Back in November, TAILS founder Janice Brown wrote a letter to her dog Luna. (You can read that letter here.) The outpouring of positive responses from readers was heartwarming, and we all were touched by just how special a simple letter can be.
That is why we joined forces with the people behind A Letter to My Dog to offer our readers a chance to share their own heartfelt words. We received many entries, and over the next few weeks we will be featuring our favorites. If you feel inspired, share your own letter to your pet in the comments.
(Note: Letters have been lightly edited for spelling and grammar).
I never imagined how you would change my life, how you would inspire me to continue my pet rescue efforts, and how you would quickly become an extremely gentle and joyous Poster Pup for all of the misunderstood and feared Pit Bulls everywhere. And I will never be able to re-pay my debt of gratitude to you.
I will never forget that telephone call out of the blue from that long distance truck driver many miles away: “Someone told me that you rescue dogs, and there’s a dog lying on the side of the busy Interstate out here that sure needs some rescuing. He’s a real skinny brown and white Pit; he’s been hit by a car; he’s been out here in the 90 degree heat for at least a week now; and I can’t get anyone to come out here to help him. Will you?”
And without even thinking about how my actions that day would soon change my life, I soon found myself walking along that busy interstate highway in the horrific heat and humidity attempting to locate you. But you were nowhere to be seen in the area where the truck driver had assured me you would be.
In total frustration, I finally began whistling and yelling: “Where the heck are you, dog?” and soon to my disbelief and delight, your big white head poked out of some tall saw grass on the shoulder of the road, as if you were trying to say: ”I’m right here.”
And soon, I was sitting there in that tall grass with you, softly stroking your head, sadly staring at your mangled swollen back leg, and watching you eagerly lap up gobs of cool fresh water in that brutal summer heat. You didn’t even flinch one muscle when I gently placed my loop leash around your neck, and you very meekly let me lead you back to my truck, hobbling on three legs all the way. And when we reached it, you very happily let me pick you up and place you inside on the seat.
Off we went together to the animal hospital—me driving, and you soon fast asleep and snoring very loudly in the back seat. When we got there, I remember how you did not want to get out of my truck. I think you were really enjoying the air-conditioned comfort of that back seat after being out in that god-awful heat for so long.
You spent the next 10 days in the animal hospital undergoing extensive leg surgery, neutering, needed vaccinations, and de-lousing. I’ll never forget how your emaciated brown and white body had also been covered from head to tail with ticks and fleas when I found you. Yet, you had never complained to me about any part of your horrific ordeal.
I was eventually informed that you did groan and growl whenever any of the animal hospital staff attempted to change the splint and/or the bandage on your broken leg. When I soon went there to visit you, they very politely asked me to take you away as soon as I possibly could. And by this time, none of the rescue groups wanted to accept you either: “Highway growls and snaps at his caregivers when they try to touch his leg, so in good conscience we cannot ask anyone to foster him during his lengthy eight to ten week leg rehabilitation process.”
On my way to fetch you at the animal hospital that day, I soon chuckled to myself, suddenly wondering if this was all just a Big Con by you to force me to bring you back to my house. And I’ve now decided that it truly was. You have been living in our home now for several months, and you have never groaned, or growled, or snapped at me, at my spouse, or at any of our other rescued pets—not even once. And I can touch you anywhere that I want to because you have given me your unconditional trust and love.
You truly are one lovable old Canine Con Artist, and truly one very appreciative rescued street orphan. And I could never give you up now. But I think you already know that—I can see that big old Pit Bull smile of yours way across the room as I’m penning this.
And I just remembered something else—you had that very same smile on your face that first time when I spotted you on the side of that Interstate and you poked that big white head of yours up out of that tall grass and looked me right in the eye as if to say: “I’ve been waiting here an awfully long time, pal—so hurry up, get me over to your truck, and take me home!”
Submitted by Brittany House
As the old saying goes, we were meant to be together. You were the runt of the litter, a scrawny little pug; and no bigger than my hand. The lady caring for you before me said that you almost didn’t make it at birth. You came into this world not breathing at all, but you gathered up all your strength, you took your first breath, and that was the start of something wonderful. When I met you I knew instantly we were a perfect pair.
You barely made a peep during the car ride to your new home. You just sat on my lap staring into my eyes, with the occasional lick on my chin. This calm and collected composure didn’t last long—you soon turned into a happy, healthy, bouncing, silly, and loving young boy. Most of all, you became my best friend.
You endlessly show your love. In fact, that’s one of your best characteristics. You love nearly everyone you meet. It’s a quality that I try to reflect into my own life as well. You also love the finer things in life. It never fails to widen your eyes with excitement just saying the word “hungry?” You also are perfectly content just simply snuggling in a warm lap; you are snoring and curled up in my lap as I write this letter. I love your predictability.
I won’t lie, I was more than nervous when bringing home your new adopted sister. Fearing that since you had been accustomed to being the only one showered with my attention you would be a bit jealous. However, you accepted her warmly and now the two of you are best friends. Just as long as you have first dibs on my lap!
Bigsby, you mean more to me than your perfect Puggy brain can fathom. I look forward to sharing many more years with you and your sister. Thank you for always being there and always being such a good boy.
Your Human Mother
Submitted by Barbara Quigley
You are the tiny, black cat that I rescued from the street. However, It became apparent over time that it was you who rescued me. I want to thank you sincerely for all the valuable life lessons that you have taught me.
You have taught me how to love by teaching me what love is. I learned that love transcends the superficial and produces the most intense emotions, both joyful and sad. It is willingness to evolve from initial attraction to caretaker, provider, and protector. We shared many happy times, but the real test always came when times were difficult. Those times meant worrying, medicating, cleaning-up after, and many late nights. It meant struggling to pay medical bills, and many frantic trips to the vet, yet readily wanting to do so.
I never once thought of giving up or abandoning hope. I was happy to do what it took to take care of you. I never felt deprived, and I would gladly make every sacrifice again—even more if necessary. My only reward was your health and happiness. Because of you, I now have a deeper understanding of the meaning of love.
You taught me humaneness. I have always cared about kindness to animals; now, I do so even more. Caring for you has deepened my sensitivities. Cruelty and indifference anger me and rally me to action more readily than before. I speak up against animal abuse more. I volunteer more for rescues. I have become a vegetarian. I donate more money to help animals in need. I care more.
You taught me selflessness. I learned to consider your needs and, through you, began to understand the needs of all those without power or voice. Caring about you meant willingly adjusting to your needs. Realizing the vulnerability of the weak inspired me to do what I could to help them.
You taught me to appreciate nature and naturalness. You cleverly walked on a leash, and together we found patches of nature to explore in our neighborhood. Through your eyes, I became more aware of nature’s gifts: colorful butterflies, swaying grasses dotted with wildflowers, the soothing ripple of the nearby river, the sound of wind. I never noticed these natural gifts until my walks with you. By truly seeing nature, I became more determined to help preserve it.
You taught me peacefulness. I was able to put aside many needless things in my life through the simple pleasure of just being with you. Sitting quietly with you enabled me to silence the chaos and reflect on what is, and is not, important. You have calmed me.
You taught me much more. By example, your stillness has taught me patience. You have taught me how to live in the moment and how to enjoy the simple things in life, as they truly are the best. I learned that true happiness comes from just being with someone I care about, and I learned to measure success by how well I can provide for a fellow being. Because of you, I am able to experience awareness and understanding that would have otherwise eluded me. Because of you, my outlook on life has changed for the better in so many ways. I try daily to implement the ideas and ideals you instilled.
You imparted this knowledge over the twenty years we spent together. You were a tireless teacher to a slow learner. Thank you. I know I am a better person for having spent those years with you.
I miss you every day since your passing. While you were here with me, I hope I was able to convey my love and appreciation for all that you have given me. I carry on now without you, but the lessons you taught remain and give me strength. I carry them with me, as I carry you with me—always.
Submitted by Donna Ruby
Happy Anniversary. 1 year ago today I brought you home from Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. I knew you were my soul-pet when I first met you. You looked up at me with those dark soulful eyes and that was it…I was in love.
I want to honor you today by sharing with you the gifts you bring into my life. Your playfulness brings out my childlike spirit and is very entertaining, especially when you create your own obstacle course in my apartment. Everyone who meets you is as enamored by your cuteness and intelligence as I am.
You are a great traveling and hiking companion! Remember our trip to Sedona? You handled that long flight with finesse and the hikes we took…what a trooper you are! You are definitely keeping me in shape.
The joy you bring to me and others is such a gift. You are pure love! Our first year together has had some challenges with vet visits, but you handle everything with grace and resilience. Your ability to make friends (human and dog) so easily is beautiful. I am sure Honey, Rocky, Kaya, Sadie, Buster, Romeo, and others will attest to you being a great friend and playmate. I am so grateful for you in my life.
I look forward to a long life together with many more fun-filled experiences. Thanks for being you, Zen Bodhi Ruby!
Love, Your faithful Mom,
Submitted by Levity Tomkinson
I don’t even know exactly where to begin except to tell you that you have literally changed my life. You have helped chart my course, navigate dark nights; you plucked stars from the sky and brought them into my hands. Simply put, you are the most incredible being in my life.
When I went to the shelter with the intention of becoming a mom back in January 2009, I couldn’t help but be attracted to this little chocolate brown furball curled up against the wire of a kennel. “May I see this one?” I asked, and as you turned, I saw everything wasn’t quite right.
Once you were taken out of the kennel, now standing in front of me, I couldn’t believe what was before my eyes. A little baby, with a stomach swollen so badly from worms it looked as if you had swallowed a cantaloupe. Carefully, I carried you outside and placed you down on the concrete, and another piece of my heart broke. Your now famously curly-cued tail was tucked so far under it reached up to your tummy, and your butt almost dragged on the ground because your back legs were so severely crouched. “His legs’ll straighten out after about a year. Can be from living on dirt,” a volunteer at the shelter told me.
I scooped you up, talking to you, taking you back inside to the play room; just you and I, walking around the room to see what you’d do, and just like today, you never let me out of your sight. You followed me in lines, circles, and zigzags, and ambled to get in my lap when I sat down.
You claimed me as forever yours when I came to a stop in the corner of that room. You sat down right in front of me, and nestled your head between the crooks of my ankles. “Home,” you told me.
Adoption papers were signed, and a few days later I was able to pick you up from a local veterinarian’s office. As I was carrying you to the car in my arms—nervous, excited, but enamored with this new little man in my life—I began to literally feel the warmth of our new love radiating all over the front of me. Well…you had peed on my sweatshirt. Not even a minute into our mommy and son journey, only further claiming me as your own.
Every day since then has been a day where I could not be more fortunate to be your mom. You have opened my eyes and my heart to Pit Bulls—to their loyalty, their absolute goofiness, their affection, their kisses and hugs, their intelligence and eagerness to please. To the lasting love they leave with their owners and how contagious their spirits are.
You are the reason I began painting portraits of dogs. When I painted Chopper, the Pittie with cancer, giving the family something beautiful, positive, and happy to always have of him, you were in that painting.
When I painted Snookie Cookie for a husband who lost his wife and the painting was a surprise from their daughter, you were giving them a piece of their mom and wife back.
When I did a painting of Buddy, spread out over two canvases, for a 10 year old boy from his older sister, your smile was sandwiched right between those two paintings. You are giving the gift of love, of happiness, of hope, of smiles, of life.
Because you are the reason I started painting dogs, you are also ultimately the reason I began The Re51lient Project, painting the 51 dogs rescued from Michael Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels. Every person that sees the paintings, or is touched by the stories on the blog, whether the dog’s or mine, it is because of you. It is ALL because of you. I’ve always felt it’s been my calling to help others, and maybe I whispered that in your ear one day, or maybe your heart just knew, but because of this project, I am fulfilling that dream. I am helping others. YOU, my sweet boy, are helping others, and that is beyond beautiful.
As you curl up next to me on the couch, eyes fluttering softly telling me you’re asleep, you don’t even know what a difference you have already made in this world. I tell you everything I’m doing is because of you, but you remain unfazed, and your love for me hasn’t changed. You still give me hugs and kisses whenever I ask (and even when I don’t), you still curl up on the pillow next to me at night, you still greet me at the door with your head on the floor and your butt in the air screaming, “SCRATCH ME!” Yes, you still even surprise me with heinous flatulence every now and again.
You are the embodiment of love, love, love, and I thank you from my head to my toes, from my heart to my soul, for being my best friend, my heart, and for making my time on this earth the happiest it could ever be. I love you with my everything, Rinlee.
Known to humans as Levity E. Tomkinson
Check back next week for more Letter to Pets!