a girl and her dog


kimbo was the first dog i ever adopted on my own and if i had to choose one picture to sum up our relationship, it would be the one below that my boyfriend took of us this past new year’s eve just as he entered his 18th year… 

this is how i will always remember kimbo. 

our story started with my visit to best friends animal sanctuary in 2009…


9 months later kimbo showed up at my doorstep…

a few months later, best friends called to do a story on us and i found out kimbo had a following…a facebook page with close to 500 followers. i decided to continue his story to share his happy ending. many people reached out to me with their stories about meeting kimbo, or how his story inspired them to adopt a senior dog… he even had two friends come to visit him!

adopting a 15 year old dog is a lot of work. it’s not for everyone, but for those of us who’ve taken in senior animals, we are greatly rewarded with a special kind of love. you don’t take a minute for granted. kimbo and i packed in a lot of outings and memories in our 971 days together…

the ballpark for a fundraiser…

several trips to the beach…



a family trip to the outer banks. this shot will always crack me up. it’s just how we roll. 

his smile is ridiculous in this picture…

kimbo loved his exercise. if we weren’t taking walks outside, he was doing his kimbo 500 in the house. 




and i spent a lot of time hugging and kissing him…




and of course…he loved his naps…



if i thought i had ever felt adored before in my life, i was wrong. kimbo took adoration to a whole new level. anyone that spent time with kimbo and i would quickly see our bond. he was an old dog and couldn’t see or hear very well and as time went on his sight and hearing only got worse, but that dog could find me…
wherever i was…
 so he could be by my side…

i often grabbed iphone shots of his dedication to being near me…


if he could have gotten in the tub with me, he would have. instead he just waited patiently for me…



i spent a lot of time lying with kimbo and cuddling him. you could often find me on the floor lying right next to him, looking in his eyes and telling him how he was the best dog in the world…


and in his last days when he’d done his last kimbo 500 and his strength had dwindled…

i went to him…

i stayed by his side for days. i barely slept or ate. i skipped showers and workouts so i wouldn’t have to leave his side. nothing else mattered to me, but being with him the way he had always been there for me. 

and when i knew he was done, i pulled him in close to me and cradled him like a baby and looked in his eyes and told him how much i loved him and that he had proven his strength and it was ok to go… and while it brought me solace to know it was his time and he was so peaceful, it still tore my heart apart to let him go.

i miss him dearly.

we were strangers when he showed up at my doorstep, but i told him he would be my forever dog. forever mine. kimbo and shelly, forever and always. 

and somehow… 
without even realizing it…
 we went from being strangers to sharing a piece of our hearts with one another and forever began sounding like it wasn’t long enough…

and that is how you know it is love… 

when forever isn’t long enough. 

  • April 18, 2013 - 11:24 pm

    KtF - I wish this blog came with tissues.ReplyCancel

  • April 18, 2013 - 11:38 pm

    Mickey - This is a beautiful love story. What a life you’ve made with one another. It will always be forever.ReplyCancel

  • April 18, 2013 - 11:52 pm

    spazzers - <3 I feel the same way about my Benny.

    we were strangers when he showed up at my doorstep, but i told him he would be my forever dog. forever mine. kimbo and shelly, forever and always.

    and somehow…
    without even realizing it…
    we went from being strangers to sharing a piece of our hearts with one another and forever began sounding like it wasn’t long enough…

    and that is how you know it is love…

    when forever isn’t long enough.ReplyCancel

  • April 18, 2013 - 11:57 pm

    Anonymous - What KtF said. As a caregiver for Best Friends (in Cat World), where you are honored to receive the love of so many and to bear witness to their passings, you think your heart can’t cry anymore. You think you’ve learned to handle the voyages over the Rainbow Bridge. But your love story made me cry … and I thank you.ReplyCancel

  • April 19, 2013 - 12:09 am

    Beth Reis - Thank you for sharing your love story with Kimbo. You were each blessed to have found each other. He will always be with you. True love never dies. I am very sorry for your loss.ReplyCancel

  • April 19, 2013 - 12:59 am

    Denise Legel - Kimbo couldn’t have asked for a better person to share a piece of his heart with! I’m amazed at how many lives he touched and am so grateful to you for continuing to share his story with all of his fans. The love you gave him was what everyone had dreamed of for him. Thank you for giving him the best days of his life. The story you wrote was beautiful. I can’t imagine how much your heart aches right now. Our thoughts and prayers are with you Michelle.ReplyCancel

  • April 19, 2013 - 1:30 am

    heidi - michelle, my friend Deb came home from her first trip out there and couldn’t share enough pics of Kimbo…have looked at so many pics of him over the past couple years…you are soo lucky he found you! having lost my kitty Izzy McGoo not so long ago my heart hurts for you…we adopted two new bebes with her blessing along with the two bassett hounds deb talked us into years ago…we take them into our hearts knowing that time is precious…you will be in my thoughts for the wonderful person you are!
    ReplyCancel

  • April 19, 2013 - 2:32 am

    Kellieb - What a beautiful story. I believe I had the pleasure of meeting Kimbo at Best Friends!! I volunteer there yearly.Thank you for adopting Kimbo And giving him such an amazing life!ReplyCancel

  • April 19, 2013 - 3:30 am

    Anonymous - i will never forget how incredibly happy all us Kimbo followers were to see that you adopted him, he so deserved the loving home, kisses, hugs, and fun tmes in his final years. the rewards of adopting senior dogs is more than i can put into words. i did alot of “wish i would have found you sooner to love you longer”, but such is life sometimes, and my old adoptees have given me ten fold of what i ever could have imagined. Kimbo is really not gone, he will always be the sunshine of every new day. So very sorry, and thank you for sharing this beautiful piece with us.ReplyCancel

  • April 19, 2013 - 3:53 am

    Anonymous - My Grandma was another loving human in Kimbo’s life, her choice of Best Friends was the best choice for Kimbo and now I see why. Thank you for giving him your love. People think we own animals, when in reality, they own our hearts. So sad for your loss he was a wonderful boy, I remember playing with him in Grandma’s yard in CA.ReplyCancel

    • April 19, 2013 - 5:28 am

      michelle arlotta - when kimbo first came to me, i often wondered about his life before best friends. the one thing i knew is that he must have been very loved because he was set up to go to a place that would give him a good life and would never give up trying to find him a home. one of your grandmother’s children reached out to me months after i adopted kimbo and told me a lot more about his life back in those days. i felt so honored to know more of his story and i know your grandmother was up there waiting to give him a big old hug again. i always hoped she was smiling down on us.ReplyCancel

  • April 19, 2013 - 4:34 am

    Anonymous - A beautiful love story. Thank you for sharing it with us.

    Need to find some tissue and go hug my forever dog now.ReplyCancel

  • April 19, 2013 - 9:43 am

    Anonymous - Sending you gentle hugs and wishing you peace…Kimbo is running free…doing the “Kimbo 500” at the Bridge…and waiting patiently and lovingly for you…ReplyCancel

  • April 19, 2013 - 12:34 pm

    Anonymous - I’m so sorry for your loss Kimbo looks like the sweetest puppy ever. I too am dealing with the loss of a furry child..actually two. My girlfriend moved away and took the dogs with her. Over the past three years, I loved them more than most love their own children. Yes they are only dogs but in the same breath, they are so much more. They were my rock, an ear to listen, a kind friend to hug, an eager running partner and the best rompers on the planet. I wish I had an entire lifetime with them, for they are the kindest, gentlest creatures I have ever met. The greatest peace I can find is knowing they are still loved by the greatest puppy mommy ever and right now they are happily running, rolling, sniffing and swimming at Flathead Lake Montana, the greatest place on Earth for a dog.ReplyCancel

  • April 19, 2013 - 12:50 pm

    Anonymous - what a great life you gave him!ReplyCancel

  • April 19, 2013 - 1:25 pm

    Jill - Yours is a story of true love. Thank you so much for sharing this with the public. I love seniors, they hold a special place in my heart, and forever isn’t long enough. Thank you for loving Kimbo and seeing his value and what he had to offer you in your life. Some people just walk right on by the seniors, while I see them as a pot of gold….ReplyCancel

  • April 19, 2013 - 2:15 pm

    Rosalie Cook - What a beautiful story so sad yet so happy you had found each other.i don’t know that I’ve ever read such a beautifully written Love Story. You are an amazing person and i thank you for
    Loving your special dog.Rosalie
    ReplyCancel

  • April 19, 2013 - 7:38 pm

    Anonymous - This is so beautiful….the photos are incredible…what the two of you shared was so special. He was so lucky to have you to love him in his golden years.ReplyCancel

  • April 20, 2013 - 3:39 pm

    laura steinau - your pix, your words…
    kimbo and you beautiful
    my 2nd cry from one of your blogs

    ReplyCancel

  • April 22, 2013 - 12:42 am

    Charmaine Graham - You loved Kimbo as much as Kimbo loved you. I loved this story and was reminded of not only the incredible amount an animal can change our lives, but that there are people who give so much to the animals that do. Beautiful story. CharmaineReplyCancel

  • April 23, 2013 - 4:49 pm

    Lauren Kretzer - It took me all of 10 seconds of looking at these photos to start crying… and I don’t even know sweet Kimbo. There’s nothing like a dog’s love, is there? This is a beautiful memorial to him, Michelle. He was lucky to have you (and apparently, vice versa!)ReplyCancel

  • May 9, 2013 - 7:02 pm

    Stephanie - Wow, what an awesome story Michelle…thanks so much for sharing it with us. I need tissues now after reading this post, but they are good tears because it reminded me of a bond I had with one of my cats. How lucky both you and Kimbo were to find each other, I am sure he will be waiting at the Rainbow Bridge for you.ReplyCancel

  • July 27, 2013 - 3:56 am

    Karen Loiacono - Wilkinson - Wow! tears are just rolling- there are no words as you used every beautiful sentiment to sum up your love story. You and him were both lucky to have found eachother.
    xoxoReplyCancel

  • August 1, 2013 - 6:11 pm

    Barsinister - I followed Kimbo from being one of the older, probably unadoptable dogs at Best Friends to his wonderful life with Michelle – it was great to be able to follow his adventures and see how truly happy they were together. I will miss him also and thank Michelle for this beautiful blog/testament to a never ending love story.ReplyCancel

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