Saying goodbye to a dog is never easy and the pain of losing a young dog suddenly is excruciating - something we have never experienced before and something we hope never to endure again. We adopted Luna last spring from Happy Tails Rescue, giving Sally a dog friend and returning us to a pack of four for the first time since our dear Joey passed in 2014. Young Luna brought us much joy. She was a wonderful dog, full of energy, always wanting to play or go on an adventure, but also sweet, cuddly and loving. Unfortunately, she contracted leptospirosis, which did irreparable kidney damage, and we had to say goodbye on September 25th, 2020. We had far too little time with her but are grateful for every moment we did share. As we knew they would, our Rainbow Bridge pack of three dogs welcomed her with open paws, and we are grateful Jimmy has sent us a letter to let us know she's arrived safely. - Todd and Stephanie Belcher

     Dear Stephanie and Todd,

     Hi! It's Jimmy. I never expected to be writing to you about Luna crossing the Rainbow Bridge - not for many, many years.

     When Freddie, Joey and I chose Luna as your next pack member - after that exhaustive search process we told you about - we knew she'd be the perfect addition and she was! (I must confess that Freddie, Joey and I didn't know about Luna's habit of jumping up on the dining table and kitchen counters. She wanted to live with you so much that she kept that off her resume. But it really was an impressive feat, wasn't it? We couldn't help but admire her athleticism.)

     Since Luna arrived at your house last spring, Freddie, Joey and I have been having so much fun watching channel 740. It made our tails wag to see Luna and Sally play in our old back yard, running and clashing on those long grassy stretches, and welcoming new friends to play. It brought Joey great joy to see Luna reclaim his sleeping hole in the boxwoods by the patio. He'd worked so hard on that hole, never imagining it would fit her perfectly, too.

     When Luna got sick, we cleared our schedules and had the Cable Critters install a new channel 1600 so we could watch over her while the veterinarians did everything they could. We ordered all our food through Pupper Eats, and the kind delivery donkeys brayed their good wishes for Luna every time they dropped off a meal. Then, one evening, we heard scratching at the front door.

     "I'll get it," I said, jumping up to find Kato, a very friendly cat from the Welcoming Committee, paperwork for a new arrival in his teeth. "Hi, Kato. There must be a mistake," I said. "We're off for a few days because of a pack emergency."

     "I saw the schedule," Kato meowed softly, "but we know you'll want to be the Newcomers Club ambassadors for this arrival."

     I took the packet, and Kato lovingly rubbed himself up against my neck as I looked at the cover: a photo of a smiling white dog, with floppy ears and black patches, like she'd gotten into some of Todd's paints. Luna Belcher.

     Normally, Freddie, Joey and I carefully read the packets prepared by the Welcoming Committee. They tell us all about a newcomer's family history, likes, dislikes, hobbies and interests - everything we need to know to set them up for their magical life here. Not this one. We knew everything it said.

     "We've got work to do!" I barked at Freddie and Joey, tossing the packet in front of them. They gave it a glance and jumped into action. I called AARF Architects to expand our house, while Freddie went online to Crate & Bark and Wayfur to order the furniture for Luna's new bedroom. Meanwhile, Joey ran to the Dapper Dog to outfit Luna with collars, coats and hats for parties and holidays. In no time at all (mostly because we don't really have time on this side of the Rainbow Bridge), Luna's room was perfect.

     We ran down to the bridge just as Allie Beagle was announcing Luna's arrival, as only a beagle can. We watch a lot of animals cross the bridge. Most animals run, including the pigs, who are surprisingly fast. Some dogs bound or sprint. A lot of the cats amble. The rodents scurry and scamper.

     But Luna practically flew, leaping from one end of the bridge to the other.

     With Luna, we could skip a lot of the introductory information. She recognized the three of us right away, not just from Todd's excellent portraits of us that hang in your house but because of the layered smells we'd left over the years on all your belongings. (Don't worry! Only animals can smell them. None of your houseguests would suspect a thing!) And, of course, she had heard about the Rainbow Bridge.

     Freddie had ordered a special limo LegLyft stocked with fancy waters and snacks. While Freddie, Joey and I hung our heads out the windows, Luna poked hers out of the sunroof.

     "Where are we going first?" Luna asked.

     "We thought you'd enjoy the Don't Fence Me In Dog Park & Recreation Area," Joey said. "But that's just the start."

     "Sounds fun!" Luna woofed.

     We had a blast running around and jumping over all the fences and walls at Don't Fence Me In. Freddie insisted we go next to her namesake park, The Freddie Belcher Follow Your Nose & Feel the Wind Trail System, where we alternated running on trails and zipping along in LegLyfts. Luna loved it as much as Freddie.

     We promised Luna we'd explore all the other parks and recreational areas in the coming days, and told her that we'd be having a big family reunion with the extended Belcher pack of your childhood pets soon.

     As we headed home, we stopped by the Food Court, picking up a feast - something from every stand. Luna gnawed a turkey leg from Legs! Legs! Legs! as we walked.

     Luna loved her room, with a specially made bunk bed to accommodate her affection for heights, and gave a framed photo of her boyfriend Sam a big kiss. "Sam!" she said. "Isn't he the cutest? Sally thought he was handsome too but knew that Sam and I had a special connection and stepped aside, romantically speaking, so I could have him all to myself."

     We settled in the living room to chew after-dinner bones and watch channel 740.

     "I have to say, I didn't think I'd be crossing the bridge at my age but when I found out it was my time, I looked forward to meeting you all," Luna said. "Stephanie and Todd talk about all the time. You did a great job teaching them to be such good dog parents."

     "Oh, we didn't teach them," I said. "They've always been the best people ever."

     "The really are!" Luna said, helping herself to a second bone. "From the very first day as a member of their pack, I had so much fun - long walks and car rides every day, playdates with friends, boat rides. I'd never been on a boat before. I'd never even heard of boats!"

     She continued: "And the food! They gave us such good food, plus all the toys and treats we could ever want. Well, maybe not all I wanted. Did you hear I wasn't allowed to be in the kitchen alone?"

     We nodded our heads. "That was for your own good," Freddie said.

     "Oh, I know," Luna said. "Stephanie and Todd were always looking out for me. Even when it was my time to go, I could tell they didn't want to say goodbye. But in those last days, they filled me with all the love they possibly could - all the love I would need to make it safely across the bridge."

     "I'll tell you a Rainbow Bridge secret," I said. "All the delicious food and treats and bones here: We don't need any of it for nourishment. The thing that sustains us is love, and Stephanie and Todd gave us the perfect amount. We have enough love to last until the day - whenever it comes - that we're reunited with them. Of all the gifts Stephanie and Todd gave us, love is the most important of all."

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