It’s Still Your Birthday

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’re not here, but it’s still your birthday.

You died 18 months ago and went to a place that lies beyond my view. But thankfully, the essence of you remains and the memory of you colors every aspect of my life.

There is no part of my day the thought of you does not influence. There is no corner of my world that does not have a piece of you in it. Each day is a reminder of the fact that you are gone, but each day is also a reminder of the fact that you lived.

You’re not here, but it’s still your birthday.

In November of the new millennium, a small, perfect furry soul burst into existence, and life suddenly became more adventurous, more exciting and way more fun.

When you came forth, the order of things changed; joy was now the priority, adventure the plan for the day and kinship the glue that held it all together.

You were born so we could be united. You came to teach me the ways of love, to demonstrate loyalty, faithfulness, commitment and devotion. You were created to be my ally, my companion, my partner and my best friend. You were meant to be by my side, my left-hand side, the side closest to my heart.

You’re not here, but it’s still your birthday.


It has been written that only a dog and a child are created equal, a winged pair, the two halves of love. I would agree, but add that a man is always a child, no matter his age.

I am that boy, you are that dog, and from the moment I first laid eyes on the sweetest face I had ever seen, I was hooked, and I remain captive still.

I would not be who I am had it not been for you. My life would have been ordinary and not the quest it has become. Without you, I would have missed out on the best moments of my life, times of profound discovery of what lies deep within me.

You are the greatest gift in all my life, and you linger still … all around me, every day.

I can’t see you, but I will celebrate you. I can’t touch you, but I will honor your presence. I can’t hear you, but I will sing your name.

You’re not here, but it’s still your birthday.

Happy birthday, Harmony! I love you.

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