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  • Writer's pictureKelly Nardoni

Love endures

Pet recue recipients of Annie's belongings
Rescue recipients of Annie's clothes, beds, and strollers

Since my book’s launch, I am grateful to have received some wonderful notes from readers. Through Annie’s story, one friend discovered an increased awareness—an appreciation of how precious and brief time is with his own senior rescue. Another remarked how she is now inspired to adopt an elderly pet. A favorite observation came from my friend Judy, who has a whole houseful of rescue dogs and cats: “And now, we think of Annie when we see the sun!!!” I so treasure this feedback. Not because it validates my writing, though I would be disingenuous if I didn’t admit that every writer hopes for positive endorsements. Most importantly, these comments speak to Annie’s impact beyond me.

Producing this little volume was a monumental effort propelled by my immense love for Annie and a calling. From the start, I felt strongly that her time with me was connected to a larger purpose. Annie's life of thirteen to fourteen years before me, her health struggles, and my challenges while caring for her must have greater meaning beyond the singular and simple (yet profound) joys associated with loving a pet. I wrote the book to encourage senior pet adoption. Yet, as I neared the finish line in releasing it out into the world, I made peace with the possibility that the countless hours and resources I spent may have no other purpose beyond my own catharsis, growth, and desire for self-expression. Anything else would be a windfall.

Within the book, I touch on the theme of clinging. Clinging to moments we know may be our last with a loved one. Wanting. Wanting more time, adventures, and memories. Time spent with older or ill humans and animals heightens these feelings. I am reminded of a guided audio meditation I encountered years ago. It noted how we are moving towards death even with our first breaths as a newborn baby. It may seem impractical to behold every moment or encounter with such awareness. Yet this consciousness surely shapes our choices and alters the degree of presence we give to walking through our days.

For me, love is the most important choice. To choose love over my fear of loss and grief. I still struggle with fear over not knowing how my decisions will play out or how a story will end, whether it comes to career moves or the personal decision of when to bring another rescue dog into my life. In wrestling with this discomfort, I recall how taking a chance on Annie profoundly and positively shaped my life—in opening my heart, in cultivating patience and playfulness, and in navigating loss. And this, of course, is where faith comes in. Life’s intricate mysteries will be revealed if and when they are supposed to. On Annie’s impact, a friend recently shared, “We will never really know the reach Annie’s story will have. So wonderful!” I agree.

I hope to welcome another rescue dog into my life over the next year. In the meantime, I take comfort in helping other rescue pets. Annie amassed quite a closet full of clothes and belongings during our time together. Rather than store these items for my next dog, I donated most of them to other pets in need. I took my time with this distribution over the past eighteen months, ensuring they went to just the right recipients, which have included Southern California Adoption Tails, Beople’s Buddies, Frosted Faces, and Dharma Rescue. Pictured above are touching photos of these animals enjoying their second acts with Annie’s gear (including some before and after shots of Annie and the recipients in her clothes). Last month I witnessed the amazing work at Dharma Rescue, which cares for disabled dogs and cats, including many seniors. I have decided to donate a portion of book proceeds to Dharma from all direct sales in 2019. If you have enjoyed Annie’s story and want to support this worthwhile organization, please consider ordering copies for holiday gifts. Thank you for your continued interest in my work and sharing a mutual love of animals.

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