This letter from Your friend, the one you rescued - Erin to Fish was written on Sunday, September 7, 2014Fish

Dear Fish,

Little did I know that I was the one being rescued.

A number of years ago, I lost my first Newfoundland dog at only a year and half old after multiple hip replacement surgeries failed. I swore I would never get another Newfoundland again.

We moved & my life was an utter mess until I eventually made the decision to get some help. But none the less I didn't like myself, or my life at the time.

Less than a month later, out of the clear blue, came a phone call from a rescue group out of South Dakota asking if we were interested in adopting a Newfie that had been abandoned on a farm for the first year and a half of his life. Now bare in mind we hadn’t signed up on a list of potential adaptors… to this day we don’t know how they got our number in the first place. All we know was that they had a Newfie named Fish (strange name for a dog), and wanted to know if we wanted to adopt him. They said that they were going to make him a service dog, but his hips were not good enough for that, and that if we wanted him we could have you, so we did.

We went to pick up Fish in SD. They had to shave down the dog because his coat was so matted down it was causing skin infections. He had a scar across the bridge of his nose from fighting off coyotes on the farm. I remember walking up to this mess of a dog, who barked and tried jumping on me and thought to myself… what the hell did I get myself into? I grabbed the leash and began giving commands and training him on the spot.

From that day forward … he never left my side.

Through all of my life changes, divorce, new jobs, relocating twice (once across the country), relationships … he was the single constant that I could always count on. On bad days, I would sit at my chair and sometimes breakdown because I thought life was too much… and he would walk up to me, nudge my arm, whine and bark at me. It was like he was saying “Excuse me, what are you crying about? You know what I’ve gone through in my life, you can get through this, this my friend is easy!”. He was amazing.

Lately he stopped eating, and lost a dramatic amount of weight. This morning, during emergency surgery, they found a massive inoperable tumor. I gave my vet permission to end his suffering. It was so hard. When we brought him in I knew something was wrong, and I prayed to my higher power that if there is something wrong, to take him NOW, and not make him suffer - prayer answered.

Sometimes, someone or something is placed into your life, and there is no earthly answer as to why or how. I call it a “God Moment”, because that is the only explanation. That was Fish. Fish entering my life was indeed a “God Moment”. I don’t know how they found our number, I don’t know how I let my now ex-wife talk me into adopting him. All I know is that he was, as my Mom put it upon hearing the bad news, “the one rock I had in my life”. Truer words were never spoken.

I have always said that we as human beings are blessed that we have the ability to stop the suffering of our companions when they are ill. This holds true today. As much as it hurts me, I know that he is no longer suffering, which is truly the greatest gift I could give him. I gave it to him when he was rescued, and gave him an amazing life, and in death I also was able to give him that gift.

No one can understand how he has given that gift back to me ten-fold. He truly saved me from me, in a sense he rescued me. So while that handsome black and white newfie named Fish wasn’t good enough to be an official “service dog”, he was the biggest, slobberingest, life-saving-service-dog money could never buy.

My dearest Fisher (boo-boo) you are free my friend. Thank you for your companionship. Thank you for my life. Thank you for the smiles and laughter. Thank you for being by my side for the past 5 plus years. Go run, go play, go be.

Love,

Your friend, the one you rescued - Erin

This letter from Mom mom to Bunny was written on Sunday, August 31, 2014Bunny

Dear Bunny,

You came into my life nearly 6 years ago as a senior gal that had been bred and discarded. Thankfully you were rescued by OBHR and then you rescued me.

We drove 800 miles to pick you up in Ohio and then headed back to Alabama. You walked through our front door as if you had lived here all your life and took the role as Queen without a hitch. You fit our family like a glove. You loved your walks on the golf course and your dips in the ponds. More than anything, you loved food and savored every single bite. You loved us as much as we loved you, yet you were always a bit aloof. You were stingy with kisses but we knew that you really meant it when you would give one. (or we had food on our face) You were far from a lap dog, but you were always present. You would always appeared in every room I was in. Almost stealth like, which was impressive for a 90 pound basset. You wore your old age like a crown and never complained. Not even once.

I want you know that I did not know how sick you really were. I knew there was something wrong but neither the vet nor I realized what. Even if I did, there was nothing I could do. Your cancer spread so quickly and at 14 1/2 I would never have tried to operate. I would rather lose you in my arms that on an operating table.

It has only been 6 days since I last saw your gentle face. I know that your mind and your heart wanted to stay, but your body had nothing left. I think you knew it was time. I held you in my arms and stoked your soft brow as you drifted to the bridge. Your paw was in my hand as I promised you it would be.

I miss your gentle snores, your grunts and your groans. I miss waking up and lying on the floor with you for our morning cuddle. You would yawn and stretch with acknowledgement. I miss the water that dribbled from your mouth with every drink. I miss the demanding barks at the stroke of 5pm for your dinner and most of all, I miss your happy waddle to the front door to greet me. It didn't matter if I had been gone 10 minutes or 10 hours, the greeting was celebratory!

I am happy that you will no longer suffer with your fear of storms. The fear that you suffered was always so hard on us both. I am glad that you will never go through that fear again.

Boo, Emma and Dusty are wondering where you are. I don't know how a house can be so empty when I have three furkids to keep me company, but it does.

On Tuesday I will pick up your ashes and bring you home. But I know that they are only symbolic. I know you are at the bridge. Living and loving and waiting for me. You will always be with me, forever in my heart.

Thank you for sharing your life with me. Thank you for your love.

Kisses and hugs until I see you again.

xoxo

Love,

Mom mom

This letter from Angela to Emmy was written on Friday, August 22, 2014Emmy

Dear Emmy,

I adopted you from a cocker spaniel rescue about 7 years ago and when I picked you up on January 6, 2008, you forever changed my life - for the better. I loved playing with your floppy ears, taking you to Rice over the weekends, and cuddling with you in bed. When I think of you, you are chasing bunnies at Rice, eating the cream cheese frosting off my carrot cake, lying on your back with your belly in the air, eating crayons off the floor that my daughter has dropped, scratching our bedsheets to make yourself a warm spot to sit, sitting on my lap when I am driving, and watching me go through the nighttime routine with my daughter. You taught me how to care for someone other than myself and prepared me for how to love my children. Even when you started to feel ill, you always had enough energy to greet me, nudge my hand for a scratch, follow me around the house, and to patiently sit next to me while I played with the kids.

I miss you so much and wish I could just see you again, give you a hug, kiss you on your nose and forehead, and give you a neck scratch and belly fart. It was beyond painful to let you go but I knew I had to for you. I let a piece of myself go that day too because I never want you to feel alone- I want a part of me to always be with you.

Thank you for sharing your life with me. I am a better person because of you. I love you immensely and I hope one day I can take you to the park again.

Love,

Angela

This letter from Mom (Amy) to Rexy was written on Thursday, July 31, 2014Rexy

Dear Rexy,

My best friend, I miss you everyday since we have parted.....I remember so vividly the day we brought you home from MSU, I have never been so scared in my life, the mere thought of you leaving me made my whole body shake and the pain in my heart was too much to bear, I wanted nothing more for you than to be healthy and playing with your brother again and going everywhere with your Mom..... I tried everything I could manage and if there was a slight percentage that you would have had a quality life, I would have risked it all for you!!! You filled my days Rexy, you truly are my best friend and your personality was hilarious you really acted human at times, but sensitive mostly to me (Mom) as if you knew what I was saying and thinking at times, I have never experienced the love and bond btwn an animal and an owner until you, I am forever grateful of that.....and beyond grateful that I was blessed with you in my life, 10 years was too short, I would do it all over again with you! I miss you so much, it hurts down to my toes... You are forever in my heart and soul my precious son...

Love,

Mom (Amy)

This letter from Mom to Max was written on Sunday, July 20, 2014Max

Dear Max,

Your 1 year anniversary of crossing over the rainbow bridge will be coming up in a couple of months and the hole in my soul that was created when you died is still there. I miss you so much. You came to me as if you were a Christmas present sent to me from Bogart. We even found you under the hood of Dad's car covered in oil and grime just like I found Bogart all those years ago. I still remember that dirty orange and white kitten that I scooped up and carried inside straight to the kitchen sink for a bath.

You were my Buddy. You greeted me with a "hello" every morning and you would curl up on the couch with me in the evening. I miss hearing you sing as you hunted toy mice through the house. I miss waking up in the morning and finding the pile of toy mice that you left for me in front of my bedroom door.

Fifteen years just was not enough time. I was looking forward to having your company for at least the next five years.

You and I fought so hard to get you well. You were so patient with every feeding and every dosing of medication. But in the end, neither of us were strong enough for your cancer. I am so sorry, Max. I am so sorry I failed.

Even though Salem, Bounder and Patches (as well as Willow) are still here and Bounder has started singing and hunting toy mice in the evening. It is not the same.

When we took you to the Vet's to put you to sleep one last time, I tried so hard to make it easy for you. I asked for an IV shunt and for them to give you a tranqulizer. I gave you a big dose of your pain meds before we left. I hope you went without fear or pain. I hope in the end, I did right by you.

Our house seems so empty with just 3 cats and a dog. I keep waiting for a kitten to show up on my doorstep to make our family complete. If it shows up all dirty and grimey, I'll know you sent him.

Love,

Mom

This letter from Mommy to Oscar was written on Wednesday, July 9, 2014Oscar

Dear Oscar,

June 17, 2014 will forever hold a place in our hearts as the day we bid you good-bye. I’ll never forget as daddy’s truck pulled away, you in the front seat on a towel. At one time, you would be jumping up and down looking out the window, wagging your tail and watching us wave at you. That day, however, you could barely raise your head as you took your final journey to the vet. Not a dry eye was found as the neighbor’s watched Gregory chase the truck down the road. I’m sure you must have heard his cries as he begged daddy to stop and not to take you away. After all, you were his bestest friend and the first to greet him when we brought him home from the hospital as an infant.

Remembering back to 2005 as I looked through all the adoptable Dachshunds on the rescue site, I still see your face and recall reading your bio written by your foster mom: “Oscar loves stealing socks so watch out!” When we decided to adopt you and have you join “sister” Courtnie, another rescue Dachshund, you waltzed into our home as if you owned it. From that moment on, you did, and our hearts as well. When Gregory joined us in 2006, we were nervous, as you were a jealous pup, and we held our breaths bringing him home. You were a kind little soul, guarding the baby against Courtnie (but we soon learned it was because he threw Cheerios on the floor for you to catch). You grew together and were often found chasing soccer balls in the yard and sliding down his playhouse slide. We bought you an “indestructible” ball and it is still too raw for us to move it from where you left it in the yard. You adored children and taking Gregory to and from school, and they, in turn, loved “Mr. Meyer.” We always tried to remember to tie on one of your bandanas.

We took such good care of you, Oscar, but sadly, like people, everyone at one point or another becomes ill despite the care, no matter how excellent it is. The vet noticed your blood work was off on one of your visits and advised us you were in renal failure. We took precautions and bought special food which you despised, and provided medication which would help carry you into June. The vet was amazed your will to live was so strong; she was not so hopeful when you had first been diagnosed, especially since you had surgery for a tumor in March.

Everyone adored you – even the surgeons at the emergency clinic who met you for only a day. Once they heard of your passing sent our family a lovely fruit arrangement. All I could think of as we enjoyed it was “if Oscar were here, he would be begging for a strawberry!” We knew when you wouldn’t eat your favorite – cheese and baloney, that your time was nearing and I couldn’t allow you to suffer. Your breathing was so terribly labored, your breath, uremic – a sure sign of renal failure. Your once-shiny coat had turned dull and your hair had begun to fall out in clumps. You had lost so much weight and our “little sausage” was so frail.

Daddy called after you were gone letting us know that you had passed away peacefully at 12:12 PM, your paw in his hand. You simply closed your eyes and went to sleep. You were now at peace, at The Bridge, and ready to take on new adventures, steal yet more socks, and prepare for our someday-arrival. And when I hear the clicking of your nails on the hardwood floor and see a soccer ball rolling across the backyard by itself, I’ll simply smile, knowing you are with me still.

See you in my dreams, Oscar. I love you.

Farewell, Friend, but not “farewell.”

Where I’ve gone, you too, shall dwell.

I am gone before your face –

A little time, a little space.

Once you’ve walked where I have stepped,

You will wonder why you wept.

• E. Arnold

Love,

Mommy

This letter from Bobby & Patsy to Maggy was written on Wednesday, June 18, 2014Maggy

Dear Maggy,

You were a companion sent from heaven especially for us. Sent at just that perfect moment in life when I needed you the most. You came as a puppy Christmas 2004, barely 6 months old, born May 29th, 2004.

On February 5, 2005 I was in a terrible accident and lost my right leg. Although I was really very fortunate to have survived I felt my life had just as well ended instead of being crippled the rest of my life. Ten days in the hospital and returning home, you were there so happy to see me home again. With much healing to go through, you were constantly at my side. If I moved, you moved. Often you were even in bed with me, just watching over me.

I didn't think I'd ever be able to do much again. Wouldn't be able to take the walks with you that you always looked forward to or play tug of war which you usually won. But you insisted that I get back up, get the prosthetic on and go on with life. You really were my physical therapist, pulling on me all the way.

The years rolled by and you were always with us no matter where we were headed. Travelling cross country or down the coast, you were there for the adventure. So many photos were taken of you posing with us or all the other family members. Everybody loved you and you loved everybody. Being a St. Bernard, you were special in so many ways and filled with 100% pure love.

Suddenly one day out of the blue you began to limp on your left front shoulder. A quick visit to the veterinarian thinking is was but a sprain because the way you jumped around for such a large dog. Two hours later after the X-rays revealed a massive bone cancer had totally destroyed much of the bone structure in your left shoulder. There was nothing that could be done the Vet said. There was amputation and chemotherapy that may prolong your life for another year but there would be much discomfort and pain.

The hardest decision I've ever had to make in my life I made on May 30, 2014. One day after Maggys' 10th birthday. It was my decision to make and mine alone. I couldn't bare to see you suffer but I could be there with you to help you to a better place without pain or discomfort.

Goodbye Maggy,

I love you and miss you so much

Peace,

Bobby & Patsy

This letter from Mom and Dad to Samantha was written on Saturday, May 24, 2014Samantha

Dear Samantha,

A dream came true the day I hugged you for the first time, you marked the beginning of so many good things with a couple of bitten shoes...

I miss you and I am very sorry not being able to be with you in your last hours, even when you gave me every second of you existence...

I always thought you were going to pass away on my arms, knowing that I was there for you, I'm really sorry...

Silver eyes, golden heart, your brothers and sisters are still looking for you all around the house, both your mom and I love you so much...

I still don't have the huge house for you, I guess time ran out on us, I miss your fluffiness, and your never-ending hunger, to you goes all the fried chicken, burgers, pizzas and pork I'll ever have.

In tear I say see you soon, this is not a good bye, for you will always be a part of me...

I love you

P.D.

I hope you are happy where ever you are...

Missing You,

Mom and Dad

This letter from mama to SMOKEY was written on Monday, May 5, 2014

Dear SMOKEY,

I miss you very much. You were the best cat I ever had.iWANTED YOU TO LIVE FOREVER. When you got sick and I had to put you down my heart was riped right out of my chest. I think you had a good life with me for almost 15 years. I will never forget you because you are deep in my heart. I love you. Rest easy my friend and play.

Love,

mama

This letter from mamma (nicole) to Bruno was written on Sunday, May 4, 2014

Dear Bruno,

I miss you so much. Your brother does to.

it is lonely with you gone. you daddy(richard) loves you so do i. blacky is so lazy and some time it seems that he wants to be around you. i know he does. church today was good and we talked about the spirt. i thaut of you.

i cant belive you was 3. today it 5/4/14.

well i guess when i die ill see you in heaven. i will miss you. i hope someday that when we get to heaven well see each other. i bet you have many friends.

i have a few firends now in middle school. i love it. well i hate my astent principal. well tell next time .

I LOVE YOU.*

Love,

mamma (nicole)