My yellow Labrador retriever, Luke, ( Luke the Lab) was found, as was Mark’s Sprite, wondering around the city, very thin, lost. He was an English type Lab, with strong heavy bones, beautiful golden yellow coat, and gorgeous, soulful, pleading brown eyes.  We found each other at our local animal shelter. He was at least 3 they said, probably older. That was in 2006.

Luke, like so many wonderful dogs, was joyous, faithful, loyal, kind, fun loving, intelligent, full of love, and comforting to us all.  He had his own cat that he shared his dog bed with, and other dogs to be with, but he was very close to me.

All was wonderful until May 2013. One day he just couldn’t walk. I thought it was his hips. The vet said it was a collapsed disc in his neck, which prevented him from being able to look up or move his legs. They put him on prednisone. He suffered a terrible and rare reaction to it, which the vet said only some 1 % of dogs do. His fur and skin in huge patches, became loose and were falling off. It was so horrible to see! Despite the pain in the neck, which virtually immobilized him, he wagged his tail!

Despite the prednisone and its terrible side effects, Luke still could not walk much.  I began to fear the outcome.

My kids live in other states, and there was no one to help me make any decisions. I suffered and cried. I scheduled an appointment with the vet, and that day, he walked around, ate a whole plate of food, drank water, wagged his tail, and seemed to smile!

The vet said that the prednisone was the best drug, and if he couldn’t tolerate it, and it didn’t allow him to walk, that the prognosis was poor.

I looked into his eyes and he into mine. I saw pain and love.  I made the decision on June 4th, 2013, to “raise Luke up” to dog heaven. I am crying as I type. I feel so guilty, so empty, so sad.

My son in law gave me your book, “Rescuing Sprite” a couple of years ago. It was in a rack with other unread books, until  I picked it up on Saturday, June 22, 2013. Your words, your emotions, your descriptions of guilt and loss, your unembarrassed tears and obvious gut wrenching grief, and your hope that your book would help others, who are suffering as you did, with their loss, helped me more than anything else! Unlike you, I was alone with my precious Luke. The family could not be there, I had to bear it on my own. My guilt and pain seemed to be increasing, until I read your book in one sitting.

I truly believe animals have souls, or energy forces, critical masses, or whatever phrase or description is most applicable, and that we will be together again.

My Luke joins my wonderful Siamese cat, who died in my arms, and my childhood horse, Laddie, who was shot by a stray bullet, in the great Animal Kingdom.

Thank you Mark, for having the courage to share your feelings and grief. Something about animals, and especially dogs, is more like innocent babies.Their loss cuts like a scalpel.  Thank you for helping me start the healing process in a positive way.

— Diane from Maryville, TN