Today I had the sad duty of putting my faithful hound mix “Rip” to sleep. He was about 15 years old and suffering from the end stages of heart disease. We first met while I was hiking in NY’s Catskill mountains where he was apparently abandoned and left to starve in March of 1998. He followed me on the trail and I gave him some food. He followed me back to my truck at the end of the hike and when I tried to get in he was laying across my feet to prevent me from leaving him. I made the decision to keep him and brought him home. When I took him to the vet for treatment and shots the vet told me that he would probably turn out to be the best dog I ever had, and he was right. Since that day “Rip” has hiked many thousand of miles with me. We have visited some 35 states together. We were inseparable. Our lives revolved around each other and I have to tell you that finding him turned out to be a great blessing. I look forward to meeting him again at the Rainbow Bridge where we can continue our journey together.

— Doug from Port Charlotte, FL