SPLASH – One Great Dog

It is rare in life that you find someone that will always want to do what you want to do, go where you want to go, give you unending love, and be there for you no matter what your mood. Plus give you wet kisses, have beautiful brown eyes, velvet jet black hair, and is always excited to see you every time you walk in the door. For me that someone was our Black Labrador named Splash. He was the only black lab out of a chocolate litter that came into the world on September 27th, 2001.

Bringing him home the first day after being weaned, one of the first things he did after peeing inside the house was to jump into the pool and begin swimming and thus we aptly named him Splash. Coming from a long line of champion field trial dogs, he was a natural born retriever and loved playing fetch with anything thrown for him. His two loves were swimming and fetch and when he could do them both at the same time he was at his happiest.

He was a well traveled dog and was always a welcome addition on our road trips. He has been with us to South Padre Island, Santé Fe, New Mexico, the San Juan Mountains of Colorado, skiing in Park City, Utah and Vail, Colorado, and Eastern road trips to Staunton, Williamsburg and Suffolk Virginia, the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Vicksburg, Mississippi. His favorite place however was Vickers’ Ranch outside of Lake City, Colorado in the San Juan Mountains. We would come over Slumgullion Pass and get the first glimpse of the valley below and he would become so excited because he knew he was in Dog Disneyland. Lakes, rivers, trees, deer, smells, kids and new people for endless play, and horse manure all there for his pleasure.

He would run around so hard the first day that the pads on his paws would become bruised and tender. But that wouldn’t slow him down. He had things to do. One late afternoon, Kim and I were sitting on the porch of our cabin watching this good size buck with a large rack eating leaves off a willow bush about 100 yards from us. Splash was off doing whatever in the horse pasture across the river. Well he comes bounding back to us never seeing the deer and very proud of his new color. He was green from rolling in probably every horse manure pile in that pasture. I am holding him by the nape of his neck at arm’s length because he smelled to high heaven. Now, he spots the deer and I lose my slimy grip and he takes off towards the buck. He gets about 20 feet from the buck just barking up a storm and the buck does not even pay any attention to him and keeps eating. He inches to within five or ten feet of the buck and the buck finally had enough of this yapping dog and lowers his rack and takes off after Splash. Not good I’m thinking. Right on Splash’s tail, the buck chases him to the river, down the river, and the last sight we see of them is Splash running as fast his he can up the mountain. I have never seen a dog move that fast with his tail between his legs AND ahead of his nose. Expecting to hear, but never hearing the yelp of a gored dog overtaken by a buck, Splash comes back still proud of his green color. It was time for him to go to the lake for his bath.

One more ranch story. If there was a ball or a doggie toy on the ranch property he would find it. He would then want you to play fetch with him which I would gladly do. But he never wants to stop. So when I stop throwing the ball, he takes the ball and looks for someone else to play with. He just loves little kids and was very gentle with them. The kids and Splash both have that boundless energy. He would toss the ball to them and they would toss it back. This would go on and on. Well it was June, and the spring runoff made the river high and fast, and I was watching Splash and two kids play fetch. All of a sudden the ball flies into the center of the river and Splash follows it in without any hesitation. Long ago I had a friend lose his dog in a fast moving river so knowing how dangerous the fast water can be I immediately jumped up and tried to cut him off downstream. The water was moving too fast and he had already been carried around the bend when I got to the river. I told Kim that we may have lost our dog. It was about 15 minutes later, and I was getting my stuff together to walk downstream when here comes Splash, wet and worn out, back to the cabin. Guess what, he had the ball in his mouth.

I could go on with many more stories. He was a truly loving dog to both humans and other animals. Always ready with a tail wag and a kiss. I will miss him by my side as he buried himself under the pillows and read the paper with me every morning.

He turned nine years old two weeks ago and was acting a little lethargic, so we took him our vet that has taken care of him all his life. He heard something funny through the stethoscope and followed with an EKG which confirmed an irregular heartbeat. He recommended that we see a veterinarian cardiologist. She did ultra-sound, plus other tests, and determined he had a pericardial effusion, which is fluid in the sac surrounding the heart, that causes pressure on the heart that keeps the chambers from properly filling with blood. She drained over 300cc’s of fluid from the sac to alleviate the pressure. But it could not be determined why the fluid was there or whether it would come back. Sunday morning, it appeared that Splash was getting back to himself. When I got back home that afternoon and walked into the house, he immediately came up to me, as he always does, and collapses and dies in my arms. He went quickly and it was like he was waiting for me to say his final goodbye.

Thank you Splash for all the wonderful memories, you will surely be missed by those lives you have touched. Click HERE to view his slideshow. RIP


  1. Jason says:

    The one’s we love are never with us long enough. Every loss is a reminder of our own mortality. I will miss getting confused which dog to yell at when they all were at the house… Zeek! Splash! Gus! Thank goodness for the purple collar to remind me who I was trying to get to listen. We will truly miss our doggy cousin.

    • Dave says:

      Yes that was funny, I didn’t know who’s dog was who’s.

  2. charlotte says:

    What at wonderful series of photos. The pictures in colorado are so beautiful. Splash had good taste for his favorite play spot. But the pic’s of him in the water with the ball – you know he is in doggie heaven on earth. Now he’s in the real doggie heaven with I am sure a ball and pond.

    • Dave says:

      If he doesn’t have one he’ll find one.

  3. Cathy Kaiser says:

    What a great tribute to a best friend. Always keep Splash in your heart, and someday try to make room for a new four legged friend. They truely are the best, most loyal of friends we could ever hope to find. Love to you and Kim.

    Cathy & Allan

    • Dave says:

      Thank you. Right now Shadow is filling that spot. He is a little lost since he doesn’t have Splash to follow around (and hence his name) but he has alot of love to give also.

  4. Scott Driever says:

    Splash had such a good soul. His spirit with that level of energy was something special. He will truly be missed.

    • Dave says:

      Thanks for always being there Doc.

  5. Ann Robson says:

    Dave: as hard as it is to lose Splash there will be many more wonderful labs out there, Honey for one! All the best, Ann

    • Dave says:

      You are right. Honey is as beautiful as they get. Right now Shadow is getting all our attention. He is the white lab mix you’ll see at the end of the slideshow.

  6. Chris Cramer says:

    Sorry about Splash. I know I am not looking forward to the day I have to tell anyone that Katie has passed. Maybe you can find another love just like Splash.

    Take care.

  7. Alicia says:

    I am so sorry to hear about Splash. I know you must be heartbroken. What a sweet pup and will be missed. All our thoughts are with you.

  8. becky and bob says:


    We loved splash. Your narrative was right on! He reminded us so much of our black labs and their amazing love for Lake City. Zak was 10.5 years the summer before he died, and we had to lift him in and out of the car his hips were so shot from all the swimming and running. But if there was water near by he would hobble over and refuse to get out.

    When we came from Denver by way of Gunnison, Winchester our second lab, a really big boy, would start singing when we made the turn on the Lake City bridge at the Blue Mesa Reservoir and keep it up for the one hour drive to Lake City. Going thru town in the back of the truck his singing would escalate, everyone would laugh and point at the happy “singing” lab. He knew he only had two more miles to Vickers Ranch and fun, fun, fun. His favorite place on earth.

    As you know Vickers Ranch has numerous tales of visits from the dead. (Steve and Jennifer Smets were visited by Gary Stallons this summer). Anyway, we scattered Zak’s ashes across the bridge on the far side of the river. The next year we were staying in the 2nd cabin on the left (2nd row), and I had been walking by the river that day where we had spread his ashes the year before. That nite in bed I awoke with a startled fright out of a deep sleep, Zak had just stuck his big wet nose in my face just like he used to when he wanted to go out in the middle of the night. It was soooo real.

    Sorry for your loss. Lots of great memories. Come see us.

    Becky and Bobby


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