Forever, in loving memory of my soul mate " Major "


After a swim on his 11th birthday

Legacy's Major Mandigo

(Champion pointed) 


July 1, 1991 - December 31, 2002

(Ch. The Fonz of Majyk Hill  x  Legacy's Charlie Brown)

OFA excellent, OFA elbows, eyes CERF @ 10 years


When I told you it was time, it was OK to let go,

 it was for you, my friend,

I would have held you in my arms

till time came to an end.

For "Mister Major"

The words are so hard to find, the reality so difficult to comprehend,

How could I still be here if you're gone, when you were such a part of me?

The little puppy who slept on my feet while I recovered from surgery,

The respected leader who helped me raise our ever-growing family of dogs,

My first show dog, ever eager to travel and strut his stuff,

My right-hand, my protector, my confidant who always was there,

Even through hard times when no one else was by my side,

There you were, my security blanket with kind, intelligent, ever-understanding eyes,

With such devotion, strength and determination to take care of me.

Everyone could see you thought I "walked on water",

But, in my heart, it was you, my "big brown dog", who did.

I'm sorry I never finished your championship,

nor got the hunting and tracking titles I'd planned,

You could have done it all, and deserved it all,

But life threw us a zinger and we worked on survival instead.

Never doubt, Mister, that you were a champion in all things ... and more.

I know you didn't want to leave me, you tried so hard to hang on,

I saw the sadness in your eyes, knowing full well it was for me, not you,

And I loved you too much to let you suffer or lose your dignity,

I finally knew it was time ... time to face the moment I'd so long dreaded.

When I told you it was time, it was OK to let go, it was for you, my friend,

I would have held you in my arms till time came to an end.

But I know you heard and understood what I whispered as you lay against my heart,

The same words we shared every night for years, curled up together in bed,

"Love you, 'Mister Do', my big brown dog ... for ever and ever".

Part of me went with you when you died, so you didn't have to be alone,

A sacrifice I'd do a thousand times over for you.

But it leaves a painful hole in my heart, and in my life,

That won't heal until we're together again in a better place.

So run free, Mister Major, faster than any of the others like you used to do,

Roll in the grasses, swim in the waters, lay in the sunshine,

Have popcorn parties, strut around the show ring, go to the bank for cookies.

But keep an eye out, because I will come to be with you one day;

Our souls will flow together again as we run towards each other

And our spirits will be filled with peace and joy.

Until then, rest well, my devoted, greatly missed best friend. 


With undying love, your "Mama"

January 5, 2003





Snoozing - 11 years old


One of the last pictures ... and one of Major's favorite "tricks" for visitors (Dec. 2002)



Opening his Christmas present (full of cookies) - Christmas Eve 2002

(He then proceeded to try to help Grandpa tear open Grandpa's present!)



Major retrieving in "Major's Pond" on his 11th birthday



Major @ 10 1/2 years - a little gray but always "my SPECIAL GUY"



Major at 10+ years


Major @ 10+ years


Major still going strong at 9 years


The #1 alpha male had special privileges ... every night


Major and I, photographed for the Dunn County News in May 2000




                    Major - 7 years old                         Major @ 21 months with Dyna



Major at 18 months


Major @ 6 weeks old


Major and "Mom" ... It was love at 6 weeks and forever after





Major's pictures and roses 1/03

Major's gravesite in Wisconsin






Major's grave stone

I buried Major's ashes on July 1, 2003 ... it would have been his 12th birthday


As an update, Major is now here in Virginia with me.

I knew, as a "southern boy", he'd want to come south with me!

So, I brought Major's ashes, his 300-pound grave stone and cross with me to Virginia.



Major's Story


It was 1990 and after growing up with and having Labs all my life, I started searching all over the country for my "perfect" chocolate male.  I finally found a breeder right in my own backyard ... Pat Cobb, south of Ft. Worth, Texas, who was going to do a repeat breeding of chocolates, sired by her chocolate champion.  I very much liked the moderate, athletic type, intelligence and temperament of this breeding and got on the list for pick of the litter.  Seeing the litter at 3 weeks of age, I knew it was this confident, dark little puppy.  He came home with me a bit younger than normal and became "glued" to me as I recuperated from major surgery.  At 7 weeks of age he accidentally went swimming in my pool, sunk all the way to the bottom before he realized he needed to learn to swim; up he came, paddled around the edge until he could be hauled out.  Scared?  Not a bit, he shook off and waddled over to the potty area (the original destination), tail wagging.

Major exuded a confident, predictable aura to everyone he met.  A true alpha male, he became the leader of my group of dogs at five months of age.  He was exceptionally intelligent and always responsive to me.  If the older girls didn't come back from the field when I called, he'd stand by my side looking for them;  when they finally came near, he'd run out and gently nip at them as if to say "you dummy, if you don't come back, she won't take us out running!"  He always led the group and had so much heart and enthusiasm that he always out ran and out swam the others;  I'd have to hold him back to let someone else retrieve the training dummy or ball.  He sired his first litter at 8.5 months of age (like an old pro I might add).  Over the years he sired 142 puppies,; his last litter was a stud service at just under 11 years of age which produced 12 puppies!  Even then, the vets couldn't believe the quality of his semen, better than what they considered good in a 2-3 year old dog.  I just smiled and said, "that's my guy".  Major's produced many outstanding family companions and hunting dogs; a puppy from his first litter became the #1 drug detection dog in the state of Arkansas ... at under 2 years of age.  For various reasons, I didn't keep what I should have from Major, and was very glad to get back one of his granddaughters, my Molly.  Through her I have 4 great granddaughters, one great grandson, and a new litter of gorgeous great-great grandchildren of Major's. And I kept a lovely black female from the last litter Major sired for me at almost 11 years of age.  Some of the best in my kennel goes back to Major. 

My first move into the show world was with Mister Major (as nicknamed because he was so dignified and such a leader).  We learned together, he probably doing better than I, and he loved nothing better than to see me get the show bag out, put on a dress, and load us up in the van at 3 AM.  Being chocolate was a big disadvantage in the show ring in those days, but his exceptional dark "hershey" correct coat, very dark eye, outstanding movement and show-off attitude got the judges attention and Major did well with very limited showing and a novice handler.  His last outing he took 2nd in Veterans Class at a Lab specialty; he was the oldest dog in the ring (almost 10 years old) and the only one not a finished champion so he made me proud.  

But it was Major's heart, his intelligence and his devotion that made him my once-in-a-lifetime dog.  He literally worshipped the ground I walked on and never let me out of his sight, no matter what the distraction.  He and I read each other's eyes and minds, communicated in ways unknown to most people and their dog.  I didn't give him "commands", I talked in sentences as to a human and he understood everything.  He knew when I was down and comforted me; he knew when there was danger and protected me; when I was happy, he was happy.  There was a time of great trauma in our lives, and several hard years of transition, adapting and re-building.  When I had no one else to lean on, it was Major who gave me comfort, protection and the will to go on.  It was during that time that he started to sleep in the bed with me instead of on the floor by my bed, and he's had that special privilege ever since.  As he got older, he was the perfect companion for the pregnant girls or those with puppies in the house; they always loved and trusted him so much that they never minded him going in and out of the puppy room, checking on the puppies.  Major loved to have visitors come, especially Grandma and Grandpa ... and he knew the difference in their "names"!  He'd frantically look for a bone or toy to have in his mouth, then greet the visitors with enthusiastic wags and talking sounds.  It became expected that he'd impress visitors by balancing a biscuit bone on his nose until I let him flip and catch it.

When I moved to Wisconsin, I hesitated having my pond dug the first summer due to finances.  But I remembered my promise to Major that we'd have a nice pond for him to swim in and thought about him being 9 years old.  If he didn't make it through the winter, I'd never forgive myself if I didn't give him that summer to swim.  So I had the pond dug ... it is named "Major's Pond" and he had three years to enjoy swimming with the other dogs.  But in the last couple years Major could no longer out-run and out-swim the younger dogs as he always had before.  He was in excellent health, just slowing down. So on his 11th birthday last summer I took just Major out to swim and retrieve at his own pace, get the training dummy every time with no competition ... and got some beautiful pictures that I'll treasure forever.  

On November 29, 2002, Major had his first spell;  I fell apart thinking I was losing him then but he bounced back.  Then another spell December 28 and another comeback, but not for long.  On New Year's Eve, Major went down again and this time I knew.  He was euthanized in my arms in "our" bedroom, a place where he felt safe and dearly loved.  The only thing we hadn't ruled out with testing was cancer.  It was time for my beloved "big brown dog", as I called him, to be free of his tired, old body.  I knew he had been trying so hard to hold on for that last month, probably for my sake,; it wasn't until I told him it was OK to go that he slipped under. 

I thank God for the years I had with this wonderful, loving friend and pray that he is now free of suffering, running and playing happily on the other side.  No dog will ever walk in his shoes and I love and miss him more than words can express.  But I know that when my time finally comes to cross that Bridge, a big brown dog, my Mister Major, will be at the forefront, running towards me faster than all the others.

January 5, 2003



I Remember You

I remember how excited I was when I first went to see you at three weeks of age,  

What a dark hershey-brown, confident little star you were in that whelping box,

I remember when you came home at 6 weeks, to help me recuperate from surgery,

And how you peed all over my nightgown as soon as I started "sweet talking" you,

Already "marking" me for your own, weren't you, Mister Do?

How you glued yourself to me, sleeping on my feet on the footstool if not in my lap.

Yes, I remember you.


I remember when you fell in the pool at seven weeks, sunk right to the bottom,

But how you came up, paddled around, shook off and waddled away wagging.

I remember how you took leadership of the older dogs at only five months of age,

How they loved and trusted you, even to come and go with their litters of pups,

How you gently disciplined them if they didn't promptly come when I called,

How you often interpreted for them what I wanted, because you always knew.

Yes, I remember you.


I remember when we went to your first dog show at six months of age,

How you strutted around, head up, looking around to be sure everyone was watching,

You seemed to think all the dogs and people had come just to see you.

I remember your first champion points, made it 2 points with Best of Winners,

And how you always seemed disappointed if you couldn't go back in the ring again.

I remember how beautifully you moved around the ring, head high, tail wagging,

Literally floating around the ring on a loose lead, in perfect unison with my stride.

But I remember too how you crawled on your belly, nose glued to the floor at ringside;

You never missed if a female in heat had ever passed through the show site!

Yes, I remember you.


I remember when you sired your first litter at 8 1/2 months of age,

Surprised me, didn't you, got her right there in the kitchen as I was eating a sandwich.

She freaked out but you were the calm, old pro, even back then.

I remember how you always out-ran and out-swam all the others when we'd go out to play,

And, if by chance, someone else got the bumper, you'd swim out and steal it,

Then bring it to me like a hero.

I remember when I started training you for tracking, hoped someday to let you do rescue,

The books said to train first without any turns, but how boring that became;

Within days, we had multiple turns in high cover and you never missed ... a natural, so talented.

I remember the first and only time we went hunting, how you'd never been in a boat before,

Didn't know if you'd even jump out to retrieve a bird, nor how I'd get you back in.

But when the first shots went off and "something" fell, you were out before I could send you;

Unfortunately, not knowing birds or feathers, you looked and looked for a training dummy,

Figured those birds were something not for you.

But all it took was throwing a bird on shore for you to retrieve a couple times,

Oh, yes, that's the idea!  That's the right thing to do!

Yes, I remember you.


I remember how scared I was when your OFA x-rays were done,

And you had trouble coming up out of the anesthesia;

But how elated I was when they came back rated excellent!

I remember how you loved visitors, frantically searched for a toy or bone to carry in your mouth,

And how you talked to them, making different sounds that only I understood.

I remember how you came to expect to do your "trick" for them,

Balancing a biscuit bone on your nose, barely breathing, eyes glued on me for my signal.

Yes, I remember you.


I remember how you always loved to lead the group when I let you out to play,

First out, then how you turned your head back, looking for the others to follow.

I remember how you'd get crazy, barking at the sunlight reflecting on the kitchen floor,

Trying to catch it and bite it, especially if someone's jewelry was catching the sun;

How I could never use a flashlight with you around, you'd always try to catch the light!

I remember how, when we'd go do AI's, I'd tell the vet to "be ready" when you came in,

They always were amazed at your enthusiasm for "getting down" to business,

Even as an old guy of almost eleven.

Yes, I remember you.


I remember when we had danger and upheaval in our lives,

When I had no one else, I had you by my side, ever loving, ever faithful, sharing my trauma;

You'd follow me anywhere and we moved too many times,

But it always was "home" as long as we were together.

I remember your fourth birthday when I invited you to come up on my bed,

You couldn't believe you should do that, as you always slept on the floor,

When you finally did, you thought you died and went to heaven,

Waited there for me the next morning, hoping I'd come back to bed.

Yes, I remember you.


I remember your last dog show, I put you in Veterans class just because you liked to go,

How proud you made me taking 2nd ... the only dog in the ring not a finished champion.

And I knew you loved the applause as the group of old guys took a final go-round.

I remember how excited you always were to go for a ride with me, didn't matter where,

But when it turned out to be the bank, oh, how you loved those "ladies at the bank"!

You climbed across my lap, hung out the window, waiting for the deposit tray to come out;

It always had a big cookie that you'd crunch with tail wagging,

Then you'd stare at the ladies through the window, waiting for them to return with another.

I remember how you'd always climb up and sit in the drivers seat when I went into a store,

Eyes glued on the door where I disappeared, waiting for mom to come back.

I remember how you'd look where I always kept my purse if someone else let you into the house,

How you'd search every room for me if the purse was in place,

Or watch the windows and driveway for me if my purse was gone.

Yes, I remember you.


I remember how it got hard for you to run with the group of rowdy youngsters toward the end,

So you had more quiet house time, keeping company with pregnant girls or those with puppies,

How they loved and trusted you enough to let you come and go through their puppy room,

Sniffing and checking on the newest Tealwood additions with the pride of the leader.

I remember how hard you tried to still outrun the young dogs, tried so hard to get the dummy,

But how it wore you out, how it seemed to sadden you to face up to getting old.

So with joy I remember your eleventh birthday, taking you to the pond, just you and me,

So you could swim and retrieve at your own pace, get the dummy every time, no competition,

A very special day, you looked so happy and beautiful and proud.

Yes, I remember you.


I remember how you loved to have popcorn parties, you were so good at catching,

How you loved to come into the off-limits living room and roll on the green oriental rug,

How you tore open your Christmas present full of cookies even this last year,

Then proceeded to help Grandpa open his ... sure all the boxes were just as good!

I remember I often sent you to bed before me as you got older, how you waited there till I came,

How you laid on the other pillow next to me, the "love you" goodnights we shared,

And how, every morning, you moved up and flopped down right against me for a last moment.

Yes, I remember you.


I remember all the nicknames I had for you, "Mister Major", "Mister Do", "my big brown dog",

How you read my mind and my eyes, always understanding what no one else did,

I remember the intelligent, loving, serious look you always had when I looked in your eyes,

An understanding and wisdom so far beyond a dog, and a love so pure and complete.

I remember the last month how I died a little bit myself each time you had a bad spell,

How it broke my heart to have to help you get up on my bed when you were weak.

How I've been worrying about losing you since you were five years old,

Wondering how I'd ever go on without you, how I could bear to see you old and sick.

But inevitably the day had to come, Mister Do.

I remember lying by you, on the pile of blankets on my bedroom floor, covering you with another,

With our comforting Enya music playing softly in the background,

Overcome with grief at the realization of what was at hand.

When I told you it was time, it was OK to let go, it was for you, my friend,

I would have held you till time came to an end.

Forever and ever ... Yes, I remember you.


Music: "Athair Ar Neamh" by Enya - favorite music I, for years, put on to play at bedtime