Jackie Gingrich Cushman

It's confession time -- I'm in love. It's been a long time in coming and snuck up on me a bit, and it seems to be growing even deeper, so I've decided that it must be more than puppy love. It's Bunny love.

A few years ago, my now-13-year-old daughter, Maggie, and I began our campaign to convince my husband, Jimmy, we needed a second dog. Our now-7-year-old black Labrador, Midnight, is an incredible, fantastic dog, but at close to 80 pounds she is a bit too large to sit in one's lap (if you sit on the floor cross-legged, however, she will come sit in your lap). Due to outside pressures (presidential primary campaign, anyone?), the purchase decision was delayed to this past Christmas.

Maggie was in full puppy hunt this past fall and found what she deemed to be the perfect fit on a rescue website. A small black mix puppy named Bunny, who had been born on Maggie's birthday. Certainly a sign from heaven that she belonged to us.

Jimmy, in his ongoing effort to maintain his father of the year award (which he has made every year so far), drove four hours each way for puppy approval before the final decision. He approved.

Three days before Christmas, he once again drove to get Bunny and brought her home to us.

Bunny -- fluffy, black, curly hair, 12 pounds, curled-up tail, bark and boundless energy that exudes through her entire body when she wags not just her tail, but her entire body from her head to her tail. She is full-on puppy.

This past Easter weekend, our family went to the beach and took our two dogs. The dogs ran through the surf, chasing birds they never caught and sniffing the unending menagerie of smells. Their joy was a joy to watch, unbridled happiness in just being who they are.

The day we were to leave, Jimmy and Maggie were back in just a few minutes from their early morning walk. The catch in Jimmy's voice let me know something was wrong before I could catch his words. Bunny's back legs weren't working right. She couldn't walk, would not drink or eat and was whimpering.

Not like Bunny, not good.

She was taken to the vets when they opened at 8 a.m. Her condition appeared to be neurological, based on the symptoms. A battery of blood tests was ordered. They returned Bunnyless. I gave Maggie a hug and mentioned that she might want to say special prayer for Bunny. She replied that she already had.

I prayed as well. Please, God, keep Bunny safe and well.

Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.