Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Happy Birthday, Chester

Chester, you turned 5 yesterday!
Your breeders, Matthew and Danielle Venables at AlpyneAir, told us you were born during a snow storm, and you've been meeting life's challenges with bounce and optimism ever since.
You were the cutest puppy. We always thought you'd grow into those big paws but it didn't happen and now you use those big furry paws to comfort and console, and to ask for what you need in a most eloquent way.
Your kennel name is AlpyneAir Secret Agent but Matthew and Danielle named you Eli. Your Papa had other ideas. So we searched dog and baby name websites before settling on Chester, meaning "a protector", 
You came to church with us on the first Sunday after we brought you home, and looking at this photo I think you knew, even then, that your job would one day be to protect and take care of me.
Your Papa had always dreamed of owning a black Labrador, and was so proud of you!
I could tell you loved your Papa too, because you were never further than a couple of steps behind him.
When your first Christmas came you were so patient, allowing us to dress you in reindeer antlers and photograph you for our Christmas letter.
However the first tragedy of your life was to strike you soon after, on Christmas Eve, when you went on a 'secret agent mission' out through a gate left ajar and onto the road where you were hit by a car.
Fortunately it was a very slow-moving Mercedes driven by a little old lady, and while you were clearly shaken and limping, an emergency vet examination and x-Ray showed you had no obvious injuries.
The week after Christmas, though, you began to limp badly, and on a follow up vet visit we received the devastating news that you had irreparable damage to one hip.
Our only choice was between amputating your leg or having a total hip replacement, and your Papa couldn't bear to have his baby lose his leg.
Dr David (Lidbetter) agreed to do your hip replacement, even though you were just 7 months old, and you were just the best patient over those many weeks of recovery spent confined to a crate in the laundry. Do you remember all those hours where I would sit beside you on the floor, with the door of the crate open, and you'd place a large paw gently on my leg to be stroked?
You've always been a handsome boy!
Once better, you often made passers-by smile as you hung over the sandstone wall.
And you and Papa loved going to the park together.
Then along came Mr J and you had another playmate.
Papa always put you to bed at night with a hug and a bikkie, and he was always first downstairs in the morning to let you out. I know the two of you loved that early morning interlude before anyone else was out of bed, when Papa would drink his coffee and you would sit at his feet leaning in for pats and cuddles, just the two of you.
Then one morning Papa was late. I came to let you out instead, and for a time you were confused and sad. There were lots of people coming into your house for weeks, but no Papa. And there was lots of crying, and people hugging you, because that's what people like to do when they're very sad.
It didn't take you long to understand that you wouldn't see Papa any more, and you seemed to grow in stature as Chester, my Protector. 
You give me a reason to get out of bed every morning, my precious boy, and you've been key to helping me adjust to a new life without our darling Papa.
Splashing in the fountain in the park, you teach me to take joy in the little things.
Even little children stop and hug you. Everyone wants a little Chester love!
You're my number one pin-up boy, confirmed recently when my photo portrait of you was accepted into the Photostart Exhibition at the Australian Centre for Photography.
And now you''ve turned 5, 35 in human years, the prime of your life.
Happy birthday, my darling Chester. God has blessed us both and I couldn't ask for a more beautiful, sensitive and loving companion and protector.


  1. beautiful portrait of your Chester. Wonderful story of love and companionship.

  2. Happy Birthday, beautiful Chester!

  3. a loving tribute to a special friend. I am glad you have him in your life for companionship and friendship. Happy birthday Chester

  4. I've so enjoyed this beautiful post about Chester. A super big Happy Birthday to Chester, the wonder dog.

  5. Happy birthday wishes, Chester.....and a big hug from me that I'm sure your Mum will deliver, as I am unable to from this distance!

  6. A super tear jerker ... that is the most wonderful blog post, about the most loving, patient, caring, handsome four legged furry kid ever, Chester, the Protector. We are so privileged to be his friend, and amongst all the wonderful attributes this gentleman has, he is also a great big doofus! He never ceases to make me laugh. Happy 5th birthday our handsome boy. Love you to bits,

  7. This is so moving it is hard to believe 5 years have gone by,

  8. Beautiful pictures and a beautiful tribute. blessings, marlene

  9. What a beautiful story. Labs are so devoted, inherently. Perhaps the good Lord sent you Chester to be with you in your sorrow. I have not cried much of late but this post brought tears - sad ones for the loss you have endured, but happy ones on seeing such a devoted friend. Thank you for sharing. (( ))

  10. Happy birthday Chester! What a beautiful post! I patted my dogs through my tears! Thank you for sharing.

  11. Oh Di you made me cry with your beautiful story of Chester's' birthday. He is a beautiful dog with a beautiful owner! x

  12. you so touch my heart as Chester does....there is no doubt in my mind our precious pets help us through our darkest days and bring sunshine to our souls when needed most...

  13. I am so late to the party, but life and no internet has made things a bit difficult. What a beautiful boy you have...reminds me of my beloved Rudy who would follow me around when I did my farm chores. At 14, he left us this past March and we all miss him. I am touched by your beautiful protector and may you have another decade-plus of joy and love together!

  14. What a beautiful post; it brought tears to my eyes, especially when I read about "papa being late".


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