Hi Mark,

I just finished reading Rescuing Sprite, and can honestly say it touched me more than any other book I’ve ever read (and I’ve read many many dog books!). I cried more than I have since my beloved beagle Beamer died almost 5 years ago. However, your book also reassured and comforted me by conveying that there ARE other people in this world who feel such an emotionally deep bond with their dogs. I can COMPLETELY identify with your feelings towards Sprite. My mom told me as she was reading the book, “Amy, this is YOU,” referring to your attitude towards your dogs. I commend you for sharing your thoughts and feelings so openly, for perhaps making it “okay” for many more people to give their love whole-heartedly to their pets, and for possibly promoting extinction of the phrase “he/she was ‘just a dog.'” Thank you.

I would also like to share with you the story of my dog, Beamer. (I know this entry is becoming quite long, and I understand if it is too long for your website, but I DO hope that you get to at least read it.) I adopted Beamer from the animal shelter when she was a 7-week-old puppy (the runt of a litter of 11 beagle mix pups). When she was 9, she went through therapy dog training so that she could visit nursing homes and hospitals, and became a certified therapy dog. I also brought her to my school where I worked as a school psychologist, so she could work with children with learning and emotional issues. Children who were otherwise reluctant to read, eagerly and enthusiastically read to Beamer. Their confidence and attitude toward reading seemed to improve. She also joined two behaviorally-emotionally disabled students in their group sessions. Their faces lit up when they saw her, and when they walked her down the hallways they exuded pride and excitement. One boy who was initially uncommunicative and somber displayed compassion and love for Beamer (this was especially evident the day he folded her blanket for her so her head could rest on it comfortably).

Beamer won the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association Animal Hall of Fame Award in 2003. But it was not Beamer’s work that made her so special. It was her very soul and her love for every living thing. Kittens who were terrified of all other dogs sniffed noses with Beamer. A fellow therapy dog who was aggressive with all other Beagles was friends with Beamer. Unfortunately, Beamer passed away from congestive heart failure on 2-15-03 (she was not quite 11 years old). I was angry that she was taken from me so soon. Right before she passed, she had been undergoing treatment by the veterinary cardiologists at the NC State vet school. When three vets at NC State were examining her, she walked from one to the other, giving each one the opportunity to pet her, even though I’m sure she did not feel well. Even at the end when she was so sick, she was “working,” and giving her love away to everyone she met. One of the vets said Beamer was his favorite, and a vet intern said she was “the best dog in the world-next to her own.” She was also a favorite at her regular vet clinic, and known for her sweet nature. Anyway, I had many sleepless nights of rushing her to the hospital when she was having trouble breathing, administered many pills, and tried everything I could to extend her life.

The last day that she was alive-Feb. 14, 2003, was ironically one of her best days of the previous few months. I took a half-day off work that day so I could be with her, and we cuddled, went for walks, basked in the sun, and spent quality time together. She seemed to be feeling great, ate well, and wagged her tail a lot. I was encouraged that her treatment was helping her. The next morning I had to go to the grocery store. Beamer kept following me around the house (she usually slept while I did housework), but otherwise seemed okay. When I returned from the store, I found her on my bed (her favorite snoozing spot) stretched out. I thought she was asleep, and then my heart froze when I touched her and she did not respond. I rushed her to the vet and they tried everything they could, but could not bring her back. I stayed with her at the vet’s for I don’t know HOW long after her passing, just petting her, talking to her, and holding her. I was emotionally distraught and riddled with guilt that I had not been there when she passed away. It was as if she was waiting for me to leave her alone before she let go, and wanted to spare me the pain of watching her pass. Considerate even to the end. Maybe I should have had her put down sooner, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Sprite was a lucky dog to have you with him in his last minutes.

Beamer was the gentlest and kindest creature I’ll ever know. These words could hardly suffice to convey her essence, but I guess they will have to do. I have her ashes in a maple wood container with a picture of her on front, and keep them on my dresser in my bedroom. It is a comfort to me having her ashes with me. I wrote a poem about Beamer and posted it on a pet loss website (let me know if you want the address).

Thank you for letting me share Beamer’s story. I think of it as a tribute to her, as we are coming up on the 5-year anniversary of her crossing over “Rainbow Bridge.”

A final note: I resigned from my school psychology position to start my own pet sitting business. Now, my clients don’t talk back, and my work is more emotionally rewarding and fulfilling than ever! I, and my husband, also now have two dogs we obtained from local rescue groups-a beagle mix and a dachsund-chihuahua mix. I could easily write another 2 pages about these two, our “furchildren,” (we have no human children). They are the center of our lives and have completely stolen our hearts, as Beamer did. However, I will save that for another time!

Amy from IN


One Response

  1. faye lawrence Says:

    Thank you for sharing your story about Beamer

    What a great dog..