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We said goodbye to Salem on Monday, July 20, 2015. We were able to be home together and Salem left this world with the grace and dignity he deserved surrounded by those he loved most in the world.

We wrote this letter in celebration of his 12th Gotcha Day September 27, 2014. We wanted to celebrate his life while he was still with us.

Salem was the inspiration for Four Muddy Paws. We built our business for him and in turn, he helped us touch so many lives including all of the cats and dogs we have helped over the years. It might have been some nutritional advice or help with a bath or finding the right toy. All of these pets and families over all these years owe a debt of gratitude to Salem. He touched everyone who worked with him and was a big part of our Four Muddy Paws family.

His passing will leave a void in our hearts and in the hearts of everyone he touched. He’s always been an old and wise soul. We admired how he lived his life and we were as devoted to him as he was to us.

Our hearts are breaking and we know that in time we’ll feel less pain but we will never forget our boy Salem and all he brought into our lives.

A Letter to Salem – on your 12th Gotcha Day:

Happy Gotcha Day Salem! It seems like just yesterday that we found you as a little puppy on that camping trip near Salem Missouri. We had no idea what laid ahead but we’ve sure been through a lot of adventures together and we’re looking forward to more. You’re a very special dog and we’re forever thankful we found each other. You literally came to us in a dream a few weeks before we found you. This black and white dog with a white chest with a few spots came into our dreams and who would have guessed that as we turned the corner on the road that evening you would be there waiting for us to pick you up and take you to forever home you had already picked out. That was a dramatic evening as you well remember but you never let that hold you back.

You’ve changed our lives so dramatically but you’ve also taught us many life lessons. We call you the “Gandhi of Dogs” because of your gentleness. loving and forgiving nature and your non-confrontational attitude. You were the ultimate teacher helping both Foster and Frankie understand how polite dogs behave and you would just walk away if another dog got too far into your space.

We’ll never forget the night you found us. After settling into our campsite and introducing you to everyone, we were getting our food at the camping picnic when you were bitten by a friend’s dog. We’re not sure exactly what happened but this night will stay with us forever. We had only known each other for a few hours and then this happened. We rushed you about 45 minutes to a vet we had seen earlier that day. We thought for sure your jaw was broken or your eye was injured. The vet looked at you and said basically “I know you just found him today and since we put down many dogs each week here we can just put him down tonight” With your head on the table your eye’s looked up at us as if to say “but we just met…please don’t leave me now!” Obviously, that wasn’t a solution for us so the examination continued and it turned out that perhaps your injuries were not as bad as we first thought. So we got some medication and took you back to our camp so we could bring you back home in the morning. You slept all night next to us in our tent and then woke up full of vim and vigor. The injuries were indeed much more minor than we first thought and we knew things would be OK when you went over to another friend’s Rhodesian Ridgeback’s bowl and began eating his food! So you went on the float trip with us and we all had a grand time and our life together was now off to a good start.

You’re a little quieter now but you’ve always been an old soul with a mischievous side. Not everyone sees this side of you but we see it every day. From getting the paper each morning to grabbing a toy every time we’re going for a ride in the car or going to the shop, to doing spins as you get excited when we get your leash and collar out. There’s nothing like watching your unbridled joy as you see the beach and run into the water. Plus the not-so-subtle look you give us when you look behind the door where we keep your Chuck-It is priceless as you look at the door then look back at us and back at the door again. The ball games might be a little shorter now and you might be a little more stiff after playing but the joy we see when you’re out there catching the ball is worth it as we know you live for “playing ball”. Cocking your head like you often do just melts our hearts and makes us smile inside. You could often be found either at our feet by our desks at work or sitting or lying near the shop steps just watching the world go by and, of course, waiting the opportunity to nudge someone (sometimes not so subtly!) for treat from the treat bowl. You can be quite persuasive sometimes!

But best of all, we love it when you lean into us or put your head on our lap, lay your head upon our feet or look at us with those big brown heart-melting eyes. That’s when we can feel your energy knowing we’re both connected and any stress melts away. There’s no better feeling in the world.

Thank you, Salem, for being the dog that helped to change us into better people and who in turn have helped make a difference for so many other animals in our community.

That’s a gift worth celebrating!


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