Back before I was born, my human had a rescue dog named Spanky. Spanky was a German Shepherd and Anatolian mix, who weighed-in at about 135 pounds. No, he wasn’t fat. He was large and lean. He was a lightning-fast runner and swimmer; an athletic big boy who was my human’s beloved companion. I often think that I’ll never measure up to Spanky since I’m half the size he was, but I’m OK with that. We dogs don’t compare ourselves to others, since we’re just happy to be loved.

Anyway, Spanky was a gentle giant who was scary to those who didn’t know him due to his size, his jet-black eyes and dark muzzle. He would always stand in front of my human when people approached just in case she needed protection. He never acted aggressively but had an uncanny ability to spot the “bad” people in a room and would lift his lip and growl if they tried to pet him. He only did this four times in the eight years that my human had him, and she said the people had deserved it.

Spanky got rescued after he’d been found alone, dumped in a highway rest stop in North Carolina. He was a small puppy of only about eight weeks and was hiding in the wheel well of a parked 18-wheeler. He was covered with dirt and grease, and was a very scared, skinny little guy. The people who found him scooped him up and brought him up North.

He was nursed back to health, vetted, and put up for adoption. By that time, he was about three months old and almost 40 pounds! My human told me that he’d met lots of humans who were interested in adopting him but was scared of all of them. Then when he met her, it was love at first sight! He was all over her, licking her face and wagging his tail. She wasn’t sure if she wanted another big male dog but the rescue group begged her to adopt him! They apologized and said that it was against protocol to beg, but he had been so fearful of everyone else, and clearly wanted to go home with her.

Spanky grew quickly into a majestic, loyal and loving companion to my human and she cherished him with all her heart. They did everything together from hiking in the woods to swimming at the beach, to visiting the elderly and infirm. When Spanky turned eight, he was given an excellent bill of health at his annual Vet visit . Then a couple of weeks later on Sept. 5, 2013, a Saturday morning with a bright blue sky, Spanky collapsed halfway through his breakfast. My human rushed him to emergency and he died in her arms about one hour later. It seems he had a silent cancer, hemangiosarcoma on his spleen and it had ruptured. He died of internal bleeding and there was nothing that could be done to save him. And so suddenly in a flash he was gone. My human was devastated.

The whole point of this story is that while this past weekend and that remembrance was very hard, my human shared something very important. She told that when it comes to Spanky, there is something that’s she so grateful for. And that is that she never neglected to tell him that she loved him. Yup; she said she told him every single day and many times a day at that. She also showed him by taking him on walks and to the park and to so many places. So that when he passed suddenly, she had no regrets that she hadn’t said it enough. He heard the words “I love you” many, many times and knew how she felt.

What I want to leave you with is this: say “I love you” to those important to you. Say it today. Not tomorrow or next week, but today. Say I love you now and say it a lot. We never know how much time we have or when it will run out and could lose the chance to say those words forever.

I love you,

Benny H.

Benny H. is a 7-year-old mixed-breed dog who enjoys writing, meeting new people, and providing companionship to his loving adopter, Liz Hoffmann. They live in Connecticut. Liz has extensive experience in sales, marketing, and opening her heart to shelter animals.