Hi Mark, I just finished your book and it was very touching.  I have 3 dogs of my own now (beagles!…they are so sweet) and am currently fostering another dog. They are so wonderful and each fulfills my life in different ways.

The only dog I\’ve had to put to sleep in my adulthood was my first beagle, Skyler.  I\’d had her since she was only 8 weeks old and she lived to almost 15 years. As she got up in years, I tried to prepare myself for the inevitable, but in my mind, I always hoped she would pass quietly in her sleep. I just couldn\’t imagine putting her down when she could still wag her tail at me. Well, it was as if Skyler knew what I needed.

I had decided to take a short 2 day trip to see my brother in Kansas City. Skyler and Max (my adopted beagle who I still have) had automatic feeders, a doggie door and a great neighbor who would check on them. They gave me happy tail wags and kisses when I left. Upon my return, Skyler did not greet me at the door. I found her laying in the living room…her eyes open, she was breathing, but completely nonresponsive. I rushed her to the vet where they took x-rays and found a large mass in her abdomen. My vet told me we could operate and see what we\’re dealing with, but with her age and the suspicion it was more than likely a tumor, we probably wouldn\’t be giving her much quality of life. Skyler could not wag her tail at me…she didn’t even know I was there…it made my decision easier.

Like you Mark, I questioned everything that happened prior to my departure to Kansas City. I felt guilty for going. Had there been signs I’d missed? She was really aging and skipped a few meals here and there, but so did my other dog. Was she panting when I left? Did she perhaps have a fever, but I was too busy running around for my trip to take a good look? All these things would haunt me…and they sometimes still do. But I’ve chosen to believe that Skyler put on a happy face and waited for me to leave…she knew what I needed…and what she needed.

I also had Skyler cremated and the company who did it gave me her cedar box with a candle and a poem about the Rainbow Bridge. If you are not aware of the Rainbow Bridge, here is a great link to the poem online set to music and pictures. It’s quite heart wrenching and I cry every time I watch it, but it’s also very comforting.

Here’s to all pets and the joy they bring us. Long live my Skyler.

Paula from TX