A Tribute to the Best Friend I’ve Ever Had

Three years ago, today, my best friend in all the world, Harmony, passed away.

My former wife, Deanna found our sweet girl when she was an 8-week old, 100% deaf bouncy, bratty, beautiful Boston Terrier. My perfect puppy would go on to change and impact my life in the most unimagined and wondrous ways.

The essay below is the tribute I wrote to my girl on the day she passed, April 9, 2016, and I share it here to acknowledge the greatness of not just my dog, but of dogs everywhere.

You left today and went to that place I do not yet know.

You took with you the sunshine and my smile.

Life seems gray without you, heaven that much further away.

For more than 15 years you have been my best friend and always partner. Where I was, there you were too, both my light and my shadow.

You were born a deaf puppy, but you listened to me in ways few ever will. We communicated without sound and instead spoke to one another with our hearts.

You loved me with an uninhibited devotion, absent conditions, and I will miss everything about you.

I will miss the excitement I felt every time I pulled up to the house; the mere thought of uniting with you causing my soul to smile.

I will miss walking in the door, and on those occasions when you were asleep, how your head would pop up the moment the scent of me awakened you from a deep slumber.

I will miss the way you then would run forward, diving headfirst into my chest, trying with all your might to climb into my skin, nibbling at my clothes as you burrowed in closer.

I will miss the way you would follow me no matter where I went, and once there position your body to protect me from harm.

I will miss the way you refused to eat the same meal on back to back days, insisting that a wide variety of food be served, not just put in front of you.

I will miss the way you would rush to find me, then turn and dash towards the kitchen where your cookie jar was, spinning back around to make sure I was close behind. The message was clear; “Poppa, it’s time for a treat!”

I will miss your crazy obsession with hoses and sprinklers, and your selfless commitment to rid the world of their evil conspiracy.

I will miss the high pitched shrill of your voice, your, “bark like you just don’t care” manner of living, and the confidence and pride that oozed from every pore of your being.

I will miss hearing the jingle of the tags on your collar. The sound told me where you were when I couldn’t see you; my heart then relieved knowing you were safe and close at hand.

I will miss the way you would paw at me, asking to carry you down and then back up the stairs when your heart grew weary and forgot what it was supposed to do.

It was in those precious moments I could hold you close, your soft fur upon my skin, your face next to mine, your whiskers tickling me. It was then I could whisper in your ear how much I loved and adored you, knowing you could hear my words by how they felt.

I will miss the gentle sound of your breathing when you laid your head in that space just below my chin; me and you, best friends, connected at the heart, rising and falling together as we matched breaths and held on tight to one another.

I will miss your quirky, unique, and magnificent ways of being, the sight of your gorgeous profile, your beautiful face, the way the black and the white of your coat blended together perfectly, and the smell of your fur after you lay in the sun.

I will miss covering you up with one of my worn t-shirts, kissing you goodbye, and always letting you know when I would be back.

I will miss the way you would comfort me when my depression had me by the throat, reminding me who I really was when my illness had me forget.

I am sure you have already been welcomed at the Rainbow Bridge. I know the multitude of animals that came to live and then pass with dignity at the sanctuary where we lived are lined up to give thanks for the way you befriended and loved them.

You have earned a special place of honor amongst the many there, and there is most certainly a flock gathered at your feet to hear your many stories.

Life is less without you, and the silence hurts. I fear my days may always be cloudy; the sun never to fully shine again.

But I promise you, my sweet angel girl, that I will forever hold you in the very center of who I am, and I will never let you go. And, one day we will be reunited; side by side, fur to the skin, heart to heart, never to be separated again.

I love you, Harmony.


  • David Bartley

    Mental Health Speaker, Trainer, Writer, and Coach

    Like most people, David Woods Bartley has seen his fair share of successes and setbacks; from directing a nationally recognized nonprofit to battling a life-threatening mental illness. But over the last seven years, David has successfully navigated from the isolation of mental “hellness” to the inclusive space of mental wellness. Currently, David is a member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the International Association for Youth Mental Health, the National Storytelling Network’s Healing Story Alliance, and Active Minds. David holds certifications in Mental Health First Aid for Adults and Youth, SafeTALK (Suicide Awareness for Everyone), and is a national trainer for the groundbreaking suicide prevention technique known as QPR (Question, Persuade and Refer). David has been invited to speak before a wide range of audiences across the United States, giving keynote speeches and leading workshops on a variety of aspects of mental health, including suicide awareness and prevention, the power of connection to create hope, and the use of language as a tool for healing. In addition to giving a TEDx talk in the fall of 2018, David has been invited to present to organizations such as the United States Food and Drug Administration, the Army Corps of Engineers, Novartis, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, Lyft, Sutter Health, Vision Service Plan, the University of Connecticut, the California Northstate School of Medicine, UC Davis, Sacramento State, William Jessup University, along with various faith denominations, law enforcement agencies and community organizations at the local, state and national level. David’s goal for each speech and workshop is the same: to shed light on the issue of mental illness, teach people how to leverage curiosity to overcome our fears and use connection to create hope. David's website is www.davidwoodsbartley.com