I didn’t really know her.

My only interaction with her was no longer than two minutes, but the impact she has had on Whisper will last a lifetime.

They met through a shared love of dogs.

She and her husband opened their home and hearts to all sorts of rescued animals over the years. Never having children of their own, they turned to their small community in Ohio, where they gave children an opportunity to train and show dogs in the 4-H program.

They lived a simple life- from what I know. Everything they had along with all of their time and energy was poured into helping animals and children in their community. They rescued dogs and other animals, and in doing so, enriched the lives of many.

Whisper met Sal and her husband Pete at a dog trial they were hosting in Ohio.

Over the past five years, they have showered Whisper with attention and praise.

At Christmas and on her birthday, Whisper looked forward to the hand written letters which were penned in cursive (a writing form foreign to today’s youth).

When  Whisper celebrated her fifteenth birthday a week ago, a package arrived from Pete and Sal. Whisper scooped up the box and took it to the safety of her room to open privately. Later she shared the contents – A $20 bill which she felt was far too extravagant, and a stuffed, red horse. We both smiled as we looked at the whimsical toy, puzzled by the fact that it was a horse- not a dog. The horse was relegated to the floor, where Whisper keeps the majority of her belongings. It sat untouched for nearly two weeks.

On the evening that we learned of Sal’s passing, I saw Lina, (pictured), carrying the red horse in her mouth. Knowing that the horse would now carry significant meaning for Tessa, I took it and placed it on top of a dresser, where the tag on the toy caught my eye. DOG TOY. Pete and Sal had not sent the red horse for Whisper, but rather it was a toy for Whisper to share with her dog.

People and animals. Both share space in the hearts of Pete and Sal.

If we measure the successfulness of life by the impact a person has on others-

Sal lived a fulfilled life.

It doesn’t take riches or worldly success to make a difference. All that is needed is a heart of gold, a desire to effect change, and the determination to do so.

Sal and Pete embody all of these traits. And if what I believe to be is true, Pete will continue on with the work that gives life meaning to him.

As was beautifully and simplistically  said by Whisper,

“Heaven has gained a beautiful angel.”