Her name was French for “you paid too much for that coffee”, but the name came with her when we got her from an organization that raises guide dogs for the blind, and there was no changing it.
She was a beautiful yellow lab, though a bit heavyset in her later years as she became less active. She came to us after a brief stint with a blind person in California. She lost the guide dog gig because she never really shook the instinct to chase birds and squirrels, and that’s a really bad trait for a guide dog to have. But she was very loving and well-behaved outside of the birding tendencies.
For a number of years, she worked with my mom as a therapy dog at the local hospital, where patients and staff alike adored her. She would work with patients in physical therapy and would also visit children in the oncology unit on a regular basis, and always left smiles in her wake. She seemed to know which patients could play and which were more fragile and just wanted a little affection. Fuzz therapy, I called it.
One of her favorite things to do was go for rides in the car, and when the weather allowed it, she would often accompany my mother on her errands around town. Sometimes when my dad was restless, he and Latte would just go for drives up in the mountains or out in the country. She would also go on frequent walks through Garden of the Gods with me when she was younger.
Even in her later years, she remained good natured and affectionate. When my brother’s toddler would climb all over her, she would just kind of look at us with a slight doggy smile on her face, wagging her tail once or twice to let us know she was willing to suffer the indignity of being a climbing toy for a drooling 14-month-old.
When the end came, it was relatively quick, and she did not seem to suffer much. In her final days with us she was showered with love and affection, and when she stopped eating and was having trouble walking, we took her to the vet, who ended her suffering when it became clear that her organs were failing and this was not a temporary problem she could recover from.
She was a good dog, and she will be missed by all who knew her. She’s left a hole in our lives, but those lives were richer for having her in it for the time we had with her.
Rest in peace, Latte. If there’s a heaven for doggies, I know you’re there now, scaring all the birds in sight.