“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.”—Roger A. Caras
There is nothing more painful than losing a member of your family. When it is your innocent and vulnerable four-legged fur child who has given you his unconditional love for his whole life, the pain is searing.
After my husband and I lost our beautiful Jack to cancer, we were absolutely lost. He was our shining star; the one who made us laugh every day. He was a gentleman beyond description who truly, like the quote says, made our lives whole. Jack was a Golden Retriever and Labrador Retriever mix we rescued from the Animal Rescue League in Brewster in 2002. After a long grieving period, to comfort myself, I bravely clicked on the Retriever rescue site to see dogs that reminded me of Jack and needed a home. My husband couldn’t bear to even contemplate getting another dog. The pain was too great. Clicking on a site I was not familiar with, NEARR (North East All Retriever Rescue, a Retriever rescue organization in New England), I was stunned to see a dog named Hank, who looked remarkably like Jack. I became obsessed with Hank. I couldn’t stop thinking about him. I called to inquire about adopting Hank. Before I knew it, I was filling out an online questionnaire to get one step closer.
Hank was an eight-year-old yellow lab who was at a vet’s office ready to be euthanized. When the NEARR organization found this out, they immediately stepped in to pay for his surgery and save his life. Following surgery and recovery, Hank then spent three months with a nurturing foster family who nursed him back to health and got him ready for adoption.
Just when everything seemed in place to start the adoption process, we were informed there were two other families interested in Hank. I was devastated! I felt I had a connection to Hank I couldn’t explain. It went beyond his physical characteristics resembling my dear Jack. Having always had rescue dogs, I decided to be a bigger person and tell NEARR that due to the other people trying to adopt him, I would let Hank go and continue my search for another dog that had no candidates for adoption. But I was emotionally beat up and decided to put off my search for a new dog.
Two weeks later, I received a call from NEARR. They informed me that the other two families had changed their minds. If I was still interested, Hank was mine, pending other inspections. The saying, “If you set it free and it comes back to you, it’s meant to be,” suddenly had tremendous meaning.
Ironically, everything came to fruition on my fiftieth birthday. I was two hours away from having a birthday bash at my home when NEARR called and said that someone would come and inspect our home for the last phase of the adoption process in twenty minutes. After a successful inspection, the representative was getting ready to leave when my best friend’s dad marched down my driveway, in full Scottish regalia, playing Happy Birthday on his bagpipes! It was a wonderful finale in the process to adopt Hank.
On November eleventh, my husband Rooney and I drove to retrieve our beautiful Hank. From the moment he jumped into the car, Hank wholeheartedly trusted us.
At that moment, all was right with the world!
Hank just celebrated his tenth birthday. He is the perfect dog: affectionate, funny, sociable, and loyal. This rescue dog saved our family.
We are so grateful for the heroic efforts of NEARR to save our perfect boy!
You can find other photos of Jack and Hank in DOGS ON CAPE COD.