I married Bill Kroseberg on June 10th, 1960. On that day, I also married Cricket, a beautiful black Lab whose AKC papers proved she was sired by King Buck, the only dog that’s ever appeared on a federal duck stamp. She was the first Lab to steal my heart. We lived on the farm early in our marriage, and every summer when Bill left for reserve duty at Camp McCoy, Cricket went slumming. While I couldn’t wait to jump on Bill when he came home, Cricket hung out in the fields awhile, waiting for the right time to sneak back, occasionally with a litter on the way. She adjusted to our move to an apartment in town, and after finding a worthy suitor, her gift to us was a magnificent male black Lab we named Nokes, as in nox, Latin for night being black…he was the gentle but diligent watchdog for our kids, fierce protector of the 2 door Ford with the seats that tilted forward (with car seat and child attached). Occasionally, he was dropped off at our door by a kind officer as a passenger in the back seat of a squad car after a swim in Hornburg’s pool across town. Cancer has ended the lives of several since Nokes, including two great yellows, but though years have passed, he’s one that’s never left me.
For the past 26 years, I’ve been blessed with two beautiful ladies. The first, Jesse, rode home with us in the palms of my hands from Sturgeon Bay. Sadly,1998 was a devastating year for my family with the loss of our invincible Bill to cancer at 63. Months later we lost Jesse to that same awful thing. Just as I thought I would never wish to have another dog to mourn, I received a note from my dear friend, Nan Brewer:
She had quickly jotted a sketch of Jessie with wings leaping from the end of our pier, with a note inside that was a harbinger of the next Lab that would bless our family:
1999 – 2015
(Mom to Gunnar’s Bam and Betsy’s Francy, who are now 10 years old)
My son,Gunnar, and I brought Josie home from the kitchen of her breeder, Grace Cooper, in Madison. She was the last of the litter – the one that she planned to keep herself to train and show, but found herself without the time to do it. She was a look alike clone of Jesse in every possible way a dog could be – in fact, it was almost uncanny that she would have the identical disposition, discipline and devotion.
This past January Josie turned 16, and not able to walk without pain, Gunnar and I made our second trip to our vet, Troy Seamandel, who cared for our dogs – and, I do mean cared. In our arms, she sighed one big last breath and left us.
So here I am in the same place – missing her waiting for the last bite, asking to go out, then coming in to sleep at my feet until it’s time to crawl under my bed. Oh, for the love of one last Lab like her…