Tom and Connee Prettyman decided to rescue another dog on New Year’s Day, three years ago, The photo below is of them shortly after meeting Petey at Pasado’s Safe Haven in Monroe, Washington.
Connee had been spending a lot of time on the computer, those days and when she saw a photo of Petey online, she was battling aggressive breast cancer, and Tom was taking care of her. Online was the only way Connee could keep up with her friends.
“On January 1, 2015, Connee saw the picture of Petey on the computer,” Tom said. “She saw his face and said, ‘I want him!'”
Tom and Connee had just found out that the cancer, which had previously gone into remission, spread to her brain. They believed she would be a cancer survivor, and they now realized that they had to make each day count.
Despite being difficult for Connee to travel, she was determined to meet this little Chihuahua who had been found on the streets and brought to Pasado’s Safe Haven. The couple drove two hours to meet Petey and adopt him.
“Connee wanted a mate for Vida, her little PomChi,” Tom explained. The couple, at that time, also had Shiloh, a big dog who was already over 13 years old. Connee was worried that when Shiloh passed away, and she herself was gone, Vida would be by herself. “She wanted to get Vida a friend. And Petey was that guy.”
The couple knew each other almost all their lives but had not been together very long. They were born just three days apart in January 1953. Tom likes to say that their souls came to earth at almost the exact same time.
“In 2011, I had gotten divorced and I ended up reconnecting with Connee through a Facebook group,” Tom said. “On July 7, 2012, I knelt down in the surf and asked her to marry me. And in April 2013, she found a lump in her breast. The cancer was already underway.”
They moved up their wedding date, and Connee began treatment. “I was able to work from home with her and take care of her,” Tom said.
The couple remained positive for each other. “You have to have hope. You constantly remain on the positive side of life for as long as you possibly can,” Tom said. He and Connee wrote inspirational sayings all over their mirror to stay strong.
The house was full of love even as Connee’s time was running out. “Petey and Vida never left her side the entire time,” Tom said.
The dogs were very protective of Connee and refused to leave her side. She passed on October 22, 2015. “They were in her lap when she passed away,” Tom said. “And they knew. They stood guard over her for as long as they could.”
Shiloh passed away of old age after Connee was gone, but Petey and Vida snuggled up to Tom. Now they sleep in bed with him every night. And even though Connee isn’t there, Tom still feels like she’s near.
“It was a special journey, as short as it was for us. It was a fairytale to have fallen in love after all those years,” Tom said. “Now, I’m surrounded by her love every day. The memories will last a lifetime. We realized that we were each other’s soulmate.”
Every year, on January 1, the anniversary of the day Connee declared that she had to adopt Petey, Tom writes Pasado’s Safe Haven a little note of thanks. This year was no exception: “Three years ago today … my wife who was battling metastatic breast cancer that spread to her brain, found our beautiful Petey online at Pasado’s Safe Haven, to be a companion for our PomChi Vida, and we fell in love with him. Though my wife passed from cancer that same year … Petey and Vida were there by her side until the end … Thank you, Pasado’s, for rescuing him from the Kitsap County Humane Society so he could find his forever home with us!”
Tom has a new tattoo on his hand that says, “My story isn’t over.” He is planning a trip to Iceland in March with a new friend. It will be the first time traveling out of the country, at age 65. Ever since he served in the military, on a U.S. submarine, when he was 17, Tom has learned that “you never know what you can do, until you actually go do it.”
Connee helped give Tom the strength he needed, and he hopes her story will encourage others to adopt animals in need. “She was an amazing woman. She made me laugh every day, even when she had cancer,” Tom said. “I never would have traded that for anything.”
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