We made the most difficult decision this Wednesday morning regarding our sweet 11 year old chocolate lab, Chewbacca. We left for vacation on Saturday, April 20, with our younger son, his wife and our 4 and 1 year old grandsons. We had not expected to experience what we are currently going through. Our oldest son called us on Wednesday morning to let us know that Chewy wasn't doing well. Chewy had been experiencing increasing problems with his back legs weakening over the past month and a half. Our vet diagnosed age-related hip arthritis and degenerative disc disease and put him on meds. When our son brought Chewy in to vet clinic, he could barely walk and was whimpering in pain. By the time our vet saw Chewy, he had become paralyzed and was in a great deal of pain. Our vet felt Chewy had suffered a stroke, possibly as the result of a brain tumor. Our son called us to let us know the findings -- that there was nothing more that could be done and that Chewy was suffering. We had to make the difficult, but necessary, decision to allow him to rest and gain his angel wings. At 0940, as we were waiting for the dreaded call to confirm that Chewy was on his way to the Rainbow Bridge, my husband spotted a turtle surfacing as we sat on our lanai. To me, it was a beautiful sign that Chewy was at peace and no longer in pain. We didn't know that when we left on April 20th that this would be the last time we'd hug him, kiss him, tell him we loved him. We didn't know that we wouldn't be by his side when he took his final breath. No more sweet, sloppy kisses. No more greetings at the door. No more accompaniments to the shower or sitting On my feet as I ready myself for work in the morning. No more morning and evening backyard sessions as we enjoyed the fresh air and grass under our feet. We return home on May 5 and it will be so very sad to arrive with no sweet, excited Chewy greeting us at the door with his wagging tail, excited barks and sweet kisses. No Chewy to sleep and snore at the foot of our bed. My heart is broken and aches for my boy. I know that he's in a better place and is at peace. I know that with great love comes great grief. I know that we, who love our fur babies so dearly, dread the day we lose them. I know my heart will heal and my memories of my sweet Chewy will outnumber my tears. I'm grateful for this forum, as I read about so many who are going through great pain and grief and are able to share their emotional journeys, like me. Thank you for helping me see that I am not alone and that I will make it through my own great pain and grief in time.