Dearest Mark,

Thank you for writing “Rescuing Sprite”. My step-son Eddie got it for me for my birthday last November , mainly because I had “tuned” him into your show several years ago prior to your nationwide syndication. Eddie is a Texas Army National Guard Iraq war veteran and only 23 years old. He listens to you on his way home from work every day and he knew I would enjoy your writing because I’ve talked about “Men in Black” and your show many times. He is our pride and joy, joining the military shortly after his 17th birthday, which is 09/11. That 17th birthday in 2001 was a real eye opener for him and he felt he owed his country.

As I write this I’m listening to your Friday night show, while preparing a grave marker for our little Toy Fox Terrier, Roxy. I got her for my wife Wendy in November of 1995 for her birthday. The little thing could be held in the palm of your hand when we got her. She has been totally devoted to Wendy during all the years since.

Three years ago we realized that Roxy was becoming blind, but it really didn’t slow her down much. She knew her environment as well as Rush knows every inch of his “glorious naked body”.

Over the last year, Roxy also lost her hearing but, there was no way that you could sneak by her. Her little nose could find you in a heartbeat. Wendy and I both knew that the remaining numbers of Roxy’s days on Earth were being counted.
During this past week Roxy has gone down rapidly, becoming very disoriented and unable to bend down to her food dish. We placed her dish on top of a phone book to allow her to reach it without bowing her neck or placing too much pressure on her unsteady front legs.

When I came home today, I put on my portable radio to listen to your show while I dug Roxy’s grave beneath two pecan trees in our backyard, a place where she liked to sit in the sun and monitor the back of the house, and occasionally crack a few pecans to eat which she LOVED to do.

Tomorrow, I will let Wendy say her tearful goodbyes to Leaping Spotted Roxy, which is her AKC registered name. Wendy has an appointment tomorrow evening and, when she leaves, I will say my own goodbyes while I hold Roxy in my lap and feed her from my hand. Then I will humanely end Roxy’s suffering.

Mark, I have a feeling that you have read some of Robert Heinlein’s books. In one of his finest works, “Time Enough for Love”, he has some interludes entitled “The Notebooks of Lazarus Long”. One of the platitudes therein says, “When the need arises – and it does – you must be able to shoot your own dog. Don’t farm it out – that doesn’t make it nicer, it makes it worse”. This little sentence has far reaching meanings in our lives, as it can be applied to so many things that we humans do. In a way, it can almost define our humanity. And don’t interpret in that statement that I’m saying because you, or anyone, has their vet or even a friend carry out the deed that you are”farming it out”. It is still YOUR decision and you have dealt with it appropriately.

There is one other thing that I want to offer to you, and it is about Sprite. I have had many beloved dogs during my lifetime and on several occasions they became sick or infirm from old age or injury. More than one of them has tried to escape their environs to be alone to die or, when they couldn’t, have retreated to a hidden place on the property and laid themselves down to pass. Mark, as I read “Rescuing Sprite” and learned of Sprite’s ailments when you adopted him and of that awful time for you when, near the end of his days, he slipped out of an open door and tried to disappear into the woods, I wondered if he might have been one of those extraordinary animals that knows when his end is near. Mark, he may have been trying to spare you the anguish of his passing and it might even explain why he separated himself from his previous owners. I truly feel that you gave Sprite a second life, even though it was relatively short from your perspective. Since we cannot possibly know what is in the mind of our pets, I guess I can safely say that you can’t exactly prove me wrong, correct?

Thank you again for the “Rescuing Sprite” book and also for what I consider your “teachings” on the radio and in “Men in Black”.
I am truly in your debt.

Neal from TX