In a matter of just over a year, we have gone from a family with four dogs, to a family with just one. Needless to say, it has been a year of mourning. Our precious Tina, Terri and Buster, after living for 20, 17, and 16 years consecutively, passed away within just months of each other. Many of our friends who knew our pets from the time our children were born, would exclaim upon coming to our home years later and seeing them hobbling around, toothless and half-blind, but haughty and feisty, nonetheless.

The gift of having our dogs through all these years has been insurmountable – they have provided a bond within our family that was built upon raucous laughter at their antics, protection of them from hostile workers, and taking care of their medical needs as they became old and feeble. They kept the children company on many late homework nights, forgoing their own warm beds to sit at the children’s feet as they plowed through GSAT, IB and college assignments. When the children were ill, they would stay by their bedsides, growling at anyone who dared to step within an inch of their feverish moans.

Indeed, it was our darling dogs who instilled much of the empathy, caring and playfulness in our children. The dogs could simply sense when life became overwhelming, and with just a nudge and lick, they would make the journey just a little bit easier. Our eldest child, Briana, decided at the age of 2, from the first day that we brought Tina home, that she would become a vet, and her patience and intuition in taking care of her dog till the ripe age of 20 (140 in dog years!!!!!) has assured us that this is her God-given talent.

We will be forever grateful to our Tina, Terri and Buster for the gentleness and caring that they taught our children, and for the love they brought into our home. The pain we have felt at their passing is nothing compared to the joy that they gave us.

“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.”—Josh Billings (a.k.a. Henry Wheeler Shaw; humorist and lecturer)