When our children were 4, 7 and 10, we saw a sign for “Free Puppies”. We stopped and found a dozen puppies.Mom was a golden retreiver and it appeared that some of the puppies had a doderman dad, while others may have been fathered by a mastiff who lived down the road. One of those mastiff looking puppies waddled over to my husband and fell asleep on his shoe. We fell in love with this mild mannered puppy and took him home.From the size of his feet, we knew that he would grow into a heavyweight, so my husband named him Bugner, after the heavy weight boxer, Joe Bugner.Within a year this gentle giant was 125 pounds of pure muscle! He was “The King of the Basin” where we lived in Colorado. He guarded over our children and property by just looking intimidating.

He slept on our son, Mason’s bed every night.Mason was just 4 when we got Bugner. He was probably Mason’s closest friend. He went hiking and camping with Mason and our older son, Kelly.When they went horseback riding, Bugner ran as fast and as far as the horses to stay close to his boys.He had more heart than any dog I’ve ever known. He pulled the kids up and down snow covered hills on their sleds, and loved playing ball and frizbee with the kids.
One day, when our daughter was a teenager she was alone at home.She heard Bugner growling and barking and was about to tell him to “shut up” when she looked out the window and saw a strange man hiding in the trees in front of our house. Bugner was keeping him at bay by running back and forth in front of our house. One month later a young girl went missing a few miles from our house. She was later found dead. I’m not sure that it was the same stranger, but I’m confident that Bugner protected Jamie from harm.

When Mason left for college, Bugner was nearly 14- really old for a big dog! He hah had several surgeries for removal of mast cell tumors, but they kept coming back.I’m sure they matastisized because he kept getting weaker and weaker. We could tell that he longed to go on walks, but he didn’t have the strength.When he became so weak that he couldn’t stand up, we discussed having him put to sleep.
We called Mason at college and told him about his beloved friend.He asked us not to have him put to sleep until he could get home and tell him goodbye.

As soon as I hung up the phone, I went back into the familyroom were Jim and Bugner were sitting.Bugner used every bit of strength that he had to crawl over to my husband and lay his head on his lap. Jim pet his massive head as he had done for almost 14 years, and Bugner took his last breath.

Although we’ve had many dogs that we’ve loved, Bugner is the one that we are sure we’ll see at the gates of Heaven greeting and guarding!

Mason is now a CPT. in the U.S. Army- serving our country in Afganistan. I ordered him a signed copy of “Rescuing Sprite”- I’m sure he’ll be touched. Thank- you for all you do in supporting the troops!

MAJ. Susan Wilson, U.S. Army