EVERY DOG IS TOPS. kind of a story by F. Wes Breitenbach

The following is was not intended to be a written work but a journal entry. It may have spelling or grammatical errors because it is raw. It may ramble on and be a bit long winded, but it is truth.
It took place during the last five days that I spent with our dog. I wanted to remember what that time was like. How we saw the beauty in the end of a life. How some love and compassion can make the end of life a valued part of the living experience.  
I haven’t read this in over 2 years. I thought with the current Top Dog competition, the recent loss of friends and the kids that just lost their home to fire, I would reach down and pull out some real life. Because when we are not on the water busting sweet moves or showing off our hot DBQ’s, real life is going on. One of you guys is sick today, someone will lose a parent next week, tomorrow you might find twenty bucks! The point is, life is happening all the time. You can’t avoid it and you can’t get out alive. So embrace it and each other.
 
Countdown.
day 5
As our girl got older I would defer to my wife when the dog would need to go potty in the middle of the night. I have a hard time falling back to sleep. Henna would come up and cry the most barely audible whine, and then she would bounce her head ever so softly on the side of the bed. I would ignore her or say to Jes, “your dog needs to go out”. She would then get up at who knows what time, 2, 5, 1:30? But this evening as we settled into bed I told my wife, “ wake me up if Henna needs to go out, I will take care of it”…..
She had almost stopped eating, was not so active, and now peeing a lot.  We learned today, as we went to find out why she was not feeling so well, Diabetes and kidney failure was the cards she was dealt, and the table won’t be open for long. Double down. The vet recommended to us that sooner might be better to keep her from suffering or succumbing to the pain that she was not yet in but would soon follow.
She still gives a glowing look to the phrase “wanna go for a ride?” or “wanna go for a walk?” She leaps up from her bed and has the glint of the youthful girl she was not so long ago. This is the only joy left in her old bones so I promised her that the next few days we would have no more rules! Anything that she wants to eat we will give her till she wants no more. So far today it has been a can of tuna. Whenever we make something or think she might like something it is offered to her. To no avail, feeding has brought little success. However a ride in the car is, for both of us, a soothing way of passing some time. So ride we will!
When our son returned from school we sat down to fill him in on the news. As a parent I must say that the stabbing ache of watching the very moment of your child’s heart break is nothing more than devastating. To know that this is a life lesson he must experience. To feel the full range of emotions and how to deal with them can only be taught first hand. It is interesting how we don’t think about allowing ourselves to feel happy but we have to allow ourselves to grieve.  To let go and grieve. So with our arms around our boy and our dog we wept. We had discussed with him many weeks ago, when we first noticed her sudden decline in health, that we would keep him in the info loop and he would be included in on any decisions that needed to be made. We wanted him to know that his input and feelings are valid and important to us. We decided together that letting her suffer was not an option. We had no idea how long she could keep going but that we would not let our little brown girl hurt.  We took into consideration our week and decided that Friday would be the best time for Drew to take off school and have her put to sleep.  It was a long hard battle for us all to finely fall asleep.
So as I promised, I have gotten up twice tonight, or should I say morning, to let her out. She no longer comes to the bed side to gently wake us from our slumber, but has gone to just wandering about the room till one of us hears her pacing. It is now what wakes us in the dark. The sound of her feet on the wood floor that is the call to let her out.  

day 4
This morning has been full of tears. She is no longer eating much at all, the natural signs of the body shutting down. Boiled chicken, tuna, cheese crackers….nothing.  
Today I begin to prepare a place in the yard for her. Over by the pond along the tree line. As I begin to dig I realize a few things. This sucks. I begin to cry, then weep, then flat out sobbing. When I get myself back together I proceed with digging. The first 12 inches is root laced and tough. Then the clay begins. Suddenly the clay and roots give way to a easy soft gravely mix of what appears to be coal, chunks of asphalt and volcanic rock. I reach some concrete about 24 inches down and debate weather this place will work. Just my luck that I pick the only spot in the yard with concrete. This is not going to be a small hole for a pet bird or gerble, both of which I have buried, it is for a 83.5 pound dog and the coffin I am building to lay her in. The thought of her in the ground with nothing is just not appealing to me. So do as I must, my hole needs to accommodate all of this. So I clear out the bottom to discover an old drainage pipe of some kind that is many decades out of service. I am able to remove a few sections and proceed.  While I dig I go through a range of emotions shifting from sorrow to anger to laughter. All of which would look to an outsider as a solid recommendation for a straight jacket. I determined that the only way to dig a hole of this size by hand can only be done one shovel full at a time. After that realization digging became a Zen like mantra. To move the earth aside and go farther into it. It took the better part of the day to get it where I needed it to be.
Part way through digging Drew called in need of food for after school. He had a marching band exhibition later that evening and had forgotten to pack dinner. I loaded up a container and headed out the door. Well, almost. As I walked through the house Henna looked up at me with the same foggy look she has been carrying the past few days. I paused and said in my best excited puppy talk “wanna go?” she leapt to her feet and headed to the door. My joy at seeing her smile was so overwhelming that I got within a block of school before I noticed that I had forgotten the boys’ food!  I know she didn’t mind the extra time in the car, neither did i.
When we returned I had to get back to digging. Henna looked so happy in the car that I left the door open and told her she could stay in there as long as she would like. She stayed in there till Jes came home, more than two hours later.
As I was getting to the last part of the hole, Jesica walked from around the side of the house. She looked over to see me past my waist in the earth. She gave me a loving look that clearly said “thank you” and at the same time “I am not coming over there.” I pulled myself out of the ground and headed into the house.
We had to put on our nothing is wrong face and go watch our boy perform. It was several hours of not crying about the dog, watching Drew at his best. Enjoying his friends and putting on a kick ass show with the band.
We didn’t stay long after they were done. We got home and tried to feed her, again with no luck. Since Drew would be home late we decided to see if we could get those little dog eyes to once again light up and asked her if she would want to go on a walk. With no hesitation she bounced up and went to the door. It’s a gift to have her these few last days, and to be able to still see her smile. We went on the regular route till I noticed her looking worn. I began to tear up at the thought that we would no longer be able to do the full walk again. The last time we did the full walk was a few weeks ago. The four of us not knowing it would be the last. Over the past few weeks we had noticed her weakness and had trimmed the walk down to a shorter round the block walk. Tonight we would not get it either. We turned around; letting her stop a smell anything she wanted for however long she wanted. This was not normal for how we generally went about a dog walk. Previously we had the goal for her of exercising and pooping; now it was just quality time. Time to let her set the pace, time to let her be the boss. We had come to a cross street that we usually took but this time we thought we would cut that part out too do to her slowness but she made the turn so we followed. Into the cool brisk evening air that comes with the beginning of autumn. We finished the walk with tears in our eyes, so hard to keep them dry lately.
Upon arrival to the house I talked to Jes about arranging our room so we could put the mattress on the floor so Henna would have the option of sleeping with us. To this plan she whole heartedly agreed. And so we placed a blanket on the foot of the bed and there she was happy to lay.
 

day 3
It must have been the right call because I awoke not to her or Jes telling me to let her out, but to the alarm clock rousting me into the new day. She slept in the same spot all night. A comforting feeling for Jes and I both. We went about our regular routine, only instead of Drew driving to school I took him as he was low on gas. That was fine for Henna and I because it meant more time riding in the car. Jes requested that I stop off at the store to pick up some wet dog food to see if she would eat. As I said before, no rules this week!
I found myself falling apart in the dog food isle. Which one to pick? None of them would save our sweet dogs life, but could I pick the right one? The one that she would gobble up. Or would I pick the one she would sniff and pass up? I wanted to buy the whole isle and spend the rest of the day opening cans till I found the one she couldn’t resist. Then I realized if I didn’t get out of there soon it might get awkward.  “A man blubbering on isle five!” I reached into the unknown abyss of cans, grabbed one and headed to the robot checkout. Tears welling to the point I could only see blurry shapes. I made my way to the car where Henna was loyally waiting. She gave me a lick on the arm and a wag as I placed the can on the back seat hoping she would start salivating over the prospect of another exotic food. She licked it a little bit and ate a few pieces but not what I had hoped.
I asked Jes to let me give her a ride to work. Any reason to utter those five little words to her. Henna perked up and down the road we went. We took the long way home and after a short walk in the wooded area behind the house we came in. Now she has settled into her bed and I have a box to finish among other work projects. No rules are just for her.    
Henna and I went to pick up Jes at work and we went in to visit. It was good for us to see the love others have for our girl. Drew was next on our pick up list and now with all of us back at home the crying could begin again.
Cindy Lou stopped by at my request to take a few family photos. It’s funny how there are so few pictures of all of us together. One of us is usually behind the camera, often me. We ended up with some very sweet images. Then like everything we have done so far this week it ended with all of us, Cindy Lou too, crying. You would think that by this point we would have gained some control over this emotion. Instead it has the control over us.
Later Drew helped me with a delivery and it was a good ride. We spent the whole hour round trip talking about everything and anything but Henna. The first time this week that we had talked this much and did not finish with a big cry. This boy I have is slowly turning into a man right before my eyes. With that thought I did start to feel a tears begin to well up in my eyes. Tears not of sadness for the loss of our dog but tears of pride and love for a son that is evolving into a beautiful person.
Henna got to go for a lot of car rides to day and with the walk around the yard I didn’t want to push the old girl too much so we spent the evening next to her just loving.
I heard sound of weeping coming from the shower. It was Jes. I got in there as soon as I could only to find her balled up in the tub allowing herself to grieve. I held her close and tried to help her think about how we had made the right choice. How this was not our fault and that there is no easy way out of this. She was not suffering nor in pain and none of us would ever want her to get to that point. It was hard to accept, several years ago, when she went hiking with us for the last time. We didn’t know at the start this would be the last but by the end we had seen what her new limits were, and big hikes got scratched from her to do list. It hurts to see anyone decline in health and it is even worse to see them suffer. Only if we treated our people as well. We are so selfish as a society that we keep our loved ones around longer than we should just because we can’t let go. The lessons our dogs teach us, if we would only listen. I’m reminded of a time at a party when Henna followed a toddler around wanting so bad the muffin that he was eating but, unlike most dogs, she never bothered the little one, instead choosing to lick up the trail of crumbs as they fell to the floor. Jes cried and I consoled best I could. She said to me that Henna is the best sweetest dog she ever knew, I told her that we are all products of our environment and that Henna was too. Then with a knock on the door our son came in holding Jess’ phone and said he would like us to see something. He played a video short that, within moments, had us all laughing again. We laughed and hugged and said our goodnights. With Henna in tow Jesica and I went to bed.

day 2
Being woken up at 4am by Henna needing to go out was to me as good as making it through the night.
Today I finished the place in the yard after Henna and I took the boy to school. I also finished her box. Things I have read suggested wrapping her up in a blanket, but I just can’t bear the thought of her unprotected in the cold ground. So I built a box, painted it and upholstered the inside with some scrap flower fabric. She has given up on eating but still has that look in her eye that makes me think she might pull through this. If it weren’t for the test results I might believe her. My mother in-law stopped buy today along with Felicia and her dog Lola Bear to say good bye. Flea brought fruit, muffins and coffee, such a sweet gesture. Ron and Albert came by later in the evening with wine and beer. It was nice to have some friends come buy with loving thoughts for us and our girl. I was good to allow friends their chance to say good bye. She was their friend too.
It was a struggle to finish the grave and coffin. That is the first time I had referred to them with those words, I guess I should call them what they are. I had many ideas of what to paint on the coffin, but I just couldn’t get it to happen. So I went with simple first grade style sunshine and flowers with a heart on top. This is the last night to say goodnight, to take her out, to love my little brown girl….i will always love her. I can’t go to bed. I know tomorrow is coming no matter what I do; I just wish I could drag it out a bit longer. That’s the selfish part of me coming out. October of 2002 she came into our lives all skinny and scared fresh from the pound. Now it is ten years later, again October and she is less than a day from being gone. She will always be in our hearts, our thoughts and memories. The pain of this week has taken its toll on us all and I know we are ready to move on. If only it could be with her. I knew the day we got her this would happen, I guess I just let go of the thought and went on with life. Here we are, caught up in the way life is. Too much to do and not enough time to get it all done. Today has been a blur, the whole week has been.
The pain of loss is the worst of all. If I cut myself it will heal. If I burn or break it will heal. But when you lose, it is gone. I hope tomorrow goes as well as I am planning. Knowing my luck it will be another adventure. I am going to finish this beer and go curl up with Henna and cry myself to sleep. “No rules!”

day 1 ( the last day)
today started at 5:53 as henna got up and needed to go out. I gladly pulled myself out of bed and we went outside. As we did when we first got her and I was training her to use a certain part of the yard to do her business, nobody wants to walk out in to the yard and step in dog poop, I went with her. Back in the house I made coffee and started to wake Jes. She was reluctant at first to get up but as soon as I came in with a warm mug she pulled herself up. We spent a few moments enjoying our last morning with our girl. But today is not for sitting around crying! It is about giving her the best dog day we can! We started by going to the boys room and climbing up on his bed, which isn’t too hard for her since he put his bed on the floor too. He woke to henna licking his arm and we sat and talked a bit. After another good cry we had some breakfast, packed some snacks and piled into the car. Today is about dog fun! I choose to drive to the smoky mountain park because I wanted to take her somewhere she has never been. It is full of smells and sights I knew she would love. As we approached the mountains I rolled down her window and just like a dog she thrust her face into the wind. With her little cheeks flapping and nose sniffing I could see her eyes begin to shine! Without fail, only a few minutes into the park with her head out the window we passed a group of turkey, she did a double take and got even more excited! Several times during our trip up the mountain she would go from laying in the seat next to Drew then back to the window. One time Jes pointed back to Drew, as I gave a quick look I saw him laying across the back seat and Hennas head was resting on his. More tears. We reached the Clingmans Dome parking lot and I glanced at the clock. Time kept slipping away and I was the only one that knew how much we had left. I never told Jes or Drew when the vet was coming. I had spent the past few days trying to avoid the clock. Every time I saw it I knew exactly how much time was left and I didn’t want to share that burden. We got out of the car and let her begin her sniffing patrol! She walked around experiencing smell she had never before. It was like a new day. She went down a little hillside to a patch of grass and began to feast. We were surprised to see how much she was eating. As the clouds blew in and out so did the views of the surrounding mountains. I thought of how we were at the highest point along the Appalachian mountains on what would later be the lowest day we have had in a long time. We didn’t want her to get sick on grass so we coaxed her away and went wandering some more. I know we had to get going and so back into the car. As we drove away I couldn’t get the thought out of my head as to where we were going….. back home. I knew what was next. I began to sob, but because I was driving and the fact I was trying to be strong for Drew and Jes I whipped the car into a pull off and mumbled something about needing to do something. As I shut the car door I fell apart. I went to the rear hatch and grabbed a water bottle. I didn’t know how long it would take to pull myself back to gather but I had to make it look like I was doing something. As I looked up I saw a spring coming from the rock. I emptied the city water from the container and crossed the street. As I knelt before the cool hard rock I could have filled the bottle with my tears as hard as I was crying. The bottle filled and I regained my composure and returned to the car. I said I wanted to get some spring water for Henna.
The ride down the mountain and back to town was filled with little moments of tears and smiles from us all. But as I approached the road near our house I couldn’t do it. I turned up one street, then another, then another. Tears welling in my eyes it was getting hard to see and I was running out of streets. So, reluctantly, I turned onto our street and into our driveway. I had no more control over my emotions than the fact that the end of our girls life was near. Jes and Drew wrapped me up in their arms and helped me grieve. We all did.  
Back in the house we went to the kitchen to eat. Not that we wanted to but we had to. Drew and I made sandwiches while Jes tried to feed Henna one last time. I knew that more than likely she would not eat, but I kept that thought to myself and let her try. To our surprise she ate! And ate some more! Drew and I sat on the kitchen floor and ate our lunch with her as Jes continued to feed her. It was so sweet, Jes would scoop some food out of the can and Henna would eat it right off the fork. Sashi, our cat, stayed right under her catching any scraps that fell out of Hennas mouth. We finished our lunch and wept again. I saw the clock again and knew our time was even shorter. I pushed back my tears and with my best I’m not crying every things o.k. voice, I suggested we all go for a walk. Drew called to her and she perked up and was ready to go!
Jes went to get her shoes, Drew, Henna and I went out to wait for her on the porch. As we walked out the door Henna spotted a squirrel on the front lawn. She leapt from the top step out to the grass! As she came down her back legs, clearly not expecting this maneuver, gave way and her back end did more of a flop on the ground. she didn’t seem to notice as her front half was in hot pursuit! Well, as hot as an old dog can be. The squirrel raced across the grass and up a tree long before Henna had the chance to get close, but we could see she felt and had the look as she turned around, that she had done her job and limped back to us with a happy dog face. Leashing her up the tears flowed again. We did our walk around the block each taking turns holding the blue leash that had always brought her so much joy to see. We stopped to let her sniff and explore. She saw another squirrel but this time I think her body won over her mind and she just watched it pass.
As we approached the house Jes let her off the leash as we had always done. We went inside and we all hugged on her. I didn’t want to just sit in the living room crying so I grabbed some dice and ask everyone to join me on the floor for a game. All four of us sat there and played. Trying to keep our minds off what would soon happen and just enjoy the now. Henna watched and Jes won as she often does. I still wanted to keep our minds busy so I asked what game was next. Drew said darts and we began to get up. As I stood I saw the strange car in the driveway and knew who it was, two women walking across the lawn in scrubs. Our time was up. The clock had caught up with us and our time was over.
I stepped out the door on to the porch just as the vet approached. I wanted to thank them and to let them know how thing were going in the house but all I could get out through the tears and sobbing was “thank you”.
They entered the living room and we all sat on the floor. Amy, the vet, began to explain what was going to happen. She also wanted to know how much we wanted to know as things happened and what we wanted to be there for. Our unanimous reply to her was we wanted to be here for the whole time. For our girl, for each other. We petted her and cryed as the drug to coax her off to sleep was injected.  This would take about ten minutes to take effect. In the time we shared stories about our girl and cried some more. We loved and kissed her. Whispering sweet things to her as she began to sleep. When the drug had done its task Amy then administered the final shot. She would stay to listen for her heart to stop and then she would go. We all held Henna tight in our arms and with our hearts. “she’s gone”  Amy whispered with her soft angelic voice. I am not exactly sure how the next few minutes played out but I hugged the vets and thanked them as they left. I returned to Jes and Drew on the floor. After a time of grieving I began preparing to complete the task I had worked on all week. I asked Drew for his help to retrieve the coffin I had out in the garage. He went with me and returned with the large box I had made. We set it on the floor next to the door. We eased Henna to the center of her blanket and lifted the corners. We placed her off to the side of her bed so we could place it in the coffin. Then when it was in place we again gently  lifted her in her blanket and placed her inside. I positioned her on her side as she would be most mornings when I would walk through the living room and she would turn on her side as to say “hey! How bout a lil belly rub” and I would bend down and give her a minute or so of belly rubbing. After getting her in place I went to her toy box and grabbed a few of the toys she loved at one time or another and placed them around her. Making sure her monkey ball had a treat inside, it was placed up by her head.
I always said that I would never want to be buried, and I still don’t want that, but somehow what we were doing made us feel a little better. I never like to do something based solely on money but I knew, after vet bills, we could not afford any other options.
With everything that we wanted in with her we continued to love on her and talk about her. We didn’t cover her up with the blanket, but just left it under her, because she never did like that. Then out of the box came a smell, a smell we all knew too well. DOG FART!  Henna got us again as she would often do! We couldn’t help but laugh, when the body relaxes, even in death, things happen. As gross as some might think it is, it’s part of the deal and I believe that it was all part of the lesson. Besides we all got a smile out of it and that is what that dog could always do. You walk in the door in a bad mood or upset, Henna could fix it, if only to take your mind off your troubles for a moment. That’s what any good dog will do if you just let them, and she did it again!
After more tears and stories, Sashi who had been so jealous of Hennas special treatment all week hoped up and into the box to see what the big deal was. She sniffed Hennas ear and walked over her belly, sniffed a bit more of her side and then I guess she realized what was going on because she hoped out and crawled on to Drew’s lap. I would like to think that it was her saying good bye to her old friend, though they spent most of their time in disagreement. Sashi would hide and leap out to scare Henna, and Henna would always run over to break up a cat fight. The last few months even Sashi succumb to Hennas declining health and had begun nurse duties. Stopping by to rub on her and lick her, all of which made Henna a bit nervous. At the end they made friends and even slept together sometimes.
With much hesitation Drew and I lifted the heavy box with our heavy hearts and carried it out to the back yard. I asked Jes to stay inside while we prepared a few things. I went over the details with Drew of what was going to take place, and just like the strong young man that he is, he did what he needed to be done.
After we got some torches light and a tissue box on a table next to a chair for Jes, Drew went in to get her. I asked him to grab a few flowers from around the yard that had bloomed recently, something I thought odd when I had noticed them last week but now I understood. He returned with Jes and they both had picked a small bouquet of flowers and a few fresh smelling herbs from Drew’s herb garden. Placing them in Hennas side Drew and I took our places on the end of the coffin. We set her down next to the grave and I grabbed the lid. We all said our finial fair well to our little big brown banana moose girl and I closed the lid. I began the process of hammering the nails into the lid, one down, three down, nine down. By this time I could no longer see what I was doing. Tears falling on to the lid I didn’t want to make a mistake now. With three left at the top I paused for a moment to gather myself, then down came a hand that grabbed the hammer. It was Drew. He took it from my hand and began to finish the job I had started. Five days ago I watched the very moment my sons’ heart broke and now I was watching the very moment he was becoming a man. He finished the last three nails and we both reached for the straps that we would use to lower her into the earth.  This would be no easy task. It was very physical and emotional.  Yet he performed flawlessly. She was now in her final resting place and all of the hard work was done. I scoped up a hand full of dirt and sprinkled it over the coffin, then Drew followed by Jes. Drew then picked up his trumpet and began to play. He selected “with a little help from my friends” by the Beatles and we listened with tears streaming down our faces. I know how hard it was for him to do that, it was so touching. Without hesitation drew picked up a shovel and began to help me move the dirt from the pile back into the hole from which it came. It surprised us how quickly it was done being that I had spent almost two days digging it. We mounded out the grave as I explained that the dirt would settle. Then placed the two make shift torches on top of the mound. I asked him if he would play one last song, Taps. I told him I knew that it was supposed to be for military but I added that Henna was the Admiral of love and she served this house well. He agreed and began to play while Jes and I held each other. Hearing that horn echo through the neighborhood was a thing of beauty. He is so talented.
We sat in the yard as the sky darkened above us. The glow from the torches in our teary eyes.
We returned to the house and held each other in the new found quiet of our home. Life would go on for us and dinner was no exception. Jes made soup and grilled cheese while drew and I went to the store to get gas in his jeep. I wanted some beer and to get Jes a Hershey bar. I thought it good to try and comfort us, at the same time to let the boy see that the show must go on.
After dinner we all hugged some more and were ready to let this day go. Drew has to get to a band competition tomorrow and Jes and I have to do things as well. Besides a good night sleep has been hard to get lately so I thought if we got started early it might help.
As I laid in bed I thought about how I so desperately wanted this day to never come then as I awoke to find it here I wished I could slow it down or stop it. Now I find myself wishing for it to end. I won’t be woken up in the middle of the night to a dog needing to go out nor would I trip on her if I needed to go to the bathroom during the night myself. All of the things that went along with being a dog house were over.  Who would break up the cat fights, who would sniff us all over when we came home from a new place or back from a unfamiliar dog house. This is why people do it over and over again. This is why people have many dogs. It is in our D.N.A…  Man, as far as we can guess, has for over 33,000 years lived side by side with dogs. Our pull toward the dog is as strong as survival it’s self. Just try to walk by a puppy and not fall in love. With all of these thoughts wondering through my head it is unlikely sleep will find me anytime soon. Then as I am quietly thinking I begin to hear Jes begin to cry. I had been trying to keep my self together but as she let go so do i. trying to say things to comfort her, we hold each other and cry ourselves to sleep again.
day 0
I awake to the light from the window. I remember that there is no need to rush out of bed to let the dog out. I need not worry if she is okay this morning. This is the first morning in a long time that my immediate services are not needed. I get up and slip on my robe. I walk to the back door. Stepping outside I look toward the tree line watching the sunlight peek through leaves. On the top of the grave between the torches sits a cardinal. “How?” I thought to myself. I began the week with letting one into our home to keep it from dying in the rainy cold and now one sits on the grave of our dog. After watching it fly away I turned to go back into the house only to fall apart again. There on the door was a brown streak right at Henna’s nose height. Every time she would want back in the house she would always push on that spot. Every month or two I would clean it off only to have it reappear a little while later. This was all it took to have me sitting on the steps crying again. Softly touching the same spot she would. I don’t know when I will ever be able to clean this one off but I know it won’t be today, or tomorrow. One chapter closes and the next chapter of our family begins. We are now just a cat house. I am sure we look forward to the time one of our friends needs a place for their dog while they travel, and I know whenever we see a dog on the street we will smile and think of our sweet Henna girl. But for now we will let the pain pass and the hurt dwindle as we get beyond this memory and push forward to the next challenge we face as a family.
                                                                                                                    F. Wes Breitenbach                                                                                                         
                                                                                        
 
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