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Created by Scott McKee Oct 31, 2018 at 1:09pm. Last updated by Scott McKee Oct 31, 2018.

Thank you, Jay!

This site is sponsored by NMA Member Jay Nannen.

For as long as I’ve known Joe Wilczewski, his very best friends have always been Labrador Retrievers. Joe’s love affair with Labs started thirty or so years ago with a yellow lab named Chinook. My memory isn’t what it used to be, granted, but I recall Chinook as a giant, regal dog who towered over other canines. In my mind’s eye I still see him resembling Aslan, the fictional giant lion from the C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia series.

Joe bred Chinook with an outside Lab female, and the cycle of breeding a female or male with an outside lab begun. The resulting puppies are what I, and the incredibly lucky owners of their puppies over the years refer to as “Wilczewski Labs.” Wilczewski labs are wonderfully amazing dogs. Joe and his brilliant sister Jenny have had so many Labrador Retrievers over the years, it’s hard to keep track of them all sometimes. Off the top of my head there was Chum, Sea Run, River, Bull (Aurora’s daddy), Sockeye, Brook, and Rainbow (Aurora’s mommy), and I’m sure I’m missing a bunch of the wonderful dogs the Wilczewski family has owned who’ve passed away. I knew them all, and they were all great dogs. Each of them may have had their quirks, sure, but magnificent animals one and all.

Bull, or Mr. Bull, barked at me whenever I went near Joe, especially when we were fishing. Come lunch time Bully turned into a softy as I slipped him pieces from my sandwich. Afterward we were best friends, until the next time we went fishing together. I think maybe Bully equated barking at me as a means to getting fed. Brook wouldn’t go more than six inches away from her mommy, Jenny. Sea Run could be gruff in his later years, but as soon as you scratched his ears or tossed him a ball, he warmed right up to you. Chummy and River were two of the sweetest dogs ever.

(Momma Rainbow and her nine perfect pups.)

Rainbow was an independent female. She wanted her pets from humans, but on her own terms. I remember the very first time I met her after Jenny adopted her. ‘Bow and I had a sort of bond. One I think resulted from me “protecting” her from her crazy puppies as she snuggled up to me on the couch when Carrie and I dog-sat a million dogs at Joe’s house in Lockport for a weekend. ‘Bow ‘Bow was a wonderful, wonderful dog. We all called her Momma Rainbow after she gave birth to her nine puppies, including my and Carrie’s beloved Aurora, and I can assure you “beloved” isn’t even close to defininghow much we love our “doghter.”

(Trout, Ty, Pumpkin (front), Rainbow and Lake)

Jenny and Joe each kept two of the nine puppies from Rainbow’s litter. Jenny has Pumpkin (Momma Pumpkin, now) and Lake. Joe kept Brown Trout and the very first puppy ‘Bow gave birth to, a black Labrador Joe named Tyee. Bull, also a black Lab, passed away before Rainbow gave birth, so Joe declared the first born black male was his. He couldn’t have made a better choice if he tried.

Tyee was a huge puppy. Thankfully for his caregivers he didn’t have a mean bone in his body; truly one of the friendliest, calmest and sweetest dogs I’ve ever encountered. Aurora is now the largest female from her litter after starting life as the runt. Ty dwarfed her. He was big everywhere. Big head, big paws and sometimes he had a big belly, especially after he toppled his bag of food from the counter. But know this; he had an even bigger heart. Ty was always a good boy. He was always friendly. He cared about you as much as you cared about him. Ty was a laid back sort of fellow. He was the dog who loved to chill. He loved to wallow in the water in Joe’s creek behind his home. He did the same in the beaver pond behind Joe’s cabin. When all of the other Wilczewski’ labs were tearing all over the place, you could always count on Ty to be the one to lay at your feet, simply content to be near you, waiting patiently for an ear or butt scratch. What Ty loved more than anything, even food, was Jojo. Ty and Joe were inseparable since they first met.

Tragically Ty developed inoperable cancer months ago. Ty had many good days since, but he also had some really bad ones. After his worst day, Joe had to make the decision to let Ty slip away, freeing him from his pain and suffering. Never having had children, the most gut wrenching pain for me is watching an animal suffer. Joe’s decision was one of the hardest of his life, and I commend him for it. As any pet owner who truly loves their pet knows, this is the hardest decision they may ever have to make. While Joe is, and to extent will always be suffering, Ty isn’t anymore. And the latter part of that last sentence, as painful as it is, is a good, good thing.

I want to share a short story about Ty with you before I close this post. If you’ve ever had a litter of puppies to care for you probably know what it is like to be truly exhausted. Jenny hadn’t slept for more than a few hours a night during the initial four or five weeks of Rainbow’s nine puppies’ lives. She looked run down, almost beaten. Carrie and I decided we’d take the nine pups for a night to give her a much needed and much deserved break. We’ve never regretted the decision, but wow… just wow.

Have you ever watched nine puppies overnight? Disarray, confusion, mayhem, chaos, commotion, frenzy and even upheaval creeping towards open rebellion on the part of the puppies, leads directly to your own madness. Sure, puppies are pure concentrated joy, and one of, if not the greatest things on the planet, but they will wear you down to nubs.

My brother Bruce was at our house when we brought the nine perfect puppies home. After briefly getting acquainted with their new environment, simply put, all hell broke loose. One pooped… and then another… and then another… and another… squat… poop… squat… pee... poop… squat… bam… boom… bang… bash!!! The only way I can describe the scene is the finale of an Independence Day fireworks show. Bombs and blasts in the form of doggie’ urine and feces where exploding everywhere!

Carrie and I kept trying to keep track of which puppies hadn’t exploded yet, which is difficult thing to do since black, chocolate and yellow labs all sort of look the same, and definitely so when they are babies, so we resorted to running them all outside, one under each arm, until we were certain the barrage was over. When all was said and done our kitchen looked like a septic tank had exploded.

Bruce, who thought the whole situation was about the funniest thing he’s ever seen, sat his ass on my couch the entire time. All of the puppies relieved themselves except for Ty, who witnessed the whole excrement bombardment lying by Bruce’s feet.

Carrie or I gathered up Ty last, took him outside, where he relieved himself like a good boy. Ty is a good boy in perpetuity.

As Carrie and I were going through the better part of two rolls of industrial sized paper towels and about six gallons of sanitizer cleaning up the copious mess, Ty returned to his position by Bruce’s feet. His siblings scurried all over the place tracking poop and whiz everywhere until we finished, which seemed to take forever since each of the wonderful little buggers exponentially increased the size of their mess via their frolicking. Imagine cleaning the floor and the paws, bellies, and in some cases faces of eight puppies... like I wrote earlier, madness.

Bruce, always the helper, remained stationary and said, “why don’t you take this one,” while pointing to Ty, the only puppy not to participate in the great Labrador sewage explosion of 2015, “he’s a good boy.”

We answered in unison, “that’s Ty. He’s Joe’s dog.”

Ty was Joe’s dog, indeed. He was Joe’s dog from the second he was born, and he performed that job brilliantly every single day of his entire life. He was loved every single day of his life, and he loved Joe every single day of his life. Ty was the gentle giant, gentleman Labrador. I am honored to have called him my friend.

“Good boy” or “good girl” is a high honor in the canine world. Ty lives now in the memories of those that knew and loved him. There he is, and will always remain, a good boy… such a good, good boy, Ty.

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Great writing, Scott, fit for a great dog.

Great story brother jojocrying

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