This page is dedicated to three very special dogs, and the family who loves them.
Dieter and Jill Gallegos have allowed us to share this story, and their photos with you.
Their story will resonate with anyone lucky enough to have loved,
and to have been loved by a dog.
A Story Of Three Dogs
by Dieter Gallegos
This is my story of three dogs and how they became a huge part of our lives. I never wanted a dog; I have always been a "cat person". To me, dogs were dirty, drooling unkempt animals that were better left to others.
In August of 2000, my wife told me she always wanted a dog and that for her birthday she wanted to look for a Labrador. I was like, ok, whatever, and not too enthused about the idea. After her birthday party, she was looking through the newspaper at puppies for sale. An ad caught her eye and before long, she and her father were off to "go look".
Knowing what was coming, I took my young son to Petsmart to get supplies because I KNEW she would bring home a dog. Sure enough, she arrived later with a tiny, trembling 8 week old chocolate lab that she named "Hershey".
At first, Hershey was indeed a smelly, loud pain in the rump that almost got returned to the breeder! I am not sure how Hershey and I came to terms with one another, but we did. We did indeed.
Hershey chose me as "his person" and we bonded as close as a person and animal could be. Over the years we accompanied each other on many adventures. We went from tent-camping to a big RV and traveled the county as a family. Hershey was always there, constant and true.
Hershey had his share of trials and tribulations. From the midnight trips to the vet for all the things that dogs get themselves into, to two TPLO surgeries a year apart! Hersh grew grey with dignity and even though he slowed down, he never stopped. Early on, it became apparent that I NEEDED him and he even slept in our bed to the point I could not sleep without him there!
In November of 2009, Hersh began to slow down a lot. He lost interest in food or playing. A trip to the vet revealed an abdomen full of blood. I remember sitting in the emergency hospital with him on my lap when the news came in. Cancer. His spleen was covered in masses and he was bleeding internally.
Though gravely ill, Hershey didn't give up on us and we on him. An emergency surgery was done and his spleen removed successfully. Unfortunately, the cancer had done its damage and it was only a matter of time. My beloved Hershey was going to die.
As a law enforcement officer, I have seen things and experienced things that I will carry with me forever, but I was unprepared for the eventual loss of my best friend. Hershey recovered as well as could be expected from such a major surgery and soon he was home again. I attended loss therapy in anticipation of what I knew was to come and I was slipping into depression.
It was almost an afterthought that we considered adopting another lab. We were so involved with Hershey and his quality of life that we never thought of what happens after he passes. We made the decision to adopt a puppy now, before Hershey passes.
On February 6, 2010, little baby Snickers came home to us from Centennial Ranch. We didn't really pick him; he more or less picked us! His mother and father are beautiful chocolates, and he was from a litter of 12! Little Snickers followed Hershey around everywhere! It seemed that "Uncle Hershey" had taken the little pup under his wing and began teaching him all the in's and out's of being a good dog!
The evening of March 21, 2010 will always be burned into my memory. It is the night that Hershey began a downturn one last time. I will never forget the look Hershey gave me. It was a look of "it's time, dad.". We spent the entire night talking, petting and enjoying one another's company one last time. At 7:40am on March 22, 2010 I held Hershey's paw as he crossed The Rainbow Bridge at the vet's office. He was at peace and free of pain and left with love.
In our grief, we overlooked how Hershey's passing would affect little Snickers. Snickers refused to eat or play. He just stared at the front door where he saw his "Uncle Hershey" leave that sad morning never to return.
The breeder we got Snickers from, Centennial Ranch, heard of Hershey's passing. To help us in our time of loss, they offered us, free of charge, the last puppy from Snickers' litter, a little chocolate girl.
It was a gift of unimaginable love! We were almost too shocked! When I asked my wife what we should do, she yelled "Yes!". My wife then went to the vending machine at her work to look for a name, and thus, "Reese" was chosen!
That Friday, little Reese joined our home!
She was a very shy and skittish little pup who seemed to be afraid of everyone and everything. The breeder said she had been picked out twice by people and even paid for once, but the deals never went through and she was left alone.
Poor little Reese trembled in fright all the way home.
We left Snickers at home when we went to pick her up and when we returned, we made it a point to come in the front door where Snickers saw Hershey leave.
My wife and I were apprehensive if the pups would remember each other as littermates, but our fears were unfounded! We sat little Reese in front of Snickers. They were motionless for a few moments as they sniffed each other nose to nose. They suddenly broke out in enthusiastic wagging of tails and began to lick the other's face and roll around on the floor playing like never before!
Snickers had found his heart again and Reese was no longer alone and afraid! It was indeed a beautiful miracle seeing the two separated siblings reunited again in their "forever home"!
I am still not sure who rescued who! My wife and I could not help thinking that somewhere over The Bridge, Hershey had a "divine paw" in all of this!
It's been over five years since Hershey's passing. It still hurts and I suppose it always will. But the two pups in our household healed our hearts and have grown into such beautiful adult labs that anyone would be proud of!
They share our life completely and we are better people because of them. Snickers is a big, robust lover who will give you the most awesome hugs! Reese is the most caring, nurturing and emotionally supportive dog I have ever encountered!
I still cannot sleep without the presence of, now two, labs sharing our bed.
I know that somewhere, Hershey is looking down with that goofy cocked-head look and smiling!
Thanks for reading!