Less than six months ago, Kip and Barrett McLaughlin went through any pet owner's worst nightmare.
During a weekend away at a cabin in Gatlinburg, Tennessee with their three dogs, tragedy struck the McLaughlins while they were out for dinner. During the few hours they were gone, a wildfire spread through the forest.
As the McLaughlins were returning from dinner they were stopped and told the area was being evacuated and no one could return to their homes. They feared for their dog's lives, but it wasn't until the next day that these fears were confirmed - none of their senior dogs had survived the fire.
Support poured in from friends, family, and the entire community but there was still a hole in the McLaughlins' hearts and home. While still mourning the loss of their dogs, the couple knew they were ready to help more dogs in need.
They looked at numerous rescues, but when they found Dudley that they knew he was the one. The nine-year-old black Pug with faded white fur around his eyes was officially adopted December 20, 2016, but the McLaughlins weren't done there.
After looking at a few Boxer rescues they added a pair of bonded sisters to their family in January 2017. While the couple fondly describe these two as "a handful" they wouldn't have it any other way.
"It's definitely a lot better to have footsteps back in the house that aren't mine or Barrett's," Kip told News and Advance.
"Having the puppy breath and the reason to get out of bed in the morning ... it's definitely nice to have the companionship back."
While the mourning process can take time, Kip wants grieving pet owners to understand that there's light at the end of the tunnel and that there will be a time to open their hearts and home to a new pet again.
Have you lost a pet? Do you have any suggestions for the grieving process? Tell us in the comments below.
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