Saying goodbye has been the hardest part of having a pet for me. On March 26, I had to say goodbye to the first dog I adopted as an adult. His name was Chance.

He and I met in 2007 after a friend and fellow animal lover found him running loose in eastern Eau Claire County. Following his seven-day stint at the Eau Claire County Humane Association, I took the 85-pound black Lab home after no one claimed him.

Less than an hour later, I almost returned him after he ran into my new house, lifted his leg next to a wall and relieved himself. ECCHA staff estimated he was about 1, the vet thought 1 or 2, and a trainer figured he was between 3 and 4. Regardless of his age, I knew life with Chance was never going to be dull.

Over the next few years, Chance proved himself to be a connoisseur of shoes, a legendary escape artist and a master counter surfer. My adopting three senior black Labs from Bob’s House for Dogs – first Buddy, then Toby and finally Sonny – didn’t slow him down much. He still had to be the first one down the stairs, out the door or in the Jeep – even if one of his older brothers or I was in his way.

Chance chewing on something other than a shoe

Toby left us first in 2013, then Buddy in 2015 and finally Sonny in 2018. Chance began showing his age after Sonny’s passing. His muzzle grayed, and he lost his hearing – although, he rarely listened to me anyway; slept more; and lost muscle in his hind legs. Having taken care of Buddy, Sonny and Toby helped me help Chance navigate his twilight years.

In mid-March 2020, I – like a lot of other people — began working from home because of COVID-19. Looking back, it was a blessing as Chance needed help to climb the stairs in the house or get in the Jeep. At times, he got scared if he wandered out of my home office and could no longer see me. Like his older brothers before him, he became sweeter with age and wanted to snuggle and cuddle more than he used to. He still loved his rides, and I tried to take him for at least one each day. We’d often stop at the gas station for a pop for me and string cheese for him.

Chance loved going for rides in the Jeep

I lost him in March 2021. His passing still hurts, but I’ll never regret our years together. And when the time is right, I’ll adopt another dog from Bob’s House. I think Chance would like that.

Christena O’Brien, Guest Blogger, Bob’s House for Dogs Board of Directors