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It's no secret that a good dog can help you get through hard times. There's something about a dog's smile and constant love that is impossible to resist even during great sorrow. I just read a story that makes this especially clear and has an extra tug on the heartstrings.
Michelle Michalek writes from Buffalo, New York and tells the story of her beloved younger brother who was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer at the heartbreakingly young age of 20. Upon receiving his diagnosis, he had only one request. Jeremy wanted a pit bull puppy. So Michelle immediately took up the task of finding him the perfect puppy. She found a brindle puppy that was sure to be perfect on the same day that Jeremy had lung surgery. A few days after he came home, Michelle picked up the puppy and brought him to her brother.
Knowing the dog was unlikely to understand her, she explained on the drive that he was to be the best friend to a very sick, but also very special boy. The dog must have understood because when Michelle brought him into the room full of family and friends, the pup made a beeline for her brother. For the next three years Jeremy and his dog Remy were inseparable. Jeremy often told Michelle that if it wasn't for his beloved canine that he would have lost it. Remy was there and strong through the worst of the disease.
When Jeremy began to get much worse, he worried about Michelle. The thought of leaving his sister bothered him terribly, so he convinced Michelle that she needed a puppy as well. Michelle was understandably reticent, but Jeremy insisted and she finally agreed. Knowing that Michelle had always wanted a yellow lab, he began to search for the right puppy in the newspaper and making phone calls.
Jeremy found Michelle a wonderful lab pup that she named Tritan. For the next several years they raised the puppy together. He helped them laugh when they wanted to cry. It was the last thing they did together. Three months later Jeremy passed away. Remy and Michelle were devastated.
Tritan though, would not let them sink deep into their depression. Tritan wouldn't allow Remy to ignore his food, harassing him to eat. He also pestered him until he would get up and play. Tritan wouldn't let Michelle stay in bed and mope either. He jumped on her, yanked of the sheets, barked and eventually got her out of bed every morning. He never left her side. He comforted her when she cried. He made her smile when she didn't want to. He couldn't replace her brother, but Tritan gave her a similar sort of unconditional love. Michelle realized that her brother knew exactly what he was doing when he got her Tritan and understood what he meant when he told her she would realize one day that he was right to get her a dog. Michelle says, "There is no greater gift than the last gift my brother gave me, my yellow lab Tritan.