The Story of Bainbridge
March 28, 1987 - October 30, 2001
My dear friend rests today in comfort and in peace. Though
she had obviously been feeling the effects of her age (nearly
15 years by our standards, over 100 by canine measure), she
was always still anxious and willing to carry that beloved
tennis ball firmly in her mouth and play solely with me
while her eleven descendants would carry on their much more
lively game of fetch with me in their field as part of our
daily ritual. Only two days earlier I sensed a marked change
in her demeanor. She had noticeably weakened. There was a
distant look to her eye and her seemingly endless desire
to fetch, albeit at her own slower speed, had all but abandoned
her. Though I kept it to myself, I was deeply concerned.
I silently hoped that she would rebound and hold on at least
for a couple more weeks until I returned from a trip. But
late at night on the eve of my departure, her condition had
drastically worsened. She could barely stand on her own without
help. As I laid her on her bed in a semi-comatose state I
was very confident that she was not experiencing any pain.
I called her eleven descendants and family members, spanning
four generations, to her side one at a time. They knew through
my tears something was very, very wrong. Together we thanked
her for all that she had meant and given to us.
Before my plane was to leave the next morning, Bainbridge
had departed us. It was as if she knew she could not make
it until my return and wanted me at her side, with her family
nearby, as we said goodbye together. I will never be convinced,
not with all of my medical training and experience, that
there was any other reason why she chose that time to go.
to Lexington from Seattle in the early 80's, to accept a
position as director of veterinary services for Nelson Bunker
Hunt who, at the time, owned the largest Thoroughbred horse
operation in the world. His equine holdings spanned several
states and numerous foreign countries. His storied racehorses
had been so prominent that he had been handed trophies by
none less than the Queen of England. It was through this
association that I was introduced to a close friend of Mr.
Hunt's named Hugh, a prominent British horseman. When Hugh
would come to Kentucky to purchase horses at the select sales,
Mr. Hunt asked that I give him any assistance that he needed.
Over the months and through several visits Hugh and I became
quite friendly. I learned that not only did he breed horses,
but Labradors as well. At the time, we had only one dog,
a dark yellow Lab named Winslow. Through random conversation,
I once asked Hugh that should he ever come by a "very
light" yellow Labrador to please let me know, as I
would be interested in purchasing one. For well over a year
he and I communicated at length about his horses in England.
My advice on certain pediatric conditions would usually be
the focus of our conversations. Then one day, at no prompting
from me, Hugh asked if I were still interested in a light
coated Labrador puppy. Of course, was my response! I was
informed that he had picked a female from one of his litters
that he wanted to give to me as a measure of thanks for my
assistance with his horses. He went on to tell me that his
dog was from the Queen's kennels and that this puppy was
indeed "royally" bred. (Should there be any doubts,
I was told that his son Edward was a participant in Princess
Diana and Prince Charles' wedding.) Arrangements were made
for a flight from London to Lexington. When the pup was eight
weeks of age I was phoned of her arrival time and went to
meet her at Lexington's Blue Grass Field. Since I had not
seen any photos of the pup prior to her arrival, I was not
prepared for what was to come.
Having graduated form the University of Minnesota College
of Veterinary Medicine, I was exposed to many, many Labrador
Retrievers as the state is well stocked with the breed due
to their hearty nature and proficient hunting abilities.
But I had never seen a Labrador quite like the one waiting
for pick-up at the airport. When I was directed to her crate,
my lips touched my ears simultaneously as my jaw dropped
to my chest. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. She looked
like a polar bear cub! Not merely light, she was white.with
a black nose..and deep dark eyes. I could not have dreamed
of a dog such as this. I didn't know such a Labrador existed
and I certainly didn't have the slightest concept of what
she would come to mean in my life.
So voila! That is how this dog we called 'Bridge came to
me. She was a gift. A gift of love. Since I have chosen to
name all of the dogs I raise and keep after places in the
greater Seattle area, she was given the name Bainbridge.
Those with a knowledge of the Northwest will understand why.
And though she is no longer with us physically, her incredible
devotion, her unwavering loyalty, the tireless desire to
retrieve and her never ending need to be close to my side
is now carried on through the eleven descendants of Bainbridge
that are still with me - Mercer, Alki, Samammish, Wenatcheee,
Snoqualmie, Bellevue, Issaquah, Belle of Rainier, Mercer-Magoo,
Cascade and Princess Grace - and through so many of her extended
I am so fortunate to have been blessed by the Lord with
the gift of love. As this child has for his mother,
a husband has for his wife and this man has for his
dog. Though I fight through the taste of salt on my lip,
I take such incredible comfort in knowing that throughout
these United States and the world beyond, the spirit of Bainbridge,
and the joy that she has brought to so many families, will
live on...bringing a giggle to the lips of a small child
in Connecticut, a smile to the face of a woman in California
and the deepest gratitude from the heart of this man in
Rest assured, my beloved friend, that the fate of your descendants
will always be safest in my hands.
Thank you, Bridge.
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