Dear Gunner,

Gunner, My Battle Buddy…

You entered my life at such a trying time. I just returned from Iraq. The world I had known before, my entire life, no longer existed. Life in a combat zone had become normal for me. And this great country, along with its freedoms and liberties I fought to protect, had become so foreign. I was emotionally numbed by my experiences and could not tell you what I enjoyed in life anymore. I left my beautiful wife, and two young boys, all of whom I so desperately loved, only to return unable to feel or express my deep love for them.

I felt my world was falling apart around me and I didn’t know why. I didn’t feel safe anywhere. Going to the grocery store, my children’s school…even a simple walk in the neighborhood was mentally exhausting. I had recurring nightmares that bothered me long after they ended. I desperately needed help. And then you arrived and gave me hope. You have my back everywhere we go and make me feel safe in places I once avoided. You remind me every day that there is good in this world and there is love. You show me how to forgive and forget and help me relax in times of stress. Most importantly, you bring a ray of sunshine to my family and me. You mean the world to us! While words can never truly capture how important you are, I want to say thank you, Gunner, my friend. With every gentle nudge and with every attentive move, you help me realize that while combat is horrific and will always be part of my life as well as the lives of all service members who’ve answered the call of duty, it does not define who we are.

Lieutenant, U.S. Navy
Naval Hospital Jacksonville, Fla.

Dear Buckie,

Never Forgotten and Always Loved…

4 years have now passed since we were last together. My last memory of you is your beautiful brown eyes looking into mine as you drifted into a long, peaceful and heavenly sleep. No more pain, no more worries, just blissful dreams of happy times while you were with us. Your brother Maxwell is going up so fast. Reckless as always, getting into things he shouldn’t, being precocious as usual. He still remembers you though when I mention your name. You know, he still has that favorite toy you both use to play tug of war with. Not a day goes by that a memory of you doesn’t pop into my head. Pictures of you adorn my desk at work, my Facebook and my dresser at home. I wish you were around when I finally got married 3 years ago, we now live in a BEAUTIFUL house, much bigger and beautiful then the one we used to live in at Hopatcong. We live close to a park, I know both you and your brother would be frolicking through the woods just having a great ol’ time.

I know in my heart that you are ALWAYS with me, my Guardian Angel. Max at times demonstrates many of your characteristics, as though you are living through him. No one can ever understand the bond you and I had, the love that a dog and his owner possess. You were more than just a dog, you were my son, my family and my protector. You always knew how to cheer me up or just to lay with me when I was sick or just feeling down. So many memories that will live forever in my heart and mind. I thank you for guiding Maxwell as he grew up under your wing, for he would not be the dog he is today. I truly miss you Buckie and will never EVER forget you. Until the day we meet again at the Rainbow Bridge, you will live on through me and your brother. We LOVE YOU. Until then, its not goodbye, its until later.

Love you always,
Mommy (Lizzy)

Dear Obi,