‘ve enjoyed listening to you for a long time but after hearing you talk about losing Sprite I had to write to you. We lost our Luke on 7/19/07. We had decided almost twenty years ago not to adopt any more dogs because of the tremendous pain we experienced when we lost our Fido (a beautiful, sweet Doberman I found on the streets of Long Island City) to cancer. At that time we felt we did not want to endure that kind of pain again. Well on September 10, 2005 we went to our local shelter “just to look” and fell in love with a very sad and depressed yellow Lab named Luke.

Luke was the only dog in the entire shelter not barking and simply watching each person as they went by his kennel. Thank goodness my husband had the ability to see what a wonderful dog Luke was and we adopted him that day. Luke slept most of next three days, mostly in the sun in our back yard as he regained his strenght. Luke had to learn to live in a home because his one and only owner (in Kentucky) had kept him in a dog house. This wonderful, sweet dog just wanted our love and attention, which we gave to him in abundance. Luke quickly became a member of our family and brought us joy each and every day. In July of this year Luke seemed to not be himself. I thought at first it might just be the heat because he was a large Lab at 117 pounds but he was all muscle. After about a week of not seeming to be himself we took Luke to our Vet and he said those words that break your heart. He said Luke had a tumor and needed some x-rays and a biopsy. We ended up going to the excellent Red Bank Veterinary Hospital because we wanted to give our Luke the best chance at survival. Our local Vet was honest enough to say the surgery needed to be done at a major veterinary center.

Luke had a very rare kidney cancer. We took him immediately to the emergency services at RBVH, and then to one of their oncologists and finally to surgery. The tumor proved to be inoperable and we made the terrible decision to let Luke go while he was already sleeping. As recently as this week I am still talking to the surgeon with my doubts about making the right decision for my darling boy. Luke was the sweetest dog I have ever had the good fortune to love …he was my shining light in life and I miss him every day. I look in the yard and expect to see him chasing squirrels or watching me from the front window as I pull in the driveway. Grief can come at any time, on the train to Penn Station and suddenly I think of how I won’t ever see Luke again or I’m driving home from grocery shopping and thinking for that split second “I can’t wait to hug Luke”.

The pain is in my heart and I will miss him for the rest of my life. Before Luke became ill we had been considering adopting another shelter dog because there are so many wonderful animals just waiting for a home. We were on the member list at our local shelter. This is the same shelter we adopted Luke from and the day after Luke died (the shelter had no idea yet that we had lost our boy) they left me a message about a young female Lab mix. I was reluctant, I was going back to my previous way of thinking…no dog…no pain. After all we had waited many years after losing Fido and then we adopted Luke and fell in love with him only to lose him at the young age of 3 1/2 and also to cancer. My husband didn’t want us to wait…I said I’m not ready but he said just the right thing, “there is a dog that needs a loving home”. We brought out Bella home a few days after we lost our Luke. Bella had been returned to the shelter twice in the past three months…I have no idea why for she is a wonderful girl. A week ago today we adopted our second shelter dog in three months, Bogie is a very frightened, timid Beagle mix….really it’s hard to tell. He is a bit of this and a bit of that. Bogie also spent most of this week sleeping…he was exhausted. Both Bella & Bogie were brought up to NJ from a high kill shelter in Kentucky. Bogie is 5 years old and his history said he had been kept tied by a chain in the back yard. We are doing our best to give him lots of love and to make him feel safe and secure.
So Mark, both Bella and Bogie bring the joy that every dog owner understands but we miss our Luke. These wonderful dogs are never interchangeable, one can never replace another because each is unique in his behavior and personality. So I still cry for Luke, still wish I could hold him again, or just see him running in the yard but I know he knew how much we loved him and he loved us even more. My Luke’s ashes are right next to Fido’s ashes which we’ve had for twenty years and are kept in our bedroom so we can feel them close to us. How lucky we were to adopt that sad, depressed , extra large Lab called Luke. Luke you made us smile every day and brought joy to our hearts…I will always miss your smiling face.

Emily from NJ