Forrest Langford

Mark, it has taken me until March of 2008 to write about my best friend. Forrest Langford- born an unnamed Black Lab puppy on September 21, 1993, came into my life under circumstances felt by many True Dog Lovers. I was a student at Auburn University in my first Junior year and had decided that I needed to have a dog. I had a loving an loyal best friend that I had left at home with my parents when I took off to school. His name was General – a mix ( as best we can guess ) of a Lab and a Basset Hound. There was never a more loyal and loving addition to our family than General. However, being away at college, I only got to see him on the occasional weekend and trip home for holidays. To tell the story of General is not the purpose of this note- I can leave that up to my father to tell. But because I rarely saw him, I decided I had to have my own at school. And much like any other college student at a southern university, I had to have a black lab. I found a new litter in Montgomery, AL in the summer of 1993, and from that litter I picked out the runt of the group and named him Blue. I know funny to name a Black Lab, Blue- that’s an even longer story. To save time and tears, Blue passed away on or about November 10 of 1993. The best we were able to guess was from poisoning. I came home one night from a party and found him dead in my room. The pain, the guilt, the anger was too much for me. I’m not sure, but I think I punched a hole in the wall. A week later- my parents showed up at my apartment with a new Black Lab puppy. At first, I was angry with them, because I didn’t think it was right. It was too early. I was not ready. But this beautiful puppy, with a hilarious drooling problem, quickly stole my heart and my soul. I think because of the circumstances that he came into my life, that I became very cautious and protective of him… and sometimes unwilling to even let him out of my sight. I guess it was the same way 14 years later. I named my new friend Forrest. Not in honor of the movie character, but in honor of the Confederate General. For 14 years Forrest and I were truly inseparable…except for a time when I lived in an apartment that wouldn’t allow pets- so he stayed with my parents for an extended period. This was a blessing in disguise for my parents who were suffering through a painful end to General’s life. Forrest began to have seizures at the age of 5. Frightening, horrible, painful seizures that apparently came and went with no explainable cause. For years we worked through 3 different vets and finally found a cocktail of medicines that would hem back the seizures. Ironically enough, a large part of the cocktail was Phenobarbital.. the funny part being that we discovered this right about the time that the Heavens Gate whackos decided to OD on the stuff to take flight on a comet. This was great for Forrest because it just made it even more difficult to find the medication. Forrest survived the seizures and lived a full life taking as many as 6 pills a day. There was one point where he even had to be placed on thyroid medication due to complications with age and the current cocktail he was on. In June of 2005 I noticed a growth in his mouth. A trip to the vet that afternoon revealed what no pet owner wants to hear. Cancer. It was inoperable, although they did lance the growth. We were presented with every possible treatment for Forrest. In the end, we decided with his age, and giving consideration to all of the other medications he was currently taking- that we would go with the moderately conservative approach of chemotherapy. We began the pills- thus bringing his pill intake up 12 pills a day. The great thing about Forrest, and what made our decisions to treat and not to end his life, was that throughout it all- he still remained and active, healthy, well fed, great tempered part of our family. So it never entered our mind to say- oh well, he has cancer, so let’s put him down. Plus, like I said- I didn’t want to let him go. That is, until the summer of 2007. Forrest began to show signs that the cancer was winning the battle. Age, arthritis, cancer, seizures, thyroid were too much for this great friend to overcome. I know you are familiar with the book “Marley and Me”. I read that book long before the summer of 2007. It touched me, but I can’t say that I cried when I read it. Just felt a huge lump in my heart and the beginnings of the thoughts of my obligations as Forrest’s “dad” began to come clear. In August of 2007, we made the decision. I still tell friends and family that I will never know if I made the decision to soon, but I will always know that I didn’t wait too long. I find comfort in that … and my faith. Because I know that he now runs wild with all of my other “family members” in heaven. This is a jumbled mess- but I wanted to write you and tell you that I read your book… and when I got to page 165…I had to excuse myself from the room my wife and I sat in, I went into my bedroom and cried like I did the day I made the decision to end his suffering. I thank you for your words, for your story. Having a dog in your life, truly is an adventure in joy and anguish. I challenge you- if you have not ever read it- to research the poem called “The Rainbow Bridge”.

Scott from MS