She's officially an old-lady dog now.
However, she is as vivacious and as sharp-minded (and strong-willed) as ever. Not much gets past her radar.
When we go to the park to play ball, she's content now to lay down and squelch her ball in her mouth while the other two tear around playing fetch. And when the young'uns start play wrestling in the house, she ''referees'' by barking at them.
She loves to lay on the landing of the stairs, which is a perfect spot to watch what's going on in the world outside, since she can see right out to the road through the glass of the French doors.
When she wants to be petted, she shoves her head into your lap, or under your hand. If you don't respond quickly enough, that's followed by a paw to the thigh. She has the plushest, thickest, softest coat of any Labrador I have ever known. She's like a big teddy bear.
She's a talker. Oh is she a talker. She is constantly muttering about something or other, whether she's expressing joy and excitement at being out and heading to the park or the lake, ecstasy at the prospect of a car ride, reproach at the roughhousing youngsters, or simply just mumbling to herself.
When I come in from a run, I automatically pull off a mitten or a headband so that I can give it to her the moment I come through the door; it's an essential element of her wag-and-carry, welcome back home routine.
She's neurotic to the point that I wondered once to the vet if dogs can be autistic. She has these fascinating OCD behaviours, such as suddenly doing a 90-degree turn and beelining for the side of the road when we are halfway through crossing an intersection, or turning in a counter-clockwise circle every time we come through the front door, or walking once around the recliner chair before I can put her lead on, or making circles when she poops, or pushing balls underneath the boathouse so that I can fish them out with a stick. When we play fetch, there is only one ball among three identical-looking ones that she will deign to touch.
Every one of those little quirks makes her who she is, and makes us love her even more. She has her spot on the bed, on the pillow right beside my head, and I can listen to her snore softly.
She wears her heart on her sleeve, and she has opinions and foibles, and I wouldn't want her any other way. She has been through so much with us, and she has lived up to her name in every possible way. My sunshine.