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Man makes sacrifice to give his 2 best friends a better life
Diesel, left, and Pipet take a break in Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park with Barbara Eaton on their long journey back to Logan. - photo by Steve Eaton
A few weeks ago I wrote a column that paid tribute to our dog Sundance who was struck by a car and killed late last month. I now have a part two to that column.

Sundance was a Basenji and it turns out Basenji owners online are a very close-knit group. Basenji owners started sharing my column with their friends and I began receiving emails of support and encouragement from as far away as Sweden.

Even though we live in Sweden with our two Basenjis, we still feel the pain as if it flew across the ocean and found us, a kind woman wrote.

The emails really helped. It never occurred to me that so many others would empathize with what we were going through.

The most unusual life-changing email, however, came from a man who lives in Tucson, Arizona, named David Davis. He was moved by the column and wondered if we would adopt his two Basenjis. His health is failing and his doctors have told him he does not have long to live. He had been worried about how he would care for his dogs as it got harder for him to get around and had been concerned about what might happen to them if he died. For months, he had been wrestling with the feeling that he should find a home for them while he could.

So, he made his offer, and, after many emails and several long phone calls, we decided we would adopt them. We were excited at the prospect of having two new dogs to help us cope with our loss but we were also worried about what this would do to him.

We learned that because of a number of clearly unjust turns in his life, he found himself without much of a nearby support network. He says he has no close friends or family nearby. He had moved to Tucson in hopes he could find some relief for some of the many aliments that are wearing him down.

Many of you may not know this but every city in Arizona is required by law to be south of St. George. That means many of them are hotter than St. George. When we went through Phoenix, for example, they were evacuating the city because the temperature had reached 118 degrees.

Tucson was a cool 107 degrees, but we checked into an air conditioned hotel anyway. Then we went to meet our dogs. These are very smart dogs who were very suspicious of us at first and not at all like our last Basenji, Sundance. They had lived a simple life with our new Tucson friend, a life where money was in short supply but love was not.

The Grand Canyon was impressive but not nearly as remarkable as the love we witnessed as this strong man said tearful goodbyes to his best friends and watched us lead them away to our car. They didnt understand they were saying goodbye to the man who had cared for them for years.

It was a long ride back, but the dogs never complained and now they seem to enjoy their new home. Nine-year-old Pipet is sort of like an incumbent senator who has been there and done that. She likes to be in charge, keep things mellow, quiet, take naps and really would rather not be told to do much of anything if it doesnt involve getting treats or going on a walk (think junket for a senator).

Diesel is a very friendly and kind-hearted dog who seems to have been born to appear in action-oriented Mountain Dew commercials. We cannot give him access to credit cards because he would use his money to go skydiving, rock climbing and perhaps even whitewater rafting. Mountain biking might prove challenging, but I wouldnt put it past him. When he sees other dogs he immediately drops flat to the ground so they cant possibly see him and we assume he would completely take them down if he wasnt on a leash. He probably should have been named Jet Fuel instead of Diesel.

And wheres the happy part of the story where I tell you that David was asked to be on the "Ellen DeGeneres Show" and given enough cash that he could go to Disneyworld, get cured and adopt 101 dalmatians? That part is just not happening. David says he cries a lot, talks to his dogs even though they are not there and wishes things were different. Thats exactly where I was a few weeks ago before he contacted me. I didnt want him to have to go through that so Ive offered to return the dogs to him several times but he firmly believes he is doing what must be done for his only true friends in the world.

So, if you ever go through Tucson and see a tall bald-headed man with tattoos on his arms and legs, who looks like he could hold his own as an action-movie hero if he werent crying so much, thats David. Take him out to lunch. And listen as he talks. This is no ordinary man. We are reminded of his strength every time we see Pipet and Diesel and are humbled to realize that because of David, these are no ordinary dogs.
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