Dear Duck,

Duck

For 14 years, you were the best dog ever designed by committee. We used to joke that you were proof that God has not only a sense of humor but a stockpile of spare parts. You were my heart. You were the first dog I ever raised from a puppy and on a semi, besides. You ate computer cords, air ride seats, water bottles, every hardbound book I ever brought onto the truck and the insides of paper towel rolls. We let you live anyway. When you were little, your ears dragged when you ran and you made us laugh. When you got into your teen years, your favorite trick was flushing birds out of the butterfly bush and catching them in midair. Then, as an adult, retrieving ANYTHING that was thrown. Your favorite? Tennis balls thrown into the bay in Monterey. I cannot count the number of baths I gave you out of a gallon bottle of water in the middle of a truck stop! You got off the truck when my son-in-law was deployed so that you could go and guard the family – and you did. No one got past you to those kiddoes. My son-in-law came home and you retired to a life of ease in Texas, which is where all good dogs should live. You lived through an attack by a bulldog, being loved by 5 babies, the annual fight between you and our boxer–who always thought she should be alpha (she never won)–but old age just finally got you. I love you. I miss you. I will see you again.

Breed: Catahoula/Sharpei cross

Dear Gunner,

For 16 years you have been a faithful friend whose loyalty and devotion has never wavered. You’ve been my calm in some of life’s fiercest storms. And your capacity to love has always amazed me. My heart is breaking now as I watch you start your journey towards the Rainbow Bridge, but you will not walk alone. I will be with you every step of the way. And my love for you will go on forever…for the rest of my days.
Breed: Catahoula x Australian Shepherd

Dear Pete – Not just a Hog Dog. He’s a people dog!,

‘Oh, Pete’ he’s so neat! He’s a little guy – he’s my Pete pie!!. How many times did I sing that to you? Probably not enough to match how often you’ve been there for me since we met that fateful day at the drop zone.

It was just by chance that I was in Illinois. And probably even more so in the fact that I was ready for a dog again. I had gotten my skydiving done for the day with a few jumps that I had done. Had the woman behind the counter not mentioned a really cute dog around the corner that was looking for a home, I probably never would have met you. I seen the photo your owners put up, and your information. I looked it over, and then considered it. Next thing I knew, I was walking out the door, past the landing area for incoming skydivers, and found you at the far end, sitting with your owner, waiting. I sat and started talking to her, getting information. And of course, you whined and inched over and put your head in my lap while watching the skydivers coming in. Eventually you came with me the next weekend on a trial basis, you knew you had til the coming weekend to make me keep you. Wasn’t to hard as you had me by mid-week and knew it!

The number of fans you have accumulated is astounding to me. People coming by just to say hello or to even just catch a glimpse of you was a jaw dropping experience. But one of the things that gets me the most with you is how patient you are with me and my short comings…And my dangerous job that takes me away when I don’t want to be away from you. If they allowed dogs out there to fight fires in the forest I know they would hire you. You’re great at digging! Remember that day in the courtyard of our apartment when you kicked up quite a bit of change? I thought we were going to have enough to make rent that time! And that’s another thing I want to address in this letter to you.

Pete…Oh Pete. I am so sorry for when we got evicted. I know you didn’t care because you were with me through the entire ordeal. What could be better than hanging out with your partner with no breaks in-between? You didn’t lose sight of me in that situation. When friends suggested I give you up I refused. I figured it wasn’t fair – not when you had been there for me through all the struggles of trying to make it on our own. You were the last good thing I had left in my life. I had sworn to you ’till death do us part’ – I was going to uphold that vow! You aren’t an accessory to me – you’re my partner! Besides….not everyone understands a Catahoula. And I don’t think anyone could ever understand what it was like that night we were huddled together against a running clothes dryer just to keep warm in late December. And then…that next day came and a miracle happened to us. How far we have come, you and I. And I have kept my word about keeping a roof over both our heads since then and I will continue to try to do just that in spite of these hard times. I just want you to know that I couldn’t have a better partner to stick with me through it all. Thank you for that. Our friends were right – you really do love me unconditionally. And rest assured, it’s the same from me to you. I am so glad you chose me! Thanks for sticking with me through the hardest times of both our lives! I couldn’t have a better dog for it!

Love, always and forever,

Your mom (Val)