Puppy love helps man heal

Special Reports

(NEWS10) — Brendan Wiltse shares something in common with all of us. He has loved and lost pets he adored, yet somehow finds the strength to risk his heart again.

Two years ago, I drove three hours north and then took a boat ride to a remote island in Lake Champlain. I was there to meet Brendan and his special dog Khyber. The truth about Khyber was, he was dying of cancer. Brendan took him to the island for his final days, to celebrate his life. By doing something fun and different each day, he called the “Bonus Days.”

Brendan Wiltse’s dog Khyber.

Brendan described it this way, “We got to go hiking together, we make sure he goes swimming, paddling all things he loves doing. Celebrating the time, he has left.”

His story on Khyber caught fire on social media and soon people all over the world were following Brendan and Khyber’s adventures. His attitude, of being happy to have Khyber, not mourning his days left, inspired people. Sadly, on October 4 of 2019, Khyber died on Bonus Day 87.

Brendan vowed not to get another dog for at least a year, but he and his partner Shelly found themselves in a shelter in Vermont.

“There was a puppy there who was born under a trailer in South Carolina. All his littermates were adopted right away but the last dog of the dozen puppies born was not. Nobody wanted him”, Brendan added.

Niko the puppy
Niko was adopted after he was born in South Carolina.

The dog was transported to the shelter in Vermont right before Brendan visited. As he put it, “I took one look at him, met him and thirty minutes later he was sitting on the lap of Shelly, on his way to our home in the Adirondacks.”

We visited Brendan and his new puppy, Niko, at his home in Saranac Lake.

“He’s nothing at all like Khyber”, Brendan observes, “All he does is run and play.”

The moment Brendan brought the puppy home he got an idea, “I don’t know if anyone has ever taken a picture of a dog every day of his or her life.”

So, Brendan did. Each day on his Facebook page, his thousands of followers see Niko doing something fun and it reminds them of Khyber and the message to make every day count.

Brendan says the moment you love a pet, you risk breaking your heart, but the love they share is worth it.

“It’s okay, to be sad when you lose them, but try to celebrate every moment you have with them.”

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