If this story doesn’t do it for you, nothing will.

— Kenn

ROCKFORD – Most dog owners will tell you their pets are like family, so having to give one up can be heartbreaking. That was especially true for one hospice patient. But some Heartland Hospice workers were able to track down the missing pet and reunite him with his former owner.

The tears started falling right away as Earl, 67, saw his old dog Teddy for the first time in more than a year. That was when Earl’s health had started to deteriorate. He had had a stroke and is battling emphysema and dementia. His family had to give up the dog after to move him into long-term care.

“I would have never given him up,” says Earl.

Teddy had been a gift from his now-deceased wife. He got the dog after his stroke and he says Teddy was always very protective of him. Earl says the dog was more than a pet to both him and his wife.

“Him and the kitty-cat were our children,” says Earl.

His heartbreak over Teddy is what prompted his hospice workers to start looking for the dog. Teddy had gone to another family through a shelter but the organization had a policy not to give out information on the new owners. But Heartland Hospice was able to convince the place, then his new owners that even just a few minutes with his old dog would mean a world of difference to Earl.

“At this time things look pretty grim to him. He’s at a new facility, he’s not at his home anymore, he doesn’t have his dog. His wife passed away approximately two years ago. He’s grieving a lot of things. And I thought if I could put a smile on his face just temporarily it would do him some good,” says Tirah Brown, Heartland Hospice social worker.

Teddy now lives with a Rockford family that includes a little girl. Earl gave them the blanket Teddy had slept on since he was a puppy.