Farewell to Hercules.

Sadly, we had to say good bye to Hercules yesterday. He was one of the most special, loving dogs that I have ever had the privilege and pleasure of sharing my life with. This is his story.

We were made aware of Hercules and his terrible living conditions in late 2011. Bonnie, a neighbor to Hercules owner let us know that Hercules was being slowly starved in the backyard. Besides no food, there was no water or shelter for him either. The other dog in the yard had already starved to death, and the owners did not even know. They had to be told that their dog was dead in the backyard. Hercules guardian angel, Bonnie, continued to feed Hercules over the fence and give him water even though she was told not to by the owner. Finally, two months later Bonnie convinced the neighbor to surrender Hercules to her.

We decided to take Herc into our rescue because he was already 10 years old, and he was not likely to make it out of the shelter alive if he had been taken there. Herc was a Shar Pei/Lab mix and his story tugged at our heartstrings along with the fact that Bonnie had given so much of herself in helping him. We wanted to help this poor boy who had been through so much. Bonnie also deserved to see Hercules have a happy ending.

As soon as Hercules arrived in Redding there was a bond that formed between the two of us. He and I became best friends and walked the perimeter of this fenced six acres as often as time and weather permitted. He listened to my problems and somehow seemed to understand when I was having a bad day, although Herc never seemed to have a bad day. He chased those rabbits that tormented him, but he was woefully ill equipped to catch them. He never needed a leash as he never strayed far from my side. No matter where he was, he always checked to make sure I was never too far away.

For two years we were content just walking and spending time together. As summer turned to fall in 2013 I noticed Herc seemed to be panting a little too much at the end of our walks even though the weather was cooling down. In November Hercules was diagnosed with heart disease. We were devastated. There is no cure. There are only meds to help control the inevitable progression of the disease. Our daily walks became shorter and shorter until he could only walk outside to relieve himself and walk right back in. He would eat less and less until he did not want to eat anything at all.

Yesterday, Rich and I decided that Herc's life was no longer a life, but simply an existence. We called Dr. Larry to come out and help Hercules leave this world peacefully and painlessly. Herc and I said good bye, and he kissed the tears from my face as if to say "I'm ok".

Although Herc was 10 years old when we took him in, and we only had two and a half years together, I would not change a thing. I would not give up one minute that we had together even though today the pain seems unbearable. Herc was my friend, my companion, and my teacher. I learned so much from him-about forgiveness, not holding grudges, and taking time to be grateful for the little things in life. He made me a better person. Herc was brave and strong to the end. He did not give up, but his heart did. He was a kind and gentle soul, and I am so grateful to have had him in my life.

RIP Hercules. You are forever in my heart.