Nala, our daughter Mallory’s beautiful and smart Golden Retriever, was hit and killed Tuesday morning, September 10, 2019 in front of their home on Industrial Parkway.  Mallory ran to Nala’s aid immediately and within seconds, Nala unconsciously took her final, slow breaths as Mallory’s arms enveloped her gently in the grass on the side of the roadway. Nala didn’t suffer.

It all happened so fast. Nobody to blame, not even Nala.

Before she was hit and tossed by the innocent driver’s car, Nala was carrying out her normal morning dog routine.  Sniffing. Wagging. Pawing. Rolling. Exploring. Frolicking. Chewing. Licking. Shaking. Behaving. But just wandering farther than usual.

Comfort dog Nala was an important asset to our funeral home environment.  She felt safe at the funeral home. And she helped humans feel safer, more secure and less emotional hurt while being there with her.  Nala the funeral dog knew that being petted eased other’s pain.

She healed to promote healing.

In just looking at Nala, those in mourning felt the essence of her beauty and the sense of good things and blessings in life, among the unsettling aspects of death and loss.

Until she died yesterday, none of us Underwoods thought much about her passing away. Nala was ALWAYS supposed to be here to support Mallory and her family and the rest of us, including the public who were greeted at the door by Nala’s reassuring smile and soothing approach. For sure, she is continuing her comfort dog work in Heaven.

Nala was born March 31, 2016.  She lived three years and six months and filled her days in so many complete ways for humans – the core for the sharp sense of losing her.

Mallory, Grant, Grace, Holly and I have said goodbye to other family pets, but Nala helped me in confirming the escalating sense I have regarding the human/pet relationship.  Their love and devotion for us humans and our love and dedication to them can be exceptionally real and extraordinarily deep. So much so than when they leave the earth, our hearts are ripped wide open.  I’ve witnessed this so often as we have assisted with pet cremation for many years.  But with Nala’s death, I have come to feel the intensity of the love and loss connection.

There will be other gorgeous Golden Retrievers. Other intelligent dogs. Other dedicated pets. But I am brokenhearted for Mallory as…

There will only be one Nala.