Rainbow Bridge

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A tribute to Sadie -

We got her from you in Dec 2015. We had her for almost 8 years. She was always playing with her ball. Even in her old age she would walk back and forth with her ball in her mouth. We both retired 3 years ago, and she was with us 24/7.

I know you hear it all the time, but she was a loving loyal baby. Our hearts are broken, and we know we are going to be missing our girl terribly.

Thank you for allowing us to love her by putting her in our life.

Dorothy Cunningham




Titan was the best boy (2014-2023). He was my fearless protector and the greatest snuggling companion. Titan was loyal to his people. I am forever grateful for my years with him.


Hazel (Basil)
A very sad day for our family as our beloved, beautiful doggie daughter Hazel (Basil) crossed the  rainbow  Bridge.
Our hearts are broken and the river of tears is following as we mourn our loss.
Just to let you know, she finally felt at home with us, it took a while, but she finally was able to snuggle with us and knew we love her as she loved us!❤
Thank you for Hazel (Basil).
Thank you!❤
Maria Lipari 



"Rise above the storm and you will find the sunshine" by Mario Fernandez 


  On Monday, we lost Mingo. We are devastated to say the last 27 months with him was not nearly long enough...

  The verse above is likely so fitting to describe Mingo's life. He was abandoned, persevered, and then rescued, finding his sunshine. He made his way from California to Ohio and then to Pittsburgh. Nancy, his Cali foster described Mingo as confident in a gentle, calm way. Diana's bio of him said the same. I fell in love with a picture of a black Mastiff on the Mastiffs to Mutts site.

  Mingo was immediately comfortable with us and his new home. He picked Shawn first, but I wasn't having that. We became best friends, and he was one of the greatest loves of my life. We shared every single food item, and he had an affinity for canned whipped cream. He could be in a dead sleep, and I'd flip that cap and he came rolling into the fridge. Mingo came when my life was at its lowest. He never had a bad day and he looked at you with his big eyes and floppy jaws like hey, I'm over here. I can't even tell you how many conversations we had; I'll miss those the most…

  A year ago, Mingo's health changed but we had an amazing team for him. He had extensive testing; a plan and I stayed on top of his care. We were really on cruise control.

  Mingo was an expert sleeper and snorer. He loved to sunbathe and dug some mean cooling pits. He was a big guy, but his heart was bigger. He loved a great face and neck scratch, and his ears were like velvet. Man did I love those ears!

  He never met a person or animal he didn't like and thought everyone was his friend. He loved kids and would stop at nothing to try to get on the playground at lunch or the bus after school. If you had the pleasure of knowing him, you couldn't help but love him.

  The loss is significant. Our house is empty. Midnight and Simon (his cat BFF) are lost. I could go on and on about Mingo, but I'll just share some of the 3500+ pictures of him I have on my camera roll. I also cannot go without saying thank you to Diana, Nancy, and Lori. The love, support, advice, and friendship you provided was immeasurable. You are all the best of the best and are true rockstars in every sense.


Shawn and I are beyond grateful that you chose us to be his family.  What he added to our lives was immense in every way. 

An Open Letter on Loving the Imperfect Dog:
It took me 4 years after the loss of Zoe, my childhood dog, to feel healed enough to adopt another dog. I knew I couldn't adopt a female or a yellow lab, and soon, I also realized I couldn't even adopt a chocolate or black lab. This dog, my first dog as a dog mom instead of a dog sister, needed to look the opposite of Zoe so I could be fair to both myself and the dog. After all, Zoe and I were kindred spirits, and that is hard to compete with.
And then...my eyes landed on Clifford, a wrinkly, drooly, underweight but extra large, freckled boy, and my heart just knew...he was mine.
I had grand plans for Clifford. As a relatively new graduate occupational therapist who spent the entirety of my undergraduate and graduate years completing every project possible about animal assisted therapy, Clifford was supposed to become a therapy dog and join me at work. 
There was just one major problem that complicated that plan...Clifford had trauma from his year of life that he experienced before we met. The trauma of being a stray, being hit by a car and breaking several bones, surviving parvo and heartworms and being in multiple rescues the first of which ended up being shut down for causing cruelty and death to a multitude of dogs, was something that he tried to move on from but never forgot.
I didn't know all of his past when I first adopted him but I was able to get more and more pieces over time. It simultaneously broke my heart learning what he endured and devastated me knowing the life I envisioned the two of us having was never going to happen.
Don't get me wrong, Clifford was the most incredibly loving dog I have ever met, and I have met hundreds of dogs. But to know that deep, deep love, you had to be in his circle. And his circle was small. I learned that the hard way after we experienced a couple biting incidents.
Clifford had one flaw. Literally only one flaw. But it was a massive one to have. There was a period of time that I had stomach ulcers from the stress of figuring out the root of Clifford's fears, how to best read the environment as well as Clifford's behavioral indicators and how I could help support him in living a full and wonderful life. Because there was absolutely no doubt that Clifford deserved nothing less than a love-filled, enriching life. Just like every other dog. No matter what his flaw was. Just like every human - because we all have flaws. 
Clifford and I embarked on a multi-year journey of training - not just for him but for me too. And while we eventually stopped going to professionals, we spent our entire 9.5 years continuing to work on and practice the immense amount of life skills we learned. I found amazing resources to muzzle train Clifford in the most positive way possible so that he associated the muzzle with fun and adventure. I even customized his muzzles to be colorful and less intimidating looking. We learned tricks and fitness activities together that we could do in our house and yard. I bought all the enrichment toys and activities my money could buy and learned how to make so many DIY versions as well - and you know what, my entire family all contributed to this by saving boxes and newspapers and plastic containers all for the love of Clifford. 
But despite his issues, Clifford wasn't home bound. Don't get me wrong, he made it very clear till his last day that given the chance he would take a chunk out of someone he deemed untrustworthy. We joked as he aged that he was like that Toby Keith song, "I'm not as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was." But with all that work that Clifford and I, as well as Scott (who Clifford chose to be my husband) and Clifford's Aunts and Uncles and Grandparents put in, Clifford thrived on daily neighborhood walks (and was strongly opinionated on where we should go), he absolutely loved trail hiking, sitting by the creek or on top of a hill surveying his kingdom, swimming (yes this big wrinkle boy was a great swimmer!), being a beach bum, trailblazing through snow, and even going to events like the SPCA Walk for the Animals. 
And while I am a highly sensitive person, very intuned to accepting the differences in people and being empathetic and nonjudgemental...Clifford taught me that no matter how open and nonbiased I thought I was...I could do better. I could be more aware, more educated, more compassionate, more tolerant, more action oriented. 
Was it easy? No. 
Did it become easier as time went on? Yes.
Was it hard work the entire 9.5 years we had together? You bet.
Was it worth it? Absolutely. 
Would I do it again? For the love of Clifford...yes.
Our life may have looked very different than I had imagined when I initially adopted Clifford, and being a therapy dog in the traditional sense wasn't in the cards for us. But Clifford was a therapy dog...he had an incredible therapeutic value that transformed both my personal and professional life immensely.
Clifford was my soul dog. 
And I am forever grateful he choose me.
I love you more than I know how to put in words, my sweet Cliffopotamus. 
Rest easy.
We'll hug once more at The Rainbow Bridge.

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