One of the first and one of the only times I've ever seen my dad cry was the day we lost our Chico. I was 14 or 15 and I drove with Dad on the trip to the vet that we knew would be Chico's last.
Chico was an Alaskan malamute, from a breeder, but the runt. As a pup, he wasn't a dog that a breeder could sell and I know that he and my dad had an immediate connection. I remember a story my dad once told about training Chico. He'd been told by someone that these were big dogs that needed to be taught to respect their owner. Dad had taken a long, thin willow branch...a switch...to "teach" that respect. The first time Dad had gone to use it, this 180lb dog caught Dad's wrist in his mouth. Chico caught it gently, and without ever breaking the skin, he pulled Dad to the ground so that they were face to face. They looked each other in the eye until both had learned to trust one another.
I like to think that that was one of those moments that set Dad on his journey to who he is today...a very different man to the one I remember from that day. I think his connection with his "best friend" is what got him through what must have been a very difficult time. And now, as a rescue dog owner myself, in know the pain losing a pet can bring you.
But I also know how much that unconditional love can rescue both sides. One of the first and one of the only times I've ever seen my dad cry was the day we lost our Chico. Chico rescued me too that day because I started to learn that my Dad was human too.