities, wrapped my mother around her little paw, and charmed the world. With Laura at my side, I confidently traveled to big and little, crowded and remote places across the United States, Canada, and Australia. She literally saved my life on more than one occasion--the first time witnessed by neighbors as we tried to cross a busy intersection only a week or two after we came home from training as a new team.
Laura was a "talker" who used various vocal intonations to respond to people, and she knew exactly how to get whatever she wanted in her disarmingly determined way. She didn't care much for motorcycles or German Shepherds--not even a metal sculpture of a dingo in Sydney escaped her notice. In her youth, she loved to run free on a big lawn like a thoroughbred racehorse. Throughout her life, she enjoyed water and snow in equal measure and had her share of adventures in both elements (giving Jeff and I our share of grey hairs as a result).

Laura rests her head on a lap with her eyes closed.
Laura rests her head on a lap with her eyes closed.

I couldn't have asked for a more loyal or loving partner. I never dared to get sick for more than a day because Laura refused (and could not be persuaded otherwise, even by GDB) to go anywhere on leash with anyone but me. Jeff and I eventually solved that problem and that led Laura to three wonderful years of town and country life in retirement with two people who loved her with all their hearts.
The past few days have been very difficult for us, Including Stephen who could only share in this long-distance. Added to thaht, Jeff is now in Cleveland with his mum, 96, who is nearing her own finish line. So if I haven't responded to a call or email, please excuse me. But I do want to sincerely thank those of you who, in one way or another, learned of what was happening and reached out to us. And I want to assure you all that, though we feel a huge void in our lives, we also are at peace with Laura's passing because we believe it was her time and she was ready. She lives on in our hearts.

Wishing you the best,



  1. This is so beautifully written - goes straight to the heart. Thank you so much for reminding me of my two lovely (late) breeders and what they gave to Guide Dogs in offspring. Right here by my side (on the couch, of course) is lovely Grace who just this evening laid her young head on the lap of a friend and continues to give so much love to all those around her, even though she is not really "working."

  2. p.s. Grace is a career change dog from GDB. What a choice to make from having her from Foster Care... definitely one of the best choices I've made.