Greetings, Mark! This is one of the coutless stories about my boy, Bowser. Back in 1983 my mother had passed from metastatic pancreatic cancer. She had lived for more than 4 years, which by today’s standards is unheard of. My brother and I went to a breeder in NJ to purchase a yello lab puppy. When Gordon, the breeder, opened the pen and released the sea of tumbling, bounding yellow puppies, I watched in awe. One puppy in particular left his jumble of brothers and sisters and purposefully walked over to me and sat on my foot. This was the one. He picked me. There was nothing I could do about it. It took alot of fighting with the breeder to sell us the puppy, not because he wanted him, but because he was the “runt” of the litter. Well, this “runt” grew to be over 120 pounds! In addition, he was born house-trained! Yes, he pooped once in the house, and that was it. When I would walk him, he never needed a leash. He would be right at my right hip and stop whenever I would. He understood complete sentences, with multiple commands. Of course he was a house-dog, never having to bear the indignity of being chained to some tree in the yard. People who do that to their dogs don’t deserve to have them. Bowser and I were insepparable. He had to be in contact with me constantly, or at least, have me within eyesight or it sounded like the the end of the world. My bed was his bed, or, more correctly, he allowed me to sleep in his bed…LOL! I never minded sharing my bed with Booze because, even at 120(+) pounds, he allways wanted to snuggle with me. Many times he would make this little sound and jump on the couch. For the next 10 minutes or so, he would stare, unmoving, into my eyes. The overwhelming feeling of contentment that I experienced was indescribable. Over his 13 year life he brought me more joy and unconditional love than I will ever be deserving of. In addition, he saved my life when I went into anaphalaptic shock and got my brother to help me. His favorite game was “get the stick”, which, I am certain, needs no description…other than the fact that he knew what the words meant. He was allways energetic and happy and the most wonderful dog you could ever hope to be blessed with. That is why his hip dysplasia and degenerative spine disease was so torturous. For the last 2 remaining years of his life he was almost 100% incontinent, had no use of his hind legs, and panted constantly, which indicated pain. My brother and I did all we could to ease his suffering including operations, cortisone shots and pain killers. They did help, but not enough. In 1994 I moved away to take a new career and I felt like such a traitor to my Booze, but I knew he was in good, loving hands with my brother. I had been in my new city for a little over a week when I had a dream. In this dream Bowser and I were playing “get the stick” and he was his old energentic, pain-free self. The odd thing was that he wasn’t a puppy, but looked the same way he did when I left. The sky was blue, the sun warming. I lay on the warm grass with Bowser and he just looked deep into my eyes like he had always done. After a time, he curled up next to me and rested his head on my shoulder. I could hear and feel his breath on my ear, as well as the funny little contented sound he allways used to make. Well, I woke from the dream feeling very content and happy. Roughly 10 or 15 minutes later I received a call from my brother. He had no choice but to put my Booze to sleep that same morning because the vets couldn’t control his pain. My Bowser, my boy. He had eased the pain of loosing my mother, saved my life literally from anaphalaxis, and had been my true friend and companion for 13 years. Now, he had come to see me one last time; not in pain, but as he was when we were the happiest. It was his way of letting me know that, not only had he passed, but that he was happy and pain free again. I flew out to California the next day to bury him and spent the next 2 days crying uncontrollably. That was 12 years ago and, although the pain has been blunted, I want my boy back. My consolation is that he is happy, pain-free, and waiting for me when it’s my time. I thank God Almighty, and Bowser, for considering me worthy enough to enjoy my time with him. I also thank God Almighty, and Bowser, for considering me worthy enough to see Bowser one last time in my dream. I am fully confident that Bowser’s beautiful spirit had visited me and I am truly greatful and humbled that he would do that for me. I loved Bowser as a son and, for as hard as it was for me to lose him, I could NEVER imagine the pain of losing a child. That is why I am so greatful to our brave men and women in our armed services, as well as to their parents. Thank you all and God bless every one of you for your sacrifice, patriotism, and unyeilding selflessness.

Tom from New Jersey