John Travis-TuffIt was just a bit over four years ago that I shared my first “Rescue Tale,” a wonderfully touching story about a guardian angel and a vagabond collie… and of course a rescue angel, Johnny.  You can read how a stray beagle… or was it a beagle… brought Johnny to a collie desperately in need of love and attention… “Rescue Tales – Do Dogs Have Guardian Angels?” As that tale ends, it’s many years later and Tuff’s time is drawing close… so very close that it was just a few days later I shared his journey to the Bridge, “Rainbow Bridge’s Newest Angel,” so today a tribute from Johnny to his beloved Tuffy…

Four years ago today, I gave the vet the order to push the drug into your vein that ended your life and your suffering while I stroked your gentle head and whispered promises of a reunion.

You fought the good fight, little friend, but you just didn’t have enough in reserve to stay for another few months. It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made, but I had to do what was best for you.

TuffyWhen he administered the first go to sleep shot, you raised your head and locked your eyes on mine…trusting me, yet somehow understanding what would happen next. There was no animosity on your part for my betrayal. Only sadness that you had to go…and regret that you were so weak and unable to carry on your fight.

My little Thanksgiving Collie…you taught me so much about loyalty and devotion…and about how wrong the so-called expert evaluators could be when they told me that you were too fear-aggressive to ever be a member of the family…a trusted friend and companion. They almost blocked your path to a real life, but we prevailed and convinced them to give you a chance with us. I wish they could have seen you as you came out of your shell and your personality slowly but steadily sparkled. I wish they could have seen your eyes light up whenever you were by my side…and your tail wag when I returned from an errand after you searched the house for me non-stop…only relaxing when you saw me.

Never forgotten, little friend. Not as long as I have breath in my lungs. I look forward to finding you at the bridge. Be patient, little Tuff. I’ll be along directly.

Today, Johnny has 28 canine companions that he cares for, including a litter of puppies.  He’s been sharing their stories and pictures with me but those are for another day…

In our lives dogs come and go, they all live in our hearts and some take a bigger piece than others and leave a bigger piece of themselves, but they are all there and never forgotten…

“Dogs come into our lives to teach us about love…. they depart to teach us about loss. A new dog never replaces an old dog; it merely expands the heart. If you have loved many dogs, your heart is very big.” ~Erica Jong~

“It came to me that every time I lose a dog they take a piece of my heart with them, and every new dog who comes into my life gifts me with a piece of their heart.  If I live long enough, all the components of my heart will be dog, and I will become as generous and loving as they are.” ~ Anonymous~

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