Hero's Story

Out of one tragedy came inspiration....

Sher-Mi's Your My Hero became the model for the Labrador Life Line logo you see today. Some of those who knew and loved Hero became the first board members for LLL. Here is Hero's story.

The Tragedy

It is with profound sadness that Polo, Shooter, Ally and I mark this day and the passing of our beloved friend, Sher-Mi's You're My Hero, CGC, CD. We are heartbroken at the loss. He was my heart dog and I am burdened not only by the loss but by the thought that it could have been so easily prevented.

Hero and Shooter were in the garden with me this morning as usual and we were just about to go inside. I stopped to pick a few more weeds and they had run off, and Hero was hit. It was such a shock. There is about 600 feet of timber woods between me and the road. I cannot imagine how it happened so fast. I have never known Hero to go that far away into the street. My vet stabilized him and gave him steroids and consulted with an orthopedic neurosurgeon in Baton Rouge, LA and she thought she might help. I cancelled my office hours and we drove the 300miles to LSU in about 4 hours, but once she saw the x-rays, the prognosis was grim.

I talked to Hero and wished I had a chocolate bar for him, but he was kind of sleepy, anyway. I asked him to say hi toeveryone at the bridge and to pal up with John John who will need a "gentleman's hunting companion."  I held him and let my fingers disappear under the thick coat at his neck which always made him look so regal, but never stopped shedding! He passed on with a great sigh and a snore so characteristic of those Sher-Mi labs that I had to laugh out loud. I brought him home and tomorrow I will bury him under a willow next to the pond which he loved so much.

We love you Hero

Cathy, Polo, Shooter and Ally

The Burial

I took Hero down to the pond today, but a quarter mile seemed so far away, so we decided on another place--beneath a pretty pine tree just at the edge of the lawn, just at the beginning of the road down to the pond. I used to be working in my flower beds and see a yellow lab butt and a black lab butt heading down the lane. They would reappear in about 10 minutes, covered in mud, tongues lolling, with big smiles. I held him close for a few minutes and hugged that thick neck and those soft ears I loved so much. I buried him there, with his blanket and his favorite retrieving dummy. I had been to the garden center over the weekend and bought 5 beautiful Texas star hibiscus...they have big red flowers. So I planted them there, with Hero, one for each of us, Hero, Shooter, Ally, Polo and me. And of course I used the hose to water them, and remembered a certain mischievous pup last summer.

As I stood there, I almost wished I hadn't loved him so, but of course I wouldn't trade one second with him for anything. 

Look out now everyone...This great spirit has been released from the bondage of his earthly form, so if your hose suddenly springs a leak; if your bowl of microwave popcorn seems to empty particularly fast; if you find some retrieving bells missing, or all the landscaping chips stolen from your potted plants...consider yourself to have been graced with a visit from my very true friend!

Thank you all for your calls and notes.  You cannot know how soothing they have been. 

Hero, 10/4/97-7/19/99

We miss you Hero.

Cathy, Polo, Ally and Shooter 


A Tribute From A Friend

A Dog They Never Met – A Graybeard and Yellow Dog Story

Graybeard stared in disbelief at the computer screen.  He turned his head away and glanced down at the yellow Labrador Retriever curled up in her bed beside his desk.  He grimaced and looked again at the computer screen.  It was bad news.

The old man clipped the dog’s harness into the seat belt and backed their truck out of the garage.  On most days Yellow Dog would be excited about a ride in the truck.  But today something was wrong.  Graybeard was strangely silent and he kept dabbing at his eyes with the cuff of his shirt.  Something bad was bothering Graybeard.  Yellow dog stretched out on the seat and rested her head in his lap.

When he bent down to attach the leash to Yellow Dog’s collar she gave him several quick kisses.  Her kisses always made him smile.  Not today!  He patted her gently on the head.  They walked silently through the heavy sand towards the ocean.  Dune grass rustled in the wind.  The rush and roar of the surf grew louder as the pair emerged from the dunes and onto the wide expanse of beach.  Graybeard stopped and looked up and down.  Yellow Dog sat at his side.  They were alone.  The coast was clear.  He released her.

A furious exhibition of butt tucking complete with flying sand failed to cheer Graybeard.  Yellow Dog trotted to the place where he sat in the sand.  His back rested on a gray driftwood log.  His eyes scowled at the ocean.  Yellow Dog approached warily.  Had she done something wrong? What was it?  What made him so sad and angry looking?  She sat at his side and rested her chin on his shoulder.  “What’s wrong Graybeard?” her gentle brown eyes asked.  Graybeard looked at his dog and stroked her head. Whatever it was that bothered him wasn’t her fault.  Her tail wagged happily and brushed sand from side to side..

The old man with the graybeard gathered the yellow dog in his arms and buried his face in the soft fur on the back of her neck.  He rocked back and forth and hugged her tightly.  “Yellow Dog, I have some bad news,” he sighed.  He swallowed hard and drew in a slow deep breath.  “Today a friend of ours went to the Rainbow Bridge.  We never met him, but we have pictures of him in your photo album.  We never met his human either.  But we know them.  We met them on the LABSR4U e-mail list. We’ve known them since the two of you were puppies.  We watched him grow up in the pictures she sent us.  We told them about you and they told us about him.  We got excited when he learned to swim and envious when he got his CGC.  We bragged to them when you retrieved your first bird and we even bragged when you failed your first hunt test.  Stories about him and his pictures always made us smile. But today something very bad happened to him.  He ran into the street and was hit by a car.  He was paralyzed and had to be put to down.”  She didn’t understand the words, but she knew their meaning.  Her human was sad and anxious.  She would be very still while he hugged her.

From high above, a soaring gull looked down and saw an old man and his dog mourning the passing of Sher-Mi You Are My Hero, a dog they loved, a dog they never met, a dog named Hero.

John and Chamois, July 19, 1999
Copyright John Arrington 1999.  Do not reproduce in any form without permission from the author.

Graybeard and Yellow Dog are fictional characters loosely based on the events surrounding the life of John Arrington and his crack research assistant; a yellow Labrador Retriever named Chamois.

Another Tribute

... and on the Other Coast ... (for Cathy)

....  and on the other coast, nearby the cold Atlantic, the Tall Man sat down to his computer mail. He was still giddy from a week in the Caribbean and in high spirits, eager to catch up with friends and read the messages waiting for him. The big yellow dog settled near his feet as the man began his task and then startled, as the man shouted out, "Oh, No!" at the words upon his screen.

The big dog stood and put his head against the man's knee and looked worried when the man touched him softly on his head.

The Tall Man read message after message about the injured dog and muttered a clumsy prayer that he hoped would be in time, but of course, was not.

The dog sat quite still as the man remembered a picture of a young and pretty girl and a SUV that was stuck somewhere. As he remembered a photo of a very muddy dog that made so many people smile. As he remembered how much everyone had shared the love this girl had given and gotten from her companions, her friends.

Together, the tall man and the big dog, who looked so much like the fallen Hero, sat and read the messages of hope and then the messages of sorrow and grief and pain. Together they read the beautiful tribute from an Old Man and an old friend and his yellow girl. They viewed the special pictures others had done and the special page of tribute that was done just that day.

Together, the Tall man and the Big Dog sat for a long, long while, in silence.

"Be a good dog, Caleb," the man finally said. "Be a Hero."

Walt and Caleb 7/20/99


Mary Lynn's Poem

there are everyday heros-
not wearing capes or tights
blasting thru walls or settling fights.
There are everyday Heros.
The golden-angel-babes who bedevil our lives
and make them meaningful-
who eat the hose, the house
who make our hearts swell......
the everyday Hero
The one who steals the toast and
licks the wounds of the dumpster dog,
the one who pals up with the orphan
the one who teaches a lab to be lab-u-lar
and snuggle and slurp and hog the bed,
there are everyday heros.
Like angels amongst us-we don't always see
the Hero's , the wonders, the dreams
but always they're with us-
a part of our scene..a hero, an icon, a beacon-
HERO you blest us with all that you are,
your slobbery grin and your smile.
Your time here was short,
but the lessons you taught were long/strong and tall.
HERO we're blest with your time here with us,
we hold you close in our hearts.
We ache in your absence from our day to day,
but LORD the Bridge sure shines bright......
Join with the loved ones gone on before and
welcome the angels to be
Hero, you're one in a million
thank you my dear lovin one

Mary Lynn D'Aubin