This wonderful tribute was posted by leightenheimer, over on Imgr and was too sweet to not share.

Grab a tissue!


One day we met in a factory and the rest was history.


 A little over a year ago, my wife and I lost two children back-to back through miscarriage. At this point in our new marriage we had already dealt with so much and losing those potential lives served as a bottomless pit; a hole that seemed unlikely we would ever fill. I was working at a wood flooring factory a couple months after. I had an entire wing, basically, to myself. One day I was staining some custom furniture for my boss’s getaway Florida home when I looked at the other end of the hangar length building to see a little puppy. I instantly wanted to abandon post and grab the thing for cuddles but I had work to get done. This pup wasn’t having none of that though. He walked up to me and stared at me with his huge eyes. I pet him and noticed instantly that he was flea covered, matted and not in the best physical shape. As I looked closer I realized that he had a lot of gray around his muzzle, ears and face.


I got him chicken-ish fast food during my lunch because he was so thin that I could feel his bones. I started sending these pictures to my wife planning on pleading to bring him home. I didn’t have to because she beat me to the punch.


I thought that I would have to herd him away from doors all day until I could clock out and take him home. The little guy fell asleep on the floor and stayed there all day.


I took him home and washed dozens upon dozens of fleas off his body. My wife and my daughter dried him off and brushed his fur. He looked a lot better but still seemed worse for wear. We are lucky he made it through that first night. After that night we named him Rooster Cogburn, after John Wayne’s role in True Grit. We found it fitting; due to his ability to keep moving despite it all.

When we took him to our veterinarian the whole clinic fell for him instantly. The vet had a hard time identifying his breed because of his size. They landed on Shetland Sheepdog, an age of somewhere between 8 and 12 with a weigh-in of 7.3 lbs.

His impressive list of existing conditions were:

1. Stunted growth from malnutrition.
2. Cataracts and one small pupil from blunt force trauma to the head.
3. Ulcers in his stomach causing vomiting.
4. Four oronasal fistulas in his mouth caused by his teeth rotting out of his head.
5. Completely deaf.


After a surgery on the fistulas, a strict medicinal regiment, months of spoiling and a family who loved him as much as two children and then some; Toothless (Nickname added by our Five year old daughter because of her love for How To Train Your Dragon) Rooster Cogburn was a dashing elderly gentleman in the vein of Sir Ian Mckellen and Christopher Plummer. I now present to you a photo journey through the good times;


He would gum my boots, dominate my foot or donkey kick my heels if I tried to leave the house. He also made a very gruff *Harumph* noise when frustrated.


He loved being spoon fed by his mommy, greek yogurt was his favorite treat. He would snuggle up into our necks when he wanted to tell us he loved us.


Here he was getting in touch with his timber wolf roots. We had watched The Grey together that same day.


Here he was given a Normal-Type item to boost his SP. ATK.


The cutest Who in Whoville.


He had had enough of that.

The Gambler. He loved sitting on playing cards or in the middle of a game.

The Gambler. He loved sitting on playing cards or in the middle of a game.

Most of all...he loved naps. He had a nest (the red blanket) and a mistress (the brown blanket). Such sleep.

Most of all…he loved naps. He had a nest (the red blanket) and a mistress (the brown blanket). Such sleep.

He would sleep next to us on the floor for his Second Breakfast nap.

He would sleep next to us on the floor for his Second Breakfast nap.


Here he practices his Lucille Bluth wink.

Toothless Rooster Cogburn was given three months to one year to live. He made it to one year before he got too sick to grace us with his awesomeness for one more day. Today, June 2, 2014; I watched the greatest friend, most loving pet and the most heroic fighter I’ve ever met sink into a well deserved final nap while his mother and I held his paws. I never thought I could love a pet as much as I loved him; as much as we loved him. Everyone who met him instantly loved him. His vets, our friends, a theater full of patrons when he performed a walk-on role in a play. He truly was one of a kind. We hope that we gave him enough good memories to wipe out any bad ones that came before.


“Rooster” “Toothless Rooster Cogburn” “King Booster” “Wuuf” “Boosta Boy”

We love you and always will. Enjoy that nap…you definitely! deserve it.

34 Responses to “The Story of Toothless Rooster Cogburn”

  1. John

    What an incredible story. Each needing the other, and finding the other.

    I know Nickelback isn’t everyone’s taste musically, but the lyrics to ‘Gotta be Somebody’ come to mind as I read stories like this.


  2. sue willis

    You and your family were blessed with Rooster, just when you needed him, and he needed you. Angels in disguise.

  3. Renee Benedek Zittel

    I did not realize Rooster had passed. I had read his story previously, and simply could not comprehend how someone could have harmed this little guy so seriously. I was so grateful that he was able to live out the rest of his life in love and safety. RIP, little guy.

  4. Maida Farrar

    I am so overwhelmed by such a sweet story, can’t describe it. This little sweetheart just talks to me too. What a beautiful little boy. I am so glad he found such a loving family and was so well taken care of and loved so very much. I look at his eyes and am in love too. I know he only remembers the wonderful years with you and the bad ones are forever forgotten. God bless all the little ones who need us and find the wonderful people who give them so much love back.

  5. P. Price

    Oh! I’m having a hard time swallowing the huge lump I have in my throat! What a wonderful, yet sad story. Bless you both for taking care of such a little cutie & making what time he had left in this life the best you could give him. Shelties are little bundles of fur covered love & rescuing one that has had a hard time in life brings rewards that just can’t be counted. As you found out their gratitude is limitless & they end up giving you back more than you give.

  6. Beth

    So good that the little guy was showered with love in his final days. We should all be so blessed.

  7. Violet Sheltie

    I am moved to tears ! It is a sad but beautiful story and it is wonderful that there are such good people! God bless you all !
    RIP Rooster Cogburn <3

  8. Sharon

    I think I can say for sure that the love poured onto this sweet little soul from his adoptive family DID wipe out any bad memories of what had happened in his past. It is touching beyond measure that this family doted on this little senior Sheltie who wandered into their lives. Rooster Cogburn is waiting at the Rainbow Bridge for his reunion with these angels.

  9. Yvonne Grenfell

    I’ve saw this posted so many times (I have always shared too). No matter how many times I read the story I’m in tears. So glad he found a TLC home to see his short-time left. What a happy and spoilt year he had. Run free little one x

  10. Nancy Morgan

    Your story is so touching. How did Rooster ever get so lucky to wander into your workplace and befriend you? He found heaven in you and your wife. And I know he provided the love you needed at your time of loss. It reminded me of my first Sheltie. We adopted her after she had been left alone for two months after her owner died. The grandchildren went to the apartment every day to walk her and feed her. She was tiny too, but weighed 30 pounds because the kids fed her iced sandwich cookies every day. After we got her she ate boiled chicken every day for the rest of her life, no cookies. She managed to get down to 20 pounds but was still fat! I think she should have weighed about 10 pounds. We were lucky enough to have her for four years. She had arthritis in her legs and she had deformed feet. She gave us so much love and adoration. I had never known such unconditional love. She loved me first because I have gray hair and I probably reminded of her deceased owner. We bonded the first night. She eventually made up to my husband and we were so fond of her. She lived for three years and then got breast cancer. We had her operated on at 13 years. The tumor came back quickly and then spread to her bones. We finally had to put her down because she was in obvious pain. She made it to 14. Those four years were wonderful with her. She was a little doll. Your pup was the same. You can’t help but love them when they are so sweet. Very fond memories and now I am crying for my little Katie.

  11. Cheryl

    God Bless you for sharing your life and giving “Rooster Cogburn” wonderfull loving memories to take with him to the Rainbow Bridge. We too had a little Blue Merle girl that we rescued from a Puppy Mill. She asked for nothing but love and we too hoped that she took with her the happy loving times and forgot the bad times.

  12. Bobbie Pyron

    What a beautiful, heartfelt tribute to a wonderful sheltie and the bond they have with us. Tears….!!!!

  13. Jo

    I’ve seen this before and it always tears me up. By far the best photo is Rooster being spoon-fed yogurt. That is some serious lovin’ there! What a beautiful ending to what had to be a hard life for Rooster. Thank you to his family for loving him.

  14. Gloria

    I saw this story last year and it restores my faith in humanity!
    Wish everyone was as compassionate.

    Thank GOD this little one found medical care, companionship, and most of all LOVE.

    Bless you for caring so much… a special place in heaven awaits you.

    Nothing makes one feel better than saving a life. Every life matters.

    Sweet dreams Rooster …
    … until you and your family meet again at Rainbow Bridge

    You are an inspiration to all of us!

  15. Sullivan

    You’re right about the tissue, more like a box. I have seen this post before and I shed tears then as I did now. I just can not understand how anyone can NOT love that most adorable little face, one look in those eyes and you just fall right in.

    Thank you leightenheimer and all of your family for rescuing and loving this beautiful little senior for all the time he had left, when he walked in that door and picked you to be his new daddy, he knew he had found his forever home.


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