I was involved in animal care and rescue for close to two decades. The epitome of those years was the time spent operating a senior, special needs, end of life sanctuary called A Chance for Bliss. The sanctuary was home to as many as 100 animals at a time — 25 horses, 23 dogs, nine potbelly pigs along with ducks, geese, goats and sheep. While the sanctuary no longer operates, I’m committed to keeping the memory of its residents alive by sharing their stories in my talks on mental illness and mental health and eventually in a book. Hope, a gorgeous Boston Terrier and the only non-rescued animal at the sanctuary, went missing (and was believed to be stolen) on June 8, 2008. Harmony, a 100% deaf Boston Terrier, came to us at eight weeks, given up because of her lack of hearing. Harmony passed away in my arms on April 9, 2016 at the age of 15 1/2. While I loved all the animals that came to the sanctuary, Hope and Harmony remain in a more sacred category.

You went missing nine years ago today, and every moment since, we have been praying you would find your way back into our arms, the place where you belong.

We have begged, pleaded, prayed and bargained for your return. We have promised whatever, whenever and agreed to pay whatsoever the ransom to secure your passage home to us.

But the call has never come, and there has been no strange car pulling up to the front door, the one we hoped would come. The vehicle with you as a passenger; the window down, your front paws draped over the top of the door, your body wiggling with delight.

The heartbreaking truth is you are still missing, and all we see is the memory of your sweet, perfect face in our minds.

It was an average day in an average week, and we were away for just a short while, but when we returned, you were gone.

We looked high and low, certain you were just sleeping in the next room. But, when we couldn’t find you, our hearts quickened, and our pulses raced.

We ran from house to house and cried out to the world. We plastered every post and sign with your picture and told every person we saw that you were missing. We begged them to look for you, to join us in the search, to help us find you, to wake us from our worst nightmare.

You were either taken or wandered off, but after considering the possibilities thousands of times, we are certain it was the former, not the latter.

We know you, and you would never have run away. You would never have left your Mom and Dad or abandoned your sister, Harmony.

None of us have ever fully recovered, and instead, our hearts have learned to beat half full.

But it was Harmony who suffered the most.

In your absence, Harmony tried to be you, to be two and not just one.You will be happy to know your sister did you proud and always took care of us, especially me. She was my constant companion, always on my left-hand side, the side closest to my heart.

Your beautiful sister passed away last April. I held Harmony close to me as she slipped from my grasp and made her way to the Rainbow Bridge. If by chance you are still alive, know that Harmony waits patiently to be reunited. From the moment you went missing, Harmony has been dreaming of the day you and she would again run and play together, just like you did for the eight magical years you were with us.

We miss you so much it hurts and stings. Your loss is like a deep cut, a wound that just won’t heal. But life must continue, and we need to move forward, wounds and all. It is the master plan.

I for one have been slow to accept the harsh reality that you and Harmony are gone. But I will try. And, in honor of you, and knowing you and Harmony would want me to smile again, today I finally put Harmony’s bed and toys away. I had left them out for you, but I know that I must now let go.

Facing this truth is the single hardest thing I have ever had to do, but it doesn’t mean my life is without Hope and Harmony. You and she have been and will remain fully alive in the very center of our souls always.

The author's black and white Boston Terrier, Hope

And while in truth, we will never know what happened, and most likely never find out who took you away, we do Hope …

We Hope they cared for you as we did.

We Hope they adored you as we did.

We Hope they spoiled you as we did.

We Hope they made you the center of their world as we did.

We Hope they loved you like we still do.

We love you, Hope.


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