Story Of my Two Stanleys

I don’t believe in coincidences.

Everything about my dog Stanley has been serendipitous

Thirteen years ago today, my heart was shattered by the untimely death of my sweet dog Emerson. But on that very same day, a little blonde angel dog was born, one who would put the broken shards of my heart back together.

And make it swell with love year after year.


Sally and Emerson

It was 2009 and I had lost my mother only the year before.

I was still bereft. My seven-year-old yellow lab Emerson had been my rock and my comfort during that time, consoling me in ways that often seemed to elude others.

His steady presence was essential not only in that very difficult year of grieving but in the trying year leading up to my mother’s death as her health began to deteriorate. My days were spent as her caregiver, traveling to and from rehabs, hospitals, and her house. Returning home after a long emotional day to Emerson’s pure sweetness was the balm I needed to sustain myself.

That August a planned trip to Cape Cod with my husband Hersh and Emerson would be the first vacation I took after 2 years of caring for my mother.

What was unplanned was the unimaginable tragedy that would happen before the vacation even began. While on the ferry to Connecticut, Emerson became distressed with labored breathing. Trapped in our car below deck, we watched helplessly as he suffered in the back seat. By the time the ferry docked and we frantically found a vet it was too late. Emerson was gone. Devastated and in disbelief, we drove back home, the now empty back seat of the car a visual metaphor for the crater in my heart.


Several weeks later, Hersh thought he found a way to help heal my inconsolable heart. I had no idea that he had begun looking online for lab puppies. For me, the thought of a new dog seemed far in the future.

I just wasn’t ready.

But when he showed me the picture and specs of a little male puppy, my heart melted. It wasn’t just that the tiny pup was an adorable blonde lab.

It was the date of his birth. August 1, 2009, the very same day that Emerson died.

As one angel was on its way to heaven, another was coming down to be with me.

It was kismet.

As was his name.

Once we decided to adopt this little puppy from the breeder in Texas, we needed to choose a name. I had only begun to toy around with what to call this newest member of our family when one afternoon Hersh came into my office and said simply: “How about Stanley?”

My eyes teared up.

Sitting on my desk in front of me was a little stuffed dog, a dachshund, one that had belonged to my mother, one that she had become quite attached to during her decline.

Whether in a rehab or a hospital room she would always ask for the whereabouts of her little plush animal. A dog she had named Stanley. As I would bring the stuffed animal Stanley to her, her eyes would light up and her often pained face would break out into the sweetest smile.

Just as I did when Hersh said that familiar name.

What was truly miraculous was the fact that he had no knowledge of my mother’s stuffed dog, least of all its name. The name Stanley just came to him.

Stanley was meant to be. That was his destiny.

In the 13 years, he has blessed my life the love he has bestowed on me is matched only by the love I give him.

Happy Birthday, Stanley!!!

 © Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2022 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.



  1. jefftamarkin

    Lovely story. And I never knew that Stanley was a Texan!


  2. Ellie Berner

    I am a Lab lover too. Our dog Nancy, a black Lab was an important member of our family. She meant something to each of us in her own way. My husband, Bill, looked forward to hearing her tail bong on the wrought iron when he came home, my son Gary and daughter, Carolyn confided in her. She’d respond with a low doggie whine. To me, she was my right arm.I’d talk to her and ask her advice — hoping the low whine would be my answer. Bill and I were sometimes complimented on our nice children. I’d always say, “Nancy has a lot to do with their upbringing.” And those who didn’t know us that well thought we had a live in nanny. And to be honest, our beloved black Lab fitted that role to a T. Best wishes to Stanley and you. Ellie Berner


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