This letter from Mom to Teddi was written on Tuesday, May 4, 2010Teddi

Dear Teddi,

I miss you terribly! Every time I look at your puppy pictures, I remember the wonderful times we had. When I look at the later pictures, I remember how awful it was for you in the end. So, I want to remember this and not those. I want to think of you with a smile, not a sob. Some day, that will happen. Some day, I will be able to think past missing you... maybe. Some day I will only smile when I think of our years together...maybe. Until then, I just let the pain flow and the tears fall. My throat tightens and I can't see. One day, this won't happen and I'll still remember the good days. One day.

Missing You,

Mom

This letter from Mom to Teddi was written on Tuesday, May 4, 2010Teddi

Dear Teddi,

I can't believe it has been nearly two years that you've been gone. It feels like forever that I've missed you, yet it feels like just yesterday that you were with me. I still tear up when I think of you every day. I miss you more than I ever thought I would. Does that sound bad? People tell me that I should get another dog and you know I've always had a dog in my life, but I just can't do it. I feel so disloyal. 15 years is a long time to develop a relationship. You knew me for who I am and we accepted each other with all the quirks and difficulties.

I always felt that I didn't fight enough for you - with the house situation. I hated that. I mean, I know I fought to get you - and nearly lost a lot in the process - but I allowed him to decide things that I didn't agree with at all. I wish I had been stronger and been able to fight. You dealt with it like a champ - never making me feel guilty (even though I did) and never making me start an argument. But I wish I had. I wish I had fought tooth and nail to change your situation. I'll probably never forgive myself for that. I know you were happy and lived like a true and natural dog, but I wish things had been different. I wish I could've spoiled you with pillows and beds and toys all over the house. I know you had a huge dog house and your own fluffy bed, but I know you were lonely at night. I'm so glad I fought for you in the end. I'm glad we spent so much time together and I certainly didn't care if he felt neglected! He never would understand the relationship people have with pets. I think he has forgotten being a kid because you know he had pets all over the place. But he never seems to feel anything anymore.

I think, because I'll never forgive myself for not fighting harder for your situation, I could never bring another pup into our lives. I couldn't do it again. I couldn't watch someone else make those decisions. I'd probably end up divorced. And worse, I'd feel disloyal to you. I mean, if I can fight now, why couldn't I fight for you back then? I'm sorry I couldn't. Because I love you now as much as I did then and it still hurts so much that you're gone. I'll never forget you, Teddi and I don't know if this hole in my heart will ever heal. I miss playing with you, walking on the hill with you, sitting out in the sun with you. I miss watching you patrol the yard as you listen to the critters. I miss it all. I'm so stupid that I virtually foster abandoned and orphaned dogs who look like you. If I can't have you, at least I can try to help other babies who need someone, like you did when we met. I'm glad I fought as hard as I did to get you into our lives. The boys were so blessed to have you while they were growing up! All of their memories include your smiling face and flowing tail.

I love you, Teddi. That rainbow bridge poem is so beautiful and I sure hope to see you again one day. I know most people don't think that dogs have souls, but I think God has dogs in heaven. I really do. I don't care who thinks its stupid. I hope and pray that I'll see you again soon.

Love,

Mom

This letter from B to Matty Starr was written on Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Dear Matty Starr,

I can't count the number of times I stared at you...at acapella shows, rehearsals, in the hospital when you had wires and tubes and pipes coming from everywhere on your body...and wished I was better friends with you. I always had the opportunity. It was always staring right back at me, at my face, wondering why I didn't reach out to you or the rest of our friends more often. We're part of a family where that kind of stuff doesn't really matter, but I can't believe you died before I could try and be a bigger part of your life. I will forever wonder if you noticed me and how much I loved you, despite not knowing you as well as others. We had a great bond and lots of experiences that I will never forget, but you were always giving more of yourself and I should have scooped it up with both hands, both arms, as much as I could take before it was too much. I cry and cry and think to myself "Is this okay? Can I empty myself for someone I'm not sure knew how fond I was of him?" I don't know how I can feel that my tears aren't worthy, it's an awkward feeling. But I love you and miss you so much and if you could see Hannah today, you'd be proud.

Love,

B

This letter from Papa to Django was written on Monday, May 3, 2010Django

Dear Django,

Here's a letter I wrote about you when you left us last year...

"Sometimes I Want to Howl

I remember the night we brought Django home to live with us. It was in late February of 1998 . He was seven or eight weeks old, confused and scared. We had the advantage of not being confused but I was scared about the responsibility we had decided to take on. It was going to be up to us to care for this little life and to teach him the things dogs need to know.

We had him in the backseat of our little Volkswagon Fox, in a borrowed cat carrier stuffed with soft towels and a dog toy the breeder had given us to help reassure our little pup. The toy had been in the pen with the rest of Django's family and so it was covered with scents familiar to him. Gina was driving us home through the dark and I had a small flashlight so I could check in on the puppy. My first vivid memory of Django is of flashing that light into the carrier and seeing two frightened baby blue eyes peering back at me. I was hooked.

Over the course of the next 11 years I would often look into those eyes which had turned a hazel green by the time he was one. I took something from the trust that I saw in those eyes. Django knew he was a part of our pack and that he was safe with us. There was no place else he wanted to be but with us. That was a comfort most of the time but heartbreaking too when we had to leave him behind so we could travel.

As he grew older and less able to move around it seemed his despair at being left behind grew more and more intense. Now, we're the ones left behind and as I try to come to terms with the reality that I will never look into those eyes again I sometimes feel like howling at the top of my lungs until he comes home. That's what Django would have done for us."

I still miss you buddy.

Love,

Papa

This letter from Your Mom to Sarah (Angel-bear) was written on Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Dear Sarah (Angel-bear),

(Angel-bear),

I love you, always.

Love,

Love,

Your Mom

This letter from Your Mom to Sarah (Angel-bear) was written on Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Dear Sarah (Angel-bear),

Oh, my Angel. To say I love you isn't saying enough. You were my miracle. I didn't deserve you. I never have. Watching you fade with each day takes a little of me too. Knowing you're staying because I can't let go shows me how your love is boundless. You were never the one who left, I was the one who left - on vacations, for school. You were ALWAYS there, waiting, hoping. And now watching you struggle to stay with me . . .

I will love you always. I knew you were my dog from the day you were born. Just your beating the odds to live proved that. And when your mother rejected you, I loved you and bottle-fed you. Now you're 13 1/2 years older and still see you as I always have. There are no more eye droppers of milk but IV bags of fluid.

I'm sorry for every time I wasn't there for you. I'm sorry for every time I left you, for the day, a week, a month, more. We will never have those days again. I'm sorry I took them from us. They were important and see that now when there are so few left.

I'm scared of the world without you in it. I'm scared of the pain of saying good-bye. I'm scared of the emptiness that you fill. I'm scared because you were the one who licked my tears and warmed my lap. I will need you when you go and you won't be there.

I love you and thank you for sharing my life. You have no idea what you meant to it, how you added, completed it. I love you, love you, love you, love you. I will see you again when you jump into my arms once more at Heaven's gate. Until then know that I will miss holding you, petting you, playing tug with you, feeding you, brushing you, seeing you. I will miss all those thousands of details that constituted our life together. And somehow knowing you'll be with me in spirit just isn't the same, isn't enough.

I will treasure our last few days together and make sure I'm always there by your side, a pale imitation of what you have done for me for over a decade. I promise to spare all pain that I can. To give all the company and care you need. I promise that I won't hold onto you when the pain is greater than your heart can stand.

I love you. I'm sorry. Thank you.

Love,

Your Mom

This letter from Your girl to Mickey the Dog was written on Wednesday, April 21, 2010Mickey the Dog

Dear Mickey the Dog,

Not a day goes by that I don't think of you. Maybe I should be "over it" by now but you were my boy and so I guess I am not. It's been more than five years now since you left on a new journey. Sometimes I can see you in my mind's eye sitting beside me. The only difference now is that mostly I think of you and smile rather than cry. But I sure do miss you.

I hope I provided you the life you wanted to live and gave you all the love you desired and needed...So that your next life would be even better than this!

I miss you Mickey. You were kind and compassionate and always ready to lend an ear and a shoulder to cry on when I need it. Thank you for being there.

Love,

Your girl

This letter from s_hebeler to Mom and Dad was written on Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Dear Mom and Dad,

I really miss you a lot. I try to be an adult about growing up and being self reliant. But I miss the security of waking up to you and being able to share daily happenings. I wish I never left home. And I am really sorry I did. For all the experiences I have had to date will never compare to sharing life with you. It is difficult being a late life adult child and losing you both one to cancer and now one to Alzheimer. I will always love you no matter what. I miss you Dad. I took care of mom to the best of my capabilities. You know how stubborn she is! But we finally made piece and became "friends" again as you asked me to promise we would. We did. She is okay and with your son right now. But she misses you a lot, too, as she changes into a different person each day further away from the mom I know. I wish for one day back home just as things were, just one day. I love you.

Love,

s_hebeler

This letter from Kate to Ernie was written on Tuesday, April 20, 2010Ernie

Dear Ernie,

It's so difficult to believe its almost been one year since you've been gone. I want you to know I still cry sometimes because I miss you and that if I could have anything in the world, it would be to have those years before I knew you back right now. Seven years just wasn't enough, but I sure am glad I had them. I got a new little buddy who was born on the day I lost you, I thought it was a great thing because we could celebrate you and him on the same day. His name is norman and he's silly pup, you would probably tell him to buzz off. When I think about you, I still remember the way it felt to pet your fur and I imagine you smiling and running around chasing after the carpenter bees like you used to do back in New Orleans. I know we'll see each other again one day, but just know that you're in my thoughts all of the time and you will always be my old man best friend.

Love,

Kate

This letter from The Pack Leader and the Girls to Callie and NIkki was written on Tuesday, April 20, 2010Callie and NIkki

Dear Callie and NIkki,

And this goes out to ALL of my friends who took great care, and continue to take GREAT CARE, of MY GIRLS... I owe you a world of gratitude, and love, for keeping them safe and happy. Whether I was heading out to sea, exploring the seafloor in a little submersible, locked in the NR-1 nuclear submarine, diving with the whale sharks and Manta Rays, flying to Hawaii or London, or simply exploring the streets of Philadelphia, New York City, or Lancaster, PA, I always knew you were SAFE....And thought of you often.

Anything else in this world is a relatively minor detail...

Love,

The Pack Leader and the Girls