OXNARD, Calif. — A bucket full of tennis balls on the beach, that serves as a memorial to a beloved dog, is still going strong after several months.
Forrest began his life as a stray and at the age of one he was adopted to his forever home by John and Teri Hembree in Southern California. There he had 12 glorious years of playing ball with his family, even when his legs stopped working.
Forrest was diagnosed with Canine Degenerative Myelopathy a year before he passed away. This eventually limited the use of his back legs but that didn’t slow him down. He still enjoyed his love of life and his love of playing ball.
“Even when he could no longer walk, he would always go to his toy box and grab a ball over anything else,” Teri told The Dodo. “That was just part of his personality.”
Although people told the family that they needed to let him go, Forrest still loved life. He was fitted with a custom-made wheel chair. He became a staple at the beach and he taught others that even though he was disabled he could still thrive and live a life as normally as possible.
In May, Forrest became too weak to continue and his family made the difficult decision to let him go. His family wanted to keep his love of life and tennis balls alive. They placed a bucket full of tennis balls and a note on the beach.
“We thought it would be a good idea to honor Forrest by leaving out a bucket of balls for other dogs and their owners at his favorite beach,” said Teri. “We placed it there, and in the evening we sat and watched people grab the balls and play with their dogs.”
Although it’s been a few months since Forrest passed away, his memorial is still on the beach and is still being enjoyed.
“It’s been overwhelming, to say the least. It’s just so heartwarming and inspiring for us, and bittersweet. We wish he was still here, but he’s still inspiring people. It makes us really happy. He was amazing.”