In October of 2014 my husband shared the top photo with me along with the words "WE HAVE TO GET THIS DOG OF OF THE SHELTER NOW!!"
 Long story short, that translated into that dog becoming our beloved Bandit.
I think this picture illustrates why adoption matters. This picture is of the same dog. At first, scared and alone in a shelter, then knowing he was now a loved family member.

Oh boy, was he loved. He was loved so fiercely and deeply.  

Among the flood emotions, I feel angry. (I'm told that this is "normal") I feel anger that he was " short changed" in life. His beginning was so rough. He was an emaciated stay who was eating garbage to survive. He had been shot and had heart worm.
His life took a complete 180 once he was rescued. He deserved so much more of the good times than what he got though.

On November 1st, we should be celebrating his "Gotcha Day". I should be buying him clams and his own lobster for dinner that night. Chad should be pretending to be agitated over this, all the while me knowing that he doesn't mean it, because he too knows that Bandit deserves the world.
Instead, on this November 1st and every preceding November 1st , all that will remain are pictures, memories and that glaring empty spot on the couch where Bandit should be.
Logically, I know that we did everything we could. We spared no expense, we did and tried everything that was suggested. This should make me feel better, some times it does. But most of the time, my heart is just left to wonder if it will ever not feel shattered.

The one thing which has brought us comfort has been the absolute outpouring of love, compassion and friendship. I'm not joking when I say we have received more  flowers, cards, messages and gifts than some people get when a human passes away.
As I'd always tell him "It's not just us who love you, EVERYONE loves you."

As much as it hurts, and it hurts BADLY. Nothing can take away the fact that this was the best boy ever.
As my friend Lisa said about him,  "Hes the most loyal soul to walk this earth."
He was the best guy to watch the sunrise with. He was the best guy to snuggle up in bed with.
 He gave the best greetings when we'd come home. He was the best company if you were home sick. There was nobody better to go for a nice, long walk with. 
Even his "mischievous" behaviors were beyond adorable.

The folks who saved him back in 2014, are my heroes. They have gone and turned what was up until just a few years ago, a very high kill shelter into a shelter that hasn't killed in several years. They work so hard and have saved so many precious lives.
They recently saved a very pregnant mama-dog-to-be. 
Her babies are opening their eyes and discovering this world. Because of the Paws & Claws volunteers, these babies will never know the hardships, fear, hunger and evil people that Bandit , along with some many thousands of other dogs had to experience.
To honor our Bandit, they named this handsome little devil after him.
One day, when our hearts have healed, we'll rescue another paws and claws dog.
But for now, we're still trying to learn how to continue on without our precious Bandit.
Hug your dogs tight, take them for walks, take them for rides, but NEVER take them for granted.

***Also, if you have the means and you can find it in your heart, please consider making a small donation to Paws and Claws. Literally every.single.cent. goes to the animals. There is no 6-figure CEO at this group, just a bunch of selfless volunteers committed to cleaning up the mess that we as a society have made.


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