When a man walked into San Francisco’s Rocket Dog Rescue looking for a dog to adopt, he fell in love with Merrill, a three-year-old pit bull. However, the shelter faced an unexpected problem.
Merrill wouldn’t leave her best friend behind when it came time for the man to pick her up.
In 2014, Rocket Dog Rescue received a sick pit bull and a senior Chihuahua who were adamant about staying together.
The volunteer-based shelter is dedicated to saving unwanted and abused dogs, and they regularly take in dogs that have a hard time getting adopted. Their ultimate goal is to prevent dogs from being euthanized.
Merrill and Taco, an eight-year-old Chihuahua, were given up and went to Rocket Dog Rescue together. Although little was known about their previous owners, one thing was clear: the pair of dogs were the best of friends.
Every time they were separated, they would cry. All of their time was spent together. Then, one day, the shelter staff got an insight as to just how strong their bond was.
When the pair were brought in, Merrill suffered from a severe uterine tract infection, and she had to undergo surgery to save her life.
During her procedure, Taco began to act extremely anxious and distraught. Nobody knew what was wrong with him. They brought him for tests, too, fearing he had contracted a similar infection. But what was really happening was incredible.
The workers at the shelter soon realized that Taco wasn’t sick at all. He began to act restless and distraught only as Merrill went into the operating room.
When the surgery was over and Merrill was finally released, the workers had an extremely hard time isolating her. There was one big problem.
Merrill needed to be isolated so that she could heal faster, but from the moment she awoke from the anesthetic, she cried out constantly. It was in reply to Taco, who had been whining throughout her whole operation.
The workers debated over what they should do with them until they finally tried something.
The staff were amazed by the commitment these two dogs had to each other. Both Merrill and Taco cried until Taco was allowed to be brought into the recovery area with Merrill. Taco was attentive and dedicated to Merrill for the duration of her stay in recovery.
After that, the little Chihuahua didn’t leave his best friend’s side. But the staff members at the shelter were concerned that this might be ultimately detrimental to the two dogs.
The shelter knew that dogs who come in pairs like this are much more difficult to adopt, as many people aren’t ready to adopt two dogs at the same time.
So they decided to list Merrill and Taco separately on their website and hoped to find separate homes for each of them. Senior dogs are also harder to find homes for, so there was little interest in Taco. Merrill, on the other hand, was a different story.
As soon as a man came into the shelter one day looking to adopt a dog, he saw Merrill and decided she was the one. Workers at the shelter were thrilled she had finally been chosen.
The man completed all the Rocket Dog Rescue paperwork, but when the day finally came for him to pick her up, something went terribly wrong.
The man arrived at the shelter with all his new dog toys and dog leads, excited to take Merrill home. Little did he know, Merrill didn’t feel the same way.
Merrill was led out of her cage, and Taco was left inside. When the man began to lead Merrill away, she began howling and howling, and she would not stop. Suddenly, she snapped.
Merril dug her paws into the ground, refusing to move as she whined as if she was in serious pain. The man had no idea what was going on.
The staff at the shelter, however, knew exactly what was happening. It was the moment they were all afraid of, and it would cost Merrill her home.
The staff at the shelter then told the man the story of Taco and Merrill and how they were best friends and could not be separated since they arrived at their shelter.
The man felt a sudden pang of guilt. He realized that there was no way they should be separated. He agreed that it was best for them to stay together. But this wasn’t good news.
Unfortunately, the man could not adopt Merrill and Taco as he only had room for one dog. He was certain that even though Taco was small, two dogs were just too much for him to handle.
He decided to adopt a different dog instead. That was when the shelter knew they had to change their strategy.
After the scene the dogs made, Rocket Dog Rescue staff were forced to come to the conclusion that it was best for Merrill and Taco to stay together.
They changed the listing on their website from two separate dogs to a pair of dogs that could not be separated as it was deemed harmful to their well-being. It was a big gamble.
The shelter had only once or twice before managed to provide a pair of animals a home together. They knew they might have to wait a while, but what other choice did they have?
When days passed into weeks, and weeks passed into months, the shelter got seriously worried that the pair might never find their forever home.
However, the shelter never gave up hope and continued to document their special relationship on their site in the hopes of catching someone’s attention.
As they continued to wait, a wonderful volunteer named Jodi saw their posts and decided she wanted to foster the pair while they waited for a forever home. It was just the beginning.
Their foster mom, Jodi, continued to post about their adorable relationship and often sent their pictures to the shelter, which would upload them to their site.
Their heartwarming story quickly gained attention, and their loyalty toward each other wowed other dog lovers. It wasn’t long before the perfect opportunity came along and knocked at the door.
A family from San Jose fell in love with Merrill and Taco’s story when they saw the listing on the shelter’s website. They arranged a visit with Jodi to meet the two dogs and then decided that they wanted to make them a part of their family.
When it came time for Taco and Merrill to go to their new home, they were thrilled to be going together. But it was not a happy ending… yet.
Taco suffered from asthma and dental disease, as most senior dogs do, and he had only 4 teeth. These health issues appeared at first to be minor problems until his new family took him to the vet a month after he and Merrill were adopted.
Then the family got the news, and the outlook did not look good.
Unless something were done soon, Taco would suffer impending heart failure. The medical evaluation found that Taco’s heart was enlarged, and fluid surrounded his lungs.
A specialist visit was scheduled, and he was immediately put on medication. The family braced for the worst but tried to hope for the best.
Despite being on medication, Taco’s owners knew that his advanced age meant he might not recover. The family gave him a fighting chance anyway and gave him lots of love and attention. Merrill also rallied to Taco’s side and didn’t leave her best friend for a minute.
Then, incredibly, Taco’s condition seemed to begin to improve.
Taco’s condition has since stabilized, and his heart is no longer at risk. He has to take several medications for life, including anti-seizure drugs and steroids for his lungs.
He still has respiratory issues, but that doesn’t seem to stop the little Chihuahua from having fun with his human siblings and his best friend, Merrill
Merrill loves running and rolling on the grass in the family’s yard. Being a young adult means that she is extremely energetic and active. But for Taco, she’s hard to keep up with, so the kids carry him to wherever Merril is playing.
As time passed, the family began to uncover just how incredible their bond was.
To the delight of everyone who followed their story posted initially by the shelter, the family decided to create social media accounts for the pups and keep the internet updated with their daily lives.
Their Facebook page is called ‘Merrill & Taco’. And they’ve already gained a huge following!
People love to see what Merril and Taco get up to. Whether napping in hilarious positions, sitting side-by-side, displaying their unique bond, or going on walks together, their pictures always receive a tonne of love and support.
Seeing them happy together after all they’ve been through is a real tear-jerker! But another man named Antony would be brought to tears when he found out the truth about the dog he had adopted from a shelter.
No matter how hard he tried, Antony didn’t seem to click with the dog. He was just about to give up on the idea of keeping ‘Reggie.’
He had just decided to take him back to the shelter when he stumbled across something. And it was something that would change his life forever.
Antony remembered the old box the shelter had given him. Maybe there was something inside that would help.
He quickly grabbed the box and shuffled through the tattered items – an old sleeping pad, some dirty toys, and a sealed letter from the previous owner. What was inside this letter? Antony wondered. He had no idea what was coming.
Antony picked up the crisp letter and held it close to his chest. ‘Reggie’ turned and looked at Antony, his big brown eyes pulling at his heartstrings.
Antony hoped there was some useful advice inside the letter. But he could never have expected to find what he did.
“If you’re reading this, it means I just got back from my last car ride with my Lab after dropping him off at the shelter,” the letter read.
“He knew something was different. So let me tell you about my Lab in the hopes that it will help you bond with him and he with you.”
Relief washed over Antony as he continued to read the letter. This was exactly what he needed. Maybe their relationship could be salvaged?
He discovered that ‘Reggie’ loved playing with tennis balls and often tried to hoard them in his mouth. But as Antony continued reading more of the letter, he came across a warning.
“It doesn’t matter where you throw the balls. He’ll bounce after it, so be careful — really don’t do it by any roads. I made that mistake once, and it almost cost him dearly.”
Antony picked up one of the worn, green balls. Reggie jumped up, tail wagging. It was the first sign of real energy. But Antony had no idea things were about to get even more strange.
The sleeping pad worked too, and he snuggled in. There was also useful information about past training techniques. “He knows ‘ball’ and ‘food’ and ‘bone’ and ‘treat’ like nobody’s business.”
“I trained Reggie with small food treats,” the letter continued, “Nothing opens his ears like little pieces of hot dog.” But the next piece of advice that Antony read hit hard.
“Finally, give him some time. I’ve never been married, so it’s only been Reggie and me for his whole life,” the letter continued.
“He’s gone everywhere with me, so please include him on your daily car rides if you can. It will be hard. And that’s why I need to share one more bit of info with you.” Antony was not expecting what the owner would say next.
“I don’t know what made me do it, but when I dropped him off at the shelter, I told them his name was Reggie,” the letter continued.
“He’s a smart dog; he’ll get used to it and respond to it. I have no doubt of that, but I just couldn’t bear to give them his real name.” The letter then revealed why.
“For me to do that, it seemed so final that handing him over to the shelter was as good as me admitting that I’d never see him again,” the previous owner confessed.
“And if I end up coming back, getting him, and tearing up this letter, it means everything’s fine. But if someone else is reading it, well…”
“His name’s not Reggie. His real name is Tank. Because that is what I drive,” the letter revealed. Anthony’s eyes widened. It turns out that the previous owner was a soldier deployed to Iraq.
Antony was lost for words at the truth. But the situation with the soldier and his dog was about to get even more heartbreaking.
“I told the shelter that they couldn’t make “Reggie” available for adoption until they received word from my company commander. See, my parents are gone, I have no siblings, no one I could’ve left Tank with,” the letter continued.
“… it was my only real request of the Army upon my deployment to Iraq, that they make one phone call to the shelter … in the “event”… to tell them that Tank could be put up for adoption.”
“Luckily, my colonel is a dog guy, too, and he knew where my platoon was headed. He said he’d do it personally. And if you’re reading this, then he made good on his word,” Antony read.
“Well, this letter is getting too downright depressing, even though I’m just writing it for my dog.”
“I couldn’t imagine if I was writing it for a wife and kids and family. But still, Tank has been my family for the last six years, almost as long as the Army has been my family.”
“And now I hope and pray that you make him part of your family and that he will adjust and come to love you the same way he loved me.”
“That unconditional love from a dog is what I took with me to Iraq as an inspiration to do something selfless, to protect innocent people from those who would do terrible things … and to keep those terrible people from coming over here,” the soldier wrote.
“If I had to give up Tank in order to do it, I am glad to have done so. He was my example of service and of love. I hope I honored him by my service to my country and comrades.”
“All right, that’s enough. I deploy this evening and have to drop this letter off at the shelter. I don’t think I’ll say another goodbye to Tank, though,” the letter continued.
“I cried too much the first time. Maybe I’ll peek in on him and see if he finally got that third tennis ball in his mouth.”
In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.