Lad, our Yellow Labrador retriever, died today at 4:30 in the vet's office. We were there when he died. He started acting sick yesterday. He wouldn't eat, and today couldn't even keep down water. Our regular vet doesn't keep Saturday hours, so we took Lad at 1030 to another nearby vet we've used for our cats. He wouldn't even walk, so we made a stretcher with an old sheet. He didn't even struggle or complain. He was really sick. We put him in the bed of the truck, and slowly drove the 5 miles to the office. We waited outside -- he was comfortable outside in the bed, and I parked under a shady tree. At 1230 the vet tech came out and took all Lad's info. By then his breathing was shallow and he was panting. We rigged another stretcher from a blanket. They asked if it would be ok to put a muzzel on him. He didn't mind, but it really wasn't needed. We took him inside and after a short wait the Dr. came in and checked him out. He said he had a heart arythmia, and his short breaths and overall demeanor didn't look good. We asked what he thought we should do. He said his job was to make the animals better, and it was up to us. I asked him to do some tests to help determine what was wrong. He agreed and said they'd call in a couple of hours. He called us at 4 and said Lad had near total kidney failure, which was causing all the secondary problems. He said he could euthanize Lad.. we would have to let him know. I said we'd come in. We left the house at 4:10, and arrived at the office at 4:20. When we walked in Lad was on the floor on a blanket. The Dr said he was going fast, and he didn't need to euthanize him. We walked over and knelt down next to our faithful, ever friendly, always patient Lad. He was fading fast. His breathing was labored and he didn't seem to recognize us -- the first time in over 12 years. The Dr and vet techs knelt down and pet Lad as well. Soon, his breaths came less frequently. At about 4:30, he breathed his last. Lad lived a very good life, was still walking a 3 mile hilly loop 3-4 times a week until last Spring, and still look forward to every single meal until Thursday, and always greeted every person that came to the house. He knew when to bark when a stranger came up the driveway, but would remain quiet when one of us came home late. He was easy to train, loved to be outside, probably had ten thousand mile son his paws, and was a great companion on backpacking and camping trips. One time we were backpacking and in the middle of the night I woke up -- Lad was standing, hair on the back of his neck straight up, silently staring at the tent flap. I moved it aside to see a huge black bear about 20 feet away. I shone a light and it took off. Lad never barked or even moved -- he just let me know the bear was there (we get bears over 500 lbs regularly around here). Lad would break through ice to swim, followed me on countless runs on trails, and even followed me as I rode a Mountain bike through county park. His energy was boundless and his love for people never failed. In the last year his energy slowly wound down and he became less vigorous. Yet he still loved to o for walks -- even if it took a while to get up the steeper hills. We will miss our Lad.