Dear Mark:

My wife Nancy and I are listeners to your radio show via WBAP, Arlington/Dallas, Texas. We became especially attached when you brought Sprite to your radio audience, and more especially as Spritey’s issues with life became apparent to us. Then, with the passing of Sprite and the more revealing saga of his life via your book, Rescuing Sprite, the Smiths became much closer to the Levins.

Last year (2007) before Christmas, I bought 4 copies of Rescuing Sprite as Christmas gifts for each of our 3 children, all grown and gone, and one for us. Spritey’s story became especially significant, as it had become apparent our beloved Idgy, a kinda-sorta blond Lab+, was heading toward the final days of her life. I’m rereading parts of your book, as it relates to our saga. We also listened the other night as a caller told of his Golden/Shepherd mix, which is on the same path our Idgy took this past Fall and recent weeks.

On Monday, January 12th 2009, I had the agonizing task of making that ultimate decision for our beloved Idgy, The tears are flowing, hence the reason I could never attempt this message on your radio show. I’m an emotional mess!!! There are so many parallels between Idgy and Sprite, even their looks. The big difference is we had 13+ years with our Idgy, albeit she lived to 15+ years old. She too was a “walk-on.”

She and another dog wandered into the yard of close friends in Glendale, AZ, where we lived. Our friends took them in, as they were obviously lost, loose, strays, without collars and not seeming to know where they were or were going. Our friends kept them, along with their dog and placed ads in the local papers and called the local vets to return the dogs to their “parents.” All to no avail. Because they already had a dog, they decided to take them to the pound. Two days later, June, the wife, could stand it no longer and returned to the pound to retrieve the two. Only one, Idgy, was still there. June brought her back home. However, since they were preparing to make a major move to Atlanta, GA, they were limited to one dog. Enter the Smiths.

Idgy became a Smith. The name Idgy came from the movie, Fried Green Tomatoes. For 13+ years she was our faithful companion. Our home in Glendale was a typical city lot with a block fenced yard in back, a whole 40’ x 80’ grassed/treed area for Idgy to “roam.”

In 2001, after retiring from Arizona Public Service we moved to Texas to be closer to our single Mom daughter and business interests I had in Arlington, TX…

Thus, in August 2002, Idgy commenced her real life, when she moved onto a 3 acre “yard” with her own barn and real live horses as friends next door. She fell in love with this place. The property is completely fenced with a post and plank wooden fence, with about 1+ acre fenced off as a pasture, which I opened to our neighbor’s 3 horses.

The first week we were on the property, I perimeter walked Idgy on a leash completely around the inside of the fence line 3 times, each time stopping at the driveway open gate and defined for her an imaginary fence line across the drive, beyond which for her was a no-no. In the 6+ years we have been here, she only left the fenced area a couple times in her later life, when she “forgot” and exited through the “gateway” to visit with passing walkers with their dogs. The only time she was tied was when we left the property, i.e., no human home.

Her self-assumed job was to remain outside, until near the end, and monitor all traffic, foot, horse-back, bike riders (we’re on a favorite bike, hike & motorcycle route) and follow along inside the fence line, barking to let them know “the rules.”

Whenever I exited the house and the horses next door were in her sight, she commenced to bark the horses over to the fence on their side, for me to give them AND HER raw carrot treats. I went through 10 – 15 pounds of carrots every couple weeks. Idgy ate her carrot share right along with the horses.

There’s a lot more to our relationship, just as the closeness you developed with Spritey. There I am, crying again. The real closeness between Idgy and me began to develop in April 2005, when my wife fell ill to an auto-immune attack, which resulted in renal failure, anemia and 3 or 4 small strokes over the next two years, each of which hospitalized her for weeks and left its cerebral mark. During those times Idgy and I spent countless hours together talking, walking and carousing about the yard, the garden and around the pool, into which she would not enter, but would drink from and swat at any skinny-dipping frogs. We became extremely close, such that wherever I went about the house or yard, she’d be sure to follow, or at least check my where-abouts. This continued as our life style, even after Nance returned home. When I was in my “office” at the computer, she’d meander in every 1 hour or so, check me out with a nuzzle to my leg, or elbow, just to say Hi and look for a scratch or rub on the head. Like Spritey, she loved her chest scratched and up under her chin.

This past summer she began to show her age and the intense Texas heat was not kind to her, even though she hated to come in the house during the day. Slowly her rear quarters weakened and she slowly slid down-hill during the Fall and early Winter. In early December she began to show signs of discomfort, which increased in frequency. Like the gentleman caller said, re. his dog, Idgy wanted to go out in the cold and stay, as if to say I’m ready. She was, but I wasn’t. The last weekend, she went down quickly, fell a few times, unable to get up, you know the rest…

Dear God it’s hard to let go. I still haven’t, not totally. I don’t think I/we ever will. Nancy, even with her memory virtually shot, has taken it very hard. She became almost obsessed with Idgy’s well being, as her health slipped.

Like you, we had Idgy cremated immediately and on Wednesday, January 14th Nance and I spread her ashes all about our property, where she belongs, eternally.

Our veterinarian, of course knew of our devotion to Idgy. As a result, the animal crematorium, All Pets Go to Heaven, returned her ashes along with a very nice personal letter, a pet candle and the beautiful thought, The Rainbow Bridge. The latter is available on Google. We thought you might like that, if you have not seen it before.

For the Love of Pets and Freedom,
We Remain, Your Devoted Audience,

Remember, please remain healthy,
Ed and Nancy from TX