by Simba L. Sherf
Hey there, my name is Simba. I turned 10 on 10/10/10, but left this world passing over the Rainbow Bridge less than a month later. I know it was all very sudden, as that nasty tumor in my tummy burst, but who knew? I just wanted to let you know that I was not in much pain, and I’m glad I didn’t linger for days or weeks because this new place is really, really cool.

There are no leashes, and you get to run after a ball, sniff other dogs, chew on bones and romp in the water whenever you want. But I really do miss my human pack dearly. I also miss chasing groundhogs in our big backyard, the trips we took in our little cabin on wheels, our daily romps over at Carson Valley or through Fort Washington State Park and having my two-legged pals throw the ball to me over and over and over again. Thank you.

Good old Sparky is here, along with Bear, Lenny, Lennon, Samantha, Taffy, Max, Sadie and all the other good dogs we have met along the way. They came running up to me and brought me over the Rainbow Bridge.

I was reluctant to go at first, but they assured me that my two-legged housemates had each other to get through some rough days, and I really didn’t want to go through emergency surgery and months of suffering. So I thought I’d better follow the dog pack and leave my human pack while the going was good.  Isn’t that what you taught me? Live well, love much, laugh often.

I know you saw that rainbow on Monday around sunset, as you made your way to bury me back by the shed. For a minute I was afraid you all might miss it, but you saw it and knew what it meant, and everybody gathered around to stare at it. I guess you guys are pretty smart. Hey, you adopted me; didn’t ya.

I’m glad Barb went back to the animal hospital and brought me home, and Louie and Pete were able to help you guys bury me right near the spot where the groundhogs hide out, and that Jon and Gina were there to say goodbye and sit with you that first night.

And I keep whispering to Susan and your other human friends to keep checking in on you, and I’m glad they do. You should also know that I am looking over your shoulders, and I read all of the e-mails that went back and forth, and I’m really glad you have a lot of understanding animal lovers in your lives.

Simba was part of the Pals for Life pet therapy program, which takes pets to bring a little sunshine into the lives of residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities. This photo was taken at Stapley Healthcare in Germantown. Sylvia (seen here), a blind woman who has since passed away, used to say, “Simba, I like dogs better than I like people.” Also seen here is Simba’s dad, Brad Shapiro.

That one e-mail from Robin Adams of the Delaware Valley Golden Retriever Rescue got to me when she said that of the hundreds of dogs who passed through their doors, I really stood out. I guess it helped that I had a mistress who is a publicist and writer and a master who is an ace photographer.

I was really proud to serve as Poster Pup for DVGRR and held my head high at every opportunity to do right by those nice folks. Just look at that publicity photo we took for the Golden Gala fundraiser. Remember how many takes it took to get that one shot? I do. 149.

Thank God for digital cameras and sweet Bridgette. She was a great doggy date! But don’t tell her that. I don’t want her to get a swelled head. I really enjoyed my time with Maggie May in more recent years. She was a great gal, and we wouldn’t have gotten to know Tim and Melody and taken our cabin on wheels to West Virginia three times in the past five years if it wasn’t for sweet Maggie. On that last trip, I think she was impressed (and maybe even a bit jealous) that I had my own business cards.

Leave it to my two-legged housemates to come up with the idea of making cards with my picture on them and passing them out to people on the trail. It was such a neat idea that the Rescue folks printed their own cards, and now there are lots of them out there touting the fact that they have a lot of other great dogs waiting to be adopted. You guys are really smart, but we already know that cause you adopted me! Or did I already say that?

Anyway, I had the best six years with my pack, so stop beating yourselves up over missing signs you thought you should have seen that I was sick. I was happy romping in the park and even going in the creek the morning that I passed away. Remember?  Yeah, I was a bit mopey later in the day, but I really wasn’t in a lot of pain, and if I was, I wouldn’t have wanted to worry you guys…that’s just my nature.

I know you were talking about being really sad as you leave for Florida this winter without me…but don’t be. Take some time to travel and be with each other, and when you are ready, go up to the Rescue and give another dog a great ‘forever’ home.

I know you can’t replace me, if I do say so myself; I was quite the character, but there is another furry friend out there waiting for you. I know so. We can see these things from up here. And when your time comes, I will have two balls in my mouth like I did when you took that other neat picture of me, and we won the calendar contest. I will drop one at your feet, and you will throw it and follow me over the bridge.  It’ll be that easy; I promise.

Until then, keep looking at that plaque you have on the wall that says: Live well, love much, laugh often.  As a pack, we practiced that motto every day, and I hope you will continue to do so. You must. That’s our pack promise.

Tail wags and doggy slobber.

Until we meet again.

Your special guy, Simba

(Ed. Note: Simba lived with Barbara Sherf and Brad Shapiro in Flourtown. For more photos, visit www.CommunicationsPro.com/blog.  For more information on the Delaware Valley Golden Retriever Rescue, visit www.dvgrr.org