If your kiss turned me to stone

I’d be a statue standing tall in Ancient Rome

And if your touch shattered me like glass

I’d be in pieces trying to make the breaking last…

There’s just some things that leave a man no choice

Like a compass needle needing its true North

Even if I knew the day we met you’d be the reason this heart breaks

Oh, I’d love you anyway –

Luke Combs, Lyrics from “Love you Anyway”

His war and my war different, yet both of us experienced the same. Both of us have known loss and inescapable pain. He may not have held the hand of a comrade taking his last breath. Yet he knew the feeling of a shield starting to cover his heart when a cage was his bed. He may not have longed for silence when the spray of ammo was deafening. But he knew the pain of silence when his neighbors stopped their lonely howls for sleep. We both knew the struggle to close our eyes for fear of memories; both of us with images that reinforced we weren’t “good for anything.” On one level, I knew I was fulfilling my sacred oath to serve and protect. Yet on another, I felt I was failing for each heartbeat that would not know what it was to resurrect. On one level, his purpose to love unconditionally would not let him lose the faith; but not being wanted was eroding his spirit away.

My dear Tracer,

The words above my first written words after you let your dad know it would be ok.  That he could trust he was safe to share his and your story with me. 

The very first story now found in Hope Has a Cold Nose.

Did I ever tell you, Tracer, that you entered my life just a few short weeks after I had made a vow to a dying friend that I would find a way to carry her life forward in every step I took?   That I would find a way to shine her bright, radiant Light of hope? 

I didn’t have a chance to tell you that another book of veteran – battle buddy (aka service dog) life stories is in manuscript development.   Based on how all is flowing, Best First Day is on track for publication in the early part of 2024. 

Tracer, it is because you told your dad it would be ok. 

Because, true to your gift of hearing hearts even when they don’t vocalize words out loud.   True to your gift of your soul that could see beyond the moment your dad, you, and I were standing together while your dad was discerning to answer yes or no.  True to the gift of YOU knowing your reason for your time on Earth which had a purpose to cast a very large ripple of hope. 

You opened your ears to hear my heart.   Your soul could see what my soul was seeking before I could see what was seeking me.   Because you knew that in fulfilling your number one mission to guide your dad to a hope-filled life would come to mean that together, you and your dad would fulfill your life purpose to be a beacon of hope.

Tracer, far wider and further than I believe you and I can see, ripples of hope are casting towards many drifting on the waves of hopelessness.  

Because of you.

I write this with the girls curled so tightly against my left and right sides, my wrists bend at awkward angles to reach the keyboard.   Ginger is usually content to curl up next to her sister as a bookend to me on Kutana’s other side.   As soon as I started writing to you, Ginger insisted her and Kutana should be my bookends. 

You are still hearing hearts even though there is additional space now added in between.  Thank you for letting them know writing to you is not easy.

Even if I knew the day we met you’d be the reason my heart would fill with tears…

There is a place in my heart Tracer, five pools of water, filled to the brim.  Each pool is an indented basin from an imprint of one of the pads of your paw where you stepped.  Permanent stamping that time will not erase. 

Each person we meet is puzzle pieces to complete the picture of our lives.  Tracer, you are one of the border pieces of the picture of mine. 

I am going to use those pools of water, Tracer.   From the pools of your pawed print, I will cast ripples of hope into the world.   I will continue to further the ripples you initially cast.   I vow dear Tracer, I will carry your life forward through me. 


Since I have already witnessed how you spoke to Ginger and Kutana as I write to you, I’m counting on you to continue doing what you started when writing you and your dad’s life story that evolved into Hope has a Cold Nose.   And now Best First Day.  Please continue to send those who need hope my way, ok?   I can’t help thinking how you have such a bigger vantage point now to see who needs the lifelines. 



You’ve always been good at knowing what is ok.  

Hey Tracer, if you haven’t crossed paths with them yet, team up with Peppi, Hans, and Roo.  Three additional paw prints that comprise my heartbeats.  They love helping me advocate for the unconditional healing power – and hope-filled living capability – of cold noses.  They will love you being part of the team.

Something tells me you will get to meet Yana, too.  After all, you both share similar Lights.

Even if I knew the day we met you’d be the reason…

A heart overflowing in gratitude that when we met your eyes looked into mine, then your dad’s and said,

It’s ok.

Dear Tracer,




2 thoughts on “DEAR TRACER, ALWAYS. LOVE, ME

  1. Thank you for this absolutely beautiful remembrance. This truly warms my heart. I know Tracer will always be with us.

    1. ALWAYS! 💙

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