I just finished your book, Rescuing Sprite. At times, I had to stop reading because my eyes were too welled up with tears. I literally couldn’t see the words. You see, in the last week of April of this year, we lost our Bentley.

In late Summer/early Fall of 1991, my ex-wife and I walked into what was basically a pet shop called Shake-A-Paw in Toms River, New Jersey. We would often stop in there to look over the puppies, even though we had no intentions of buying one. We already had a dog. A Bassett hound named Regis. But going into Shake-A-Paw every now and then and looking at the puppies was fun. Although it was bitter-sweet, knowing these puppies didn’t have homes, it was still nice to watch them for a few minutes. On this particular day, there was a British Bulldog in one of the cages. He was fast asleep, oblivious to the chaos going on around him. We had never seen a more adorable dog. We both knew immediately we were leaving with that dog. I picked him up out of his cage and he still didn’t wake up. I jokingly asked the attendant, “Is he dead?” He eventually woke up and displayed the greatest personality. We played with him for awhile and then I asked the attendant how much they wanted for him. “Two thousand dollars.” Wow! That was a lot of money to us at the time, but I think she could’ve said four thousand dollars and we would’ve taken him anyway.

Bentley came home with us and instantly hit it off great with Regis, very much like Sprite did with Pepsi. About three years later, my wife and I got divorced. She wanted Regis. I wanted Bentley.

Bentley and I moved into a condo on the beach in Sea Bright, New Jersey. He was my friend and companion every day. I re-married a few years later. My new wife, Rae and Bentley got along fabulously. Like Sprite, he was just a great, easy-going bundle of warmth and friendship. I don’t know if you know this but British Bulldogs have a relatively short life span. Eight years is about it for them. You might get nine years out of them. If you’re really, really lucky, you might get ten. Bentley died one month short of his eleventh birthday.

He was having trouble the last couple years of his life. Although, like most bullies, he was never exactly a ball of energy, he had really slowed up. We live on the second floor and he was increasingly having more and more trouble getting up the stairs after our walks on the beach.

On April 29th of this year, my wife had got gotten out of the hospital after some semi-serious surgery. She was resting on the couch. I told her I was going to the supermarket to pick up some food and that I’d be back shortly. She fell asleep on the couch. Bentley was sleeping out on the balcony overlooking the ocean. I always made it a point to say Good Bye to Bentley before I left home for any reason. For the life of me, I don’t know why, but that day, I completely forgot to say Good Bye. I got to the supermarket and was there for about 30 minutes or so when my cell phone went off. It was my wife. He said there was something wrong with Bentley. “I don’t think he’s breathing”. I got the impression she knew he was dead, but couldn’t actually bring herself to use those words. I didn’t ask any questions. I just told her that I’d be right home. I was home in twenty minutes. I walked in and asked her if there had been a change, although I knew what the answer was going to be. I went out on the balcony and could tell just the way his body was positioned that he was dead. In a desperate attempt to make believe this wasn’t happening, I stopped about five feet before a got to him and asked, “Who would like to have a cookie?” No response. I approached him and picked him up. His body was limp. I laid him back down, laid down next to him and cried like a baby. Like you, I’d hadn’t cried like that since I was little kid and I was 53 when this happened.

It’s been almost eight months since this happened, but it seems like yesterday. I think of him EVERY day. I always had dogs in my life, but this guy was different. Eventually, we’ll get another dog, but there will never be another Bentley.

And you know, Mark, it’s funny, but your mind plays tricks on you. Sometimes, to this day, I thing I see him out of the corner of my eye. Sometimes I’ll smell him. Sometimes I’ll hear him.

At any rate, the book is great and you’re a great man. I am so sorry for the loss of your Sprite.

Denny from New Jersey