Gretchen, an adorable German Shepherd sadly passed away recently. However, he did find a way to continue her legacy of love.
The Cimono family of Texas had adopted Gretchen as a rescue dog back in 2013. It was evident she had not experienced a lot of love back then.
“She was pretty mistrustful of all people,” Chris Cimino said. “I don’t know her entire backstory, but judging from her initial reactions, it wasn’t a good story.”
However, soon enough, Gretchen started putting her walls down and adoring her new family, although outsiders still brought out the wariness in her.
But that went away too after she met postal worker Fernando Barboza.
It’s clear that Barboza is a dog lover and he has met lots of them since he started his job five years ago.
“I have a bag of treats in my mail truck,” Barboza said. “When I bring a package to somebody’s door, and there’s a dog there, I give them a treat. Like, if I’m bringing something for the owner, I might as well bring something to the dogs, too, since they’re part of the family.”
That’s how Barboza came to know Gretchen. He was the first outsider to make Gretchen comfortable.
“When I first met her, I was kind of worried,” Barboza said. “She was a little standoffish at first, but then I started to talk to her and pet her and bring her treats.”
Since then, Gretchen waited eagerly for Barboza to show up. It continued for years.
“She knew the sound of the mail truck and she would perk up and get ready when she heard it,” Cimino said. “[Barboza] just wore away that callus she carried with his good nature and love for her. And she loved him too.”
“She was my buddy,” Barboza said.
Unfortunately, the tradition ended this week.
“On Monday, I saw Gretchen’s family’s mailbox had its flag up, which meant there was outgoing mail,” Barboza said.
It was a very unusual parcel. There was a bag full of dog treats and a note for Barboza, which heartbreakingly said:
“Gretchen passed away yesterday. She asked me to ask you if you would share her treats that she never got to finish with the other dogs on your route. She always enjoyed seeing you come to the door and was always happy to get a snack from you.”
“I saw the bag and read the note,” Barboza said. “I was choked up.”
He then went to the doors of the Cimonos to express his condolences and promised to carry out the final wish of Gretchen.
And he has kept the promise well.
“I’ve been giving out her treats to the dogs on my route every day. And when I do, I always say, ‘This is from Gretchen,’” Barboza said.
The newly- started tradition has helped Barboza and the Cimono family deal with Gretchen’s loss.
“It’s been both happy and sad,” Barboza said. “I’m sad when I think about her, but I’m happy to see the other dogs’ tails wagging like crazy when they get the treats. It’s bittersweet.”
“I know that she would have wanted her favorite things that she couldn’t finish to go to her friends,” Cimino said. “She may not have liked many people, but she absolutely loved other dogs.”
Although the Cimonos are still mourning over the loss, they are still thankful for how kind Barboza had been to Gretchen and how much joy he brought for her.
Barboza says he has to remind himself of Gretchen not waiting for him anymore, whenever he passes the Cimonos’ home. But he is carrying her legacy with her, besides handing out treats for her.
“I still expect to see my old buddy Gretchen, but of course she’s not there anymore,” he said. “To me, dogs become a part of us.”
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