Mr. Levin:

I just finished reading ‘Rescuing Sprite’ and just had to take the opportunity to let you know what an incredible book it was. I identified a lot of what my husband and I are going through with our dog, a shepard-collie mix named Buddie. She has the look of a shepard pup, with the brown, caramel and white coloring of a collie and the most precious face and big brown eyes.

My husband got Buddie as a pup 15 ½ years ago after we were only dating a year. At the time, I lived in an apartment and couldn’t have pets. So, he kept her at his parent’s house. In the beginning, Buddie was an outside dog, but as she got older my mother in law softened and brought her into the house.

Three years ago, he and I bought his mother’s house in order to help take care of her. We inherited Buddie of course. Before her, I never had a pet and wasn’t sure how to act around her. It wasn’t long before she and I developed a routine that was second nature. I began looking forward to coming home from work and taking our walks. At the time, she was almost 13 and still very spry and active. She would pull me most of the way!

As time went on, I found myself treating her and talking to her as if she were human. I swear, most time I thought she was! Because my husband and I have no children, she filled the void in my life. I would speak to her in gentle tones, whisper “I love you” in her ear, kiss her snout and put my arm around her as she sat up so that her head was nuzzled perfectly under my chin. This dog craves contact, human contact, of any kind, so affectionate she is. She has the most amusing habit we call ‘the bionic nose’ where you’ll be sitting at the table and she’ll come up and nudge your arm with her nose until your hand wound up resting on top her of head. That was her way of saying, “pet me!” She is both a joy and a comfort.

As the past 3 years went by, her back leg has begun to weaken a bit, normal for a dog her age. However, what alarmed us the most was the soft, fatty tumors growing on her chest. One was so big that we had it removed in June, only for 3 more to reappear less than 3 month’s later. We were told that, if we had them removed, she would need a skin graft, not to mention chemo as they are mast cell tumors and likely cancerous. My husband and I anguished for 2 weeks over what to do. We don’t want her to suffer, but we don’t want to put a dog that has so much life in her down. The tumors aren’t bothering her, but it’s the fact that they will grow to a point where they will split her skin, which will cause her the pain that will be her undoing. We just can’t sit around and wait for that to happen, but to put an almost 16 year old dog though surgery and chemo (not to mention the expense) is just not viable. Instead, our vet gave us Prednisone to help slow down the growth so we could have more time with her.

My husband is a regular listener of your radio show and talks about you a lot. He was the one who mentioned to me how he heard your program when you talked about your situation with your dog and that you wrote a book about it. I knew that I would need preparation for when the time came that we’d have to make the decision to put Buddie to sleep, so I went on Amazon.com and purchased your book. The similarities between what you went through with Sprite and what we’re going through with Buddie were astonishing. If I never had a dog, I never would’ve connected to what you went through with Sprite. I probably would’ve been one of those, “Oh, it’s only a dog” people, but I now know there is no such phrase as “it’s only a dog”. She follows me around the house the way Sprite followed your wife. She immediately darts to the bin in the refrigerator when I open the door where I keep the baby carrots (her favorite treat!) the way Sprite would wait by the pantry for a treat. She patiently waits in the kitchen for me (as her weak bladder prevents us from having her roam on the new rugs!) the wait Sprite would wait outside your office until your show was done. The unconditional love just floors me.

I am so grateful you wrote ‘Rescuing Sprite’ because it helped alleviate some anxieties over whether or not we are doing the right thing. We know we are doing all we reasonably can for her and can only smother her with love and care until the day where we will have to make that decision. I hope and pray that the medication will slow the growth (or even shrink) her tumors to give us as much time as possible. I dread thinking of the pain she’ll be in once her skin splits. I can’t even think about it.

So, thank you for sharing your bittersweet journey with Sprite. What an absolutely gorgeous dog he was. And….his fur looks as soft as you said it was!

Elena from CT

Here is a pic of my precious snowdog two years ago during the first snow fall of that year. Her eyes are just too beautiful!