Bailey and Toby.

Dear Bailey and Toby,

Bailey, you never knew this, but you were the product of a childhood dream.

When I was about 11 years old, my parents decided to adopt a puppy from the pound. I got to pick her out! She was a white, super fluffy puppy and we named her Shasta. We only had her for a month or two, but I was head over heels in love with her. For whatever reason, we couldn't keep her and had to return her to the pound on January 3, 1997--I was a weirdo and remembered the day. I wrote in my journal that it was the saddest day of my life. I wore her dog tag around my neck on a chain, a red heart with her name on it. I begged to go visit her at the pound so I could pet her, and finally my mom said yes, but it turned out she had just been adopted so I never got to see her again. I think it was the first time in my life I was truly heart broken. I vowed that when I got married and had my own home, I would get a dog and love it for the rest of my life.

And that's just what we did :)

I dragged Mike to the pet store a few short months after our wedding, and he spotted you-- a little blonde cocker spaniel with green eyes. And you were on sale! I begged him to take you home with us, and he said yes. It was one of the most exciting and terrifying feelings! I was responsible for the life of someone besides myself who depended on me completely! Oh, how we loved you.

And then there was you, Toby.

After a random and entirely unplanned pregnancy and miscarriage a year later, I wanted a child but it wasn't a good time to have one. So I did what any desperate woman would do, and went to the pet shop to hold puppies. And there you were, Tobe. A chocolate brown cocker with green eyes, a striking resemblance to Bailey. And then I found out you two were cousins from the same breeder. Then I took you back to a room to play, and it was all over, I had to have you. A week later I had named you. I knew this wasn't going to go over well with Mike. For a month I begged to get you! You just stayed there in that pet store, getting bigger, price tag going down, with no one to love you. The store workers knew me by name because of how often I came to visit you. After a blow out of a fight, Mike called me one day asking me what you looked like. I quickly figured out he was at the pet store, (the employees knew just whose husband he was) and he was bringing you home.

He took you to church to let you run around the field in the park there, and I remember pulling up and seeing you racing through the grass with your ears flapping in the wind, the first time in your life you ever got to run free! The image is burned in my memory. I remember Mike being stubborn and not wanting to admit how much he liked you too :) It was easily one of the happiest days of my early married life. I knew you belonged with us. And we took you home, you met Bailey, and the two of you have been inseparable ever since.

And then there was M.

We could never have guessed just how much this little girl would change our lives when she came into existence.

And I could never, ever have guessed that we'd ever say goodbye to you while you were still living.

I just wanted to tell you that even when we were at the end of our ropes, or you chewed up a diaper, or you stole M's snacks, or you peed on the floor, or you ate the kitty's poop, or you generally drove me crazy-- even at the end of all that, you were our dogs, and you were the best dogs.

And I wish things could have been different. I wish we made lots of money and could properly take care of you and properly take care of her.

But when the choice came, we had to choose her.

Back when I was 11, I didn't think a person could love a dog as much as I loved my Shasta. And as sad as that day was when I lost her, this past Saturday when we put you in someone else's truck and walked away was so much worse. The kids were upset that we left the park without you. I told M that you were going on a trip. The nicest man in the world ended up taking you; you couldn't have scored a cooler home to go to. I can't stop thinking about you, wondering how you're doing there, wondering if you miss us, wondering if you hate us for leaving you.

For a while I tried to console myself by saying, "they were only animals." But Bailey and Toby, you were so much more to us than that.

And I guess I just want you to know that the day we got you, you became ours, and you will always be  ours. You will always have our hearts. You will always have our children's hearts; you were so good with them. Thank you for loving us no matter what, even when we were so busy or overwhelmed that we couldn't give you the attention you deserved. I am sure you're loving that attention now in your new place. Thank you for always being happy to see me. Thanks for being upset when you saw me crying and for laying next to me when I was sick.

Thank you for being the best dogs there ever were. I won't wear your dog tags on my neck like I did when I was 11 (because let's be honest, that would be really weird :P). But I will wear the joy and happiness you brought me for the last six and a half years on my heart for the rest of my life. Thank you for everything.

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