Adopted Dog Helps Family Through Grief, Paw in Paw

When Kierstin’s husband was diagnosed with cancer, Thaddeus was there to bring smiles in the midst of the storm.

Kierstin + Thaddeus

For Kierstin and her husband, their pup Thaddeus was a much-loved part of their family. As her husband battled cancer, Thaddeus was there with his unconditional love to lend a helping paw.

"Thaddeus brought joy when there was grief, he replaced tears with smiles, and he lessoned pain both physically and mentally."

Adopted Dog Thaddeus

Seven years ago, my husband and I adopted our pup Thaddeus from Companion Pet Rescue. He’s an adorable Basset/Labrador mix and he quickly became a central part of our lives.

Adopted Dog Thaddeus

Besides normal walks around the neighborhood and trips to the dog park, we started hiking with our dog, taking him on vacations to Cape Cod and Vermont, and even took him on our honeymoon: a road trip to Florida. Friends joked that we bought our house for our dog with its fenced-in lawn and convenient location to our local dog park! We loved spending time with him, and receiving kisses when we came home from work was frequently the highlight of our days.

Adopted Dog Thaddeus

Two years ago, the unthinkable happened. In July 2017, my husband came home from work delirious and disoriented. I rushed him to the hospital where he received emergency surgery for a brain tumor. Once he recovered, he was diagnosed with Stage IV metastatic bladder cancer. Our fight began and through it all Thaddeus stayed by my husband’s side. As time went on, my husband’s health improved. He was able to go to the dog park with Thaddeus and take him for walks on the bike path near our home. They were side-by-side 24/7 for a year. One of our favorite memories was attending a Companion Pet Rescue reunion in the fall. It was a beautiful day in October 2017, and Thaddeus got to play with other rescue alum. We even got
him a hot dog on our way home!

Adopted Dog Thaddeus

Unfortunately, my husband’s partial remission was short-lived, and cancer came back with a vengeance in February 2018. He was frequently bedridden due to extreme pain from cancer in his bones. Most nights I had to sleep in the guest room to keep from bumping into my husband or causing him any discomfort. But even though Thaddeus is a mama’s boy, he frequently slept with my husband to keep him company. The last month of my husband’s life was spent hospitalized. Fortunately, I was able to bring Thaddeus for visits. No matter how bad a day my husband was having, Thaddeus would be able to bring a smile to his face. But our love was not enough. On July 2, 2018, my husband lost his battle to cancer.

I know in my heart that if it were not for our rescue dog, our days would have been even greyer than they already were. Thaddeus brought joy when there was grief, he replaced tears with smiles, and he lessoned pain both physically and mentally. I know Thaddeus misses my husband as much as I do, but today we find consolation in each other’s company. This small piece of comfort is all thanks to Companion Pet Rescue, and I will forever be indebted to this miracle on four legs that has kept my heart from completely breaking.

Each year, the Petco Foundation invites adopters to share the story of how their adopted pet changed their lives during the annual Holiday Wishes campaign, giving the organization that they adopted from a chance to receive a grant award. This story by Kierstin won Companion Pet Rescue & Transport in Jackson, Tennessee a 2019 Holiday Wishes award.