Listener Stories


I became my dog’s fourth owner in a little over a year.  Mia, an English Bulldog, was born in Russia, imported into TN, sold to a family in NJ who decided she wasn’t “bully” enough for breeding purposes.  I looked at her and two younger pups, and Mia picked me.  I think she felt my grief over putting my home bred 13 year old English Bulldog Winston to sleep a few weeks earlier due to very old age.  Mia and I travel almost daily to a friend’s 300 acre farm where my horse is kept; she runs all over looking for groundhogs to chase no matter the season!  As I see her face turning white, I realize that both of us are getting on in  years.  She is a faithful companion, and even has a few rescued cats of her own!  I feel very blessed that she picked me when I needed picking up.  We’ve had a great eight year relationship that’s still going strong!

— Barbara from Florence, NJ


This year’s Thanksgiving started off in the usual manner but our Thanksgiving dinner was quickly disrupted when our dog, Prince, needed to be taken to the animal hospital with a breathing problem.  Although we had to put him to sleep the next morning, we realize how wonderful a Thanksgiving we actually had since this was the only Thanksgiving we ever had when we all agreed that the best thing that happened to us in this past year was when we rescued our six year old Prince from the animal shelter.

This past Spring, my daughter was taking a course in college titled “Ethical Treatment of Animals” and as part of an optional service learning component of the course, she was required to spend time helping out at our local Humane Society.  From time to time, she would come home and express her desire for us to adopt a dog. Neither my wife nor I had ever had a dog and it never crossed our minds to ever own one. I could not understand why people would spend their time and money on an animal. I would always be amused when I would see the neighbors walking in the neighborhood with a bag cleaning up after their dogs. My wife would swear that she would never allow a dog to dirty her house. Soon I would become that person walking the dog and my wife would become emotionally attached to our dog in a way that she or I would never have imagined. This little dog would forever change our lives and finally make us understand why people become attached to their pets.

Prince entered our home in April of this year. He was 5 years old and was an adorable slightly overweight Chihuahua. I know, I know, Chihuahuas don’t have the reputation as being the most cute or adorable of dog types. Prince was an exception. He had longer hair than most Chihuahuas and never barked at anyone. In fact, whenever he met someone new, he immediately approached the person and the greeting usually ended with the person eventually petting Prince in their lap or at least rubbing his belly. Prince had to be given up by his former owner since he was moving into an apartment where dogs were not allowed. He quickly adapted to his new home with us.

Whether it was taking a walk at night, putting on a Halloween costume and going out trick or treating, or sitting in front of the television together, he was becoming a member of our family. He would make us laugh when he would walk around the family room with his blanket covering him as if he were a ghost. And yes, Prince was going to be part of our Christmas card this year – my wife and I, our three girls, and Prince.  All of that changed this past week.

Unbeknownst to us, Prince had aspirated on his food and developed Pneumonia. The vet explained that this could have happened a few days before Thanksgiving and that Prince would not have shown any signs of anything wrong. But on Thanksgiving, while we were watching the Thanksgiving Day parade on television, we knew that something was wrong. Later in the day, my oldest two daughters called the animal hospital and quietly excused themselves from the dinner table to take Prince to the hospital. Little did we know it at the time, this was the last time that Prince would be home. I received a call during our Thanksgiving dessert with our company that I needed to come to the hospital. Prince may not make it. After agonizing with what to do (we did not have pet insurance and we were stunned as to the cost for even a three days stay in the hospital), we decided that Prince deserved a chance to live and agreed to his staying the night in a glass oxygen chamber at the hospital. However, Prince was not improving.

The news was not good the next morning. My older girls knew what needed to be done. They showed me their courage when they said that they wanted to be present when Prince was let go. They gave him one last hug and were present when he looked up to us and said his last goodbye. We knew it was time to say goodbye, but we could swear that he knew it too. We cried together. And that brought us closer together. Our little dog brought us closer together.

Naturally, we were all devastated. Seven months earlier, we never would have imagined that we would be in this situation and feeling these emotions. A day earlier, I had bought Prince’s Christmas stocking and I was about to decorate it with his name in glitter. I am not sure what I am going to do with it now. Would we consider rescuing another dog again? It is too early to say. We need to give ourselves a few months break. I don’t know when we will be able to go through a day and not think about Prince. I know it will take some time. I never understood why people become attached to their dogs. I do now. They become part of our lives and our routines. They love us unconditionally. They can make our sad day better just by wagging their tail in our direction. And when they are gone, it hits us like a ton of bricks that that love is gone too.

If there is one practical thing that I have learned in this experience, it is that a family with a dog should take out pet insurance.  You never know when it will be needed and it is a real shock to find out how expensive it is when medical help is needed. This one day in the pet hospital and the other expenses came to about $2,000. It hurt me deeply when my daughter turned to me when she found out the estimate of Prince’s cost and cried that we couldn’t afford it and that we would be forced to put him to sleep. We did decide to give it at least two days in the hospital.  However, Prince wasn’t going to recover even if he could have been in the vet’s care for a week. But, if that would have been the case, we would have been presented with a terrible decision to make. In the end, he spent one night in the pet hospital. Unfortunately, we will be paying the cost for his final expenses over the next few months. But, fortunately for us, we will be remembering all the good memories we had with Prince for a lifetime.

So, the next time I see a dog being walked down the street, I will stop and say hello to the dog and its owner. I will ask about the dog’s age or some other small talk, and ask if I can pet him.  I now know what that dog means to its owner. I now get it.

And, I will remember our Prince.

— John from Wyomissing, PA



Annie was rescued as a baby from a puppy mill in Kentucky.  When she was about 9 months old, the horrors began – she started breaking out in bleeding sores all over her body and running an extremely high fever.  We rushed her to the 24-hour emergency vet where they were basically perplexed.  They put her on antibiotics, sent her home and wished us the best.  She was not getting any better; in fact, her condition was worsening.  We checked her in at her regular vet where, God bless them, they put her through all kinds of tests, called all over the country to all kinds of specialists, and went way above and beyond what most would have done.  Finally, she was diagnosed with an auto-immune disorder so rate that it had only presented in a handful of humans, two cows, a pig and one dog – Annie.  And, of course, anti-biotics were the exact wrong thing to do.  But once she was diagnosed, they started treating correctly and, after almost 2 years of, and over $11,000 worth of treatments, she’s happy, healthy, and picked up exactly where she left off.  At 5 years old, she’s like a puppy all over again.  I’m thankful we are the ones who rescued her, because otherwise I’m certain she’d have been put down. She has brought us so much joy and laughter, I can’t imagine life without her.

— Robin from Arlington, VA



Schnell spent a short nine years with  us; he was our child, our friend and our guardian. There will always be a painful hole in our hearts he once occupied.

We adopted him at a mere 9 weeks old. He was everything we wanted in a dog, he was very big and very frightening to strangers. But those that knew  him, knew he was all heart.

One of his favorite things to do was to try to leave with the mailman. He would get in the truck and sit there smiling at us.

He hated bees because he stuck his snout in a bees nest once, came howling of the woods and rolled his face around on the cool long grass. From that day on, if he saw a bee, he would catch it and eat it.

He chased the lawn mower, one time he picked up the 42″ riding mower by grabbing the rear tire.  When he dropped it, it broke the rear axle.

During the late fall he developed a cold, he sniffled and we did our best to keep him warm, with plenty of water to drink. He played as normal and he was not forgotten on Thanksgiving  day. We went out to play, give him a piece of turkey breast and spend some time with him. He got up and staggered to the heated garage. Suddenly blood began gushing from his nose and mouth and he was gone. Just like that. Our friend, our buddy, was gone.

We had Schnell cremated and his ashes remain with us. Although every time we look at  him, it makes our heart ache, we are unable to part with him. He will ultimately be combined with us and be forever together.

— Jeanette from Hornell, NY



Yesterday we had to put Shorty down.  He was our 16 year old black lab.  He was the best dog I ever had.

We adopted Shorty from a shelter 10 years ago and he was so grateful to have a home that he just plain never did anything bad.

I miss him terribly as does my husband.  We really cannot even talk about it and haven’t told friends or neighbors, it is just too painful.

I believe I will see Shorty again in the afterlife.

I just wanted to share an unremarkable story about a very remarkable dog.

— Connie from Mesquite, NV


I miss my big boy.  Augustus “Gus, Gussie Bear, or My Little Panda” as he was called with affection.  He was truly my “pride and joy.”  I saw God’s majestic artwork in this creature’s awesome beauty, and it was a pleasure to walk with him for the world to see.  People would tell me what a beautiful dog he was, and I would force myself to respond with a simple “Thank you,” instead of a boastful “I know!”

Gus thought life was one big rodeo!  He literally galloped like a pony and bucked around the yard like a bronco.  We have two miniature dachshunds, and Gussie Bear thought he was one, too!  He didn’t know to be careful, so he would race right into, over, or around us. “Big Boy” loved to go on walks and play ball in an open field, or accompany me to the mailbox just to follow my commands.

Gus must have known he was handsome because he loved to be groomed!  I will forever be marked by his presence as a result of him breaking my ankle when I bathed him in our front yard.   He felt so good that he threw himself on the grass and dove right into me on the way down.  That was the year we decided it was well worth it to take him to the groomer!

It was most difficult to brush him or trim his nails, as he would lick my hands throughout the process.  I think it was his way of saying, “Thank you for taking care of me,” or “I love you, Momma!”   When it was time to relax, he considered himself a lap dog and simply wanted to Velcro himself to me.  I loved nothing more than curling around him in his bed and telling him that I loved my precious “Panda Bear.”

I believe Gus was sent to join our family with a special mission assigned to be my four-pawed Guardian Angel.  He was an instrument for me to physically feel the unconditional love and teachings of our Father in Heaven, and a literal being to walk beside me when I needed to talk.  He was a reminder of God‘s protection, and I can depend upon Him.  Gus taught me about acceptance, love, and patience.  Maybe this is why I am not ready to let him go.  I just do not want to give him back.  I think I still need him, but God has something else in mind.  Now I find myself curled around two small doxies in the bed that still belongs to Gus.

Gus was there when I wasn’t ready for him.  He loved me anyway and waited patiently for me to come around.  He chose me from the beginning and said, “You are mine.”  His eyes never departed from me, and he never left my side.  The day I set my selfish ways aside and decided I was ready to let him into my heart; it was as if he said, “Finally!  I have been waiting for you!”  Funny, but I can hear God saying that to me now. ..

— Melissa from San Angelo, TX