Our Dearest Hannah,

Our Dearest Hannah,

Sweet Princess, how is it that one such as you could save us in our despair. You came to us one cold February day. Your previous owner was hardly at home and you spent allot of time at the boarding place.

You didn’t really understand what “loving” really was, as far as a hug or kiss. You were merely content to just have someone throw the tennis ball and not really touch you that much. It took a bit more than a year, but you finally came around and let us hug you and kiss your beautiful face.

We got you to keep North our older Golden company and so he could have a playmate. The two of you hit it off wonderfully. You were a great travel dog, calm on car rides and great about not chasing the Buffalo at Yellowstone – our favorite annual road trip destination. Lots of road trips and numerous different states – you have allot of wonderful stories to tell.

Unfortunately – that horrible day in July of 2009 came and our wonderful baby boy, North left to pave the Rainbow Bridge with Golden rays. I guess he wanted to make sure everything was set and ready for when you would join him once again.

How can I tell you that you honestly saved us from utter despair when North left? We were devastated and at the time we didn’t know if we would make it through. We know you miss him…as we do. I see it now, some of the “far away looks” you have, North had the same look on his face shortly before he left. It scares me to see that.

You are 13 now, your arthritic body sometimes just will not cooperate with you. Your strong will has helped you survive for 8 months now after your cancer diagnosis. You sleep allot now, your eyesight is failing and your hearing is getting quite selective.

My Princess, our Baby Girl you have saved my life merely by allowing me to be a part of yours. Thank you is not nearly enough…but there it is..THANK YOU!

When your time comes precious girl…you will cross the bridge, not as a rescue dog but as a hero who saved us.


Breed: Golden Retriever

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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.