It is 2:00 in the morning and I am wide awake. Normally asleep at this time, but this wee hour in the morning marks the passing of an era in our house. Our beloved Labrador of the last 14 years has died. I sit here reflecting on 14 years with that goofy dog and I smile, then tears roll. We got him on Mother's Day from a breeder who gave him to us because he was mismarked. His littermates were coal black, but he was black with brown stripes-brindle. Yep, he looked ugly, so naturally that was the one I picked up. We named him Danny. That night, I took the fuzzy puppy and put him on the floor on my side of the bed and told him stay. He did. For 14 years he has slept in that same spot. For the first two years, Danny was a demolition dog. He chewed up things we didn't know we had until we found the scattered remains in the yard. Danny chewed the screens off the windows, water hoses, he even chewed the back door up going into the garage. Then he proceeded to destroy fifteen bags of horse feed. Danny was known by the dogcatcher on a first name basis. He would sail over the fence and take off.He was well known at the Police station and they happily let Danny in their office to show off his tricks. He would sit, shake and speak. Most times, he returned a little tired and happy to see us, wondering why we were so worried. Sometimes Butch, the dogcatcher caught him and would leave us a note on the door. Fifteen dollars later, Danny was bailed out of doggy jail and came home. In Danny's later years, he couldn't leap over the fence anymore, but he particularly enjoyed laying in the front yard and peeing on the mailbox. Poor dog couldn't even hike up his leg anymore and running from the dogcatcher was but a distant memory. Danny was always happy, gentle and loving. He especially loved kittens. Once we were watching TV and it was a show about cats. There was kittens and they were mewling like kittens do. Danny's ears perked up, he was concerned and started looking for the kittens. The kittens obviously needed his help, he looked behind the entertainment center, all around the living room, but no kittens. He started to cry because he couldn't find them. We had to change the channel and comfort him. Danny adored my husband, BJ, and they would take walks together at night after work. We had a cat named Goldie and she would tag along with them. It was quite a sight, a big man, a big dog and a small cat all out for a stroll. After all that hard work, BJ and Danny needed a nap. After BJ kicked back in his recliner, Danny would leap up in his lap and nestle his big head on BJ's chest, and soon they both were snoring. Rain, thunder and lightening terrified Danny. And hurricanes?? Oh that insured that I would have a big black dog in my lap quivering and crying, drooling all over me and needing lots of hugs. That's when I truly knew what wearing a fur coat felt like as Danny pressed himself as close to me as he could get. Danny had lots of friends over the years. We had a pot belly pig, Scooter, that as a young dog, he delighted in tormenting. I watched him out the kitchen window disturbing Scooter's sunbathing. Danny was rolling on Scooter and she didn't like it. He stood up and dropped on her again and again, wallowing all over her. Scooter's grunts escalated to squeals, but that didn't deter Danny one bit. I swear, that dog was smiling. Quick as a flash, Scooter was on her feet and had Danny pinned to the ground. Scooter had big hog tushes and had her snout buried in Danny's belly. His legs flailed the air, but he was not going anywhere, now it was Danny's turn to squeal. Danny's ear splitting howls shook the window glass. Scooter very well could have ripped Danny's belly wide open, but satisfied that Danny was properly chastised, she backed off grunting softly. Danny learned his lesson and never messed with Scooter again. BJ brought home a chick from the cow pasture one evening and Little Chicken joined our managerie of cats and dogs. In the evenings, I let her out of her cage and let in the dogs and cats to eat. I fed them all in a big pan. Little Chicken plopped herself in the middle of the pan and pecked the nose of any dog or cat who dared to take a bite. Ringed by three hungry dogs and two hungry cats, Little Chicken ruled. Danny has said his goodbyes to other dogs and cats we have had over the years. Our daughter, son-in-law and grand daughter have a black and tan mini-weiner dog named Pedro. Danny and Pedro were fast friends. It saddens me that Pedro will come to see Danny and Danny won't be here to greet him. Pedro won't be able to say goodbye to his friend. We have an Australian Shepherd named Polly who has been ours for five years. As Danny went through the very personal process of leaving us, she tried to comfort me. I stroked Danny, talking to him and Polly was gently licking me to let me know she is still here. Polly will miss her friend. Goodbye Danny. Thank you for your unconditional love. Thank you for your goofy, happy tail wagging, glad to see us, muddy paw prints, the water bowl drool you trailed in the floor and all the memories of a good dog. Sleep well Danny. Wake up to find your feeble shaky legs have regained their strength and you can run like the wind. Wake up to no more sickness, no more pain. Wake up to that place where dogs never die and there is no dogcatcher. Wake up Danny, all your friends are there to welcome you. Goodbye my friend.