Gretchen the German shepherd may have recently passed away — but she found the perfect person to ensure her loving legacy lives on.
When the Cimino family, from Texas, adopted Gretchen as a rescue in 2013, it was evident that she had experienced little love in her life up to that point.
"She was pretty mistrustful of all people," Chris Cimino told The Dodo. "I don't know her entire backstory, but judging from her initial reactions, it wasn't a good story."
But soon, Gretchen came to adore her new family — though she was still very wary of all outsiders.
That is, until she met postal worker Fernando Barboza.
Barboza is a dog lover, and it shows. Since starting in his job five years ago, he's come to know all the dogs on his route by name.
"I have a bag of treats in my mail truck," Barboza told The Dodo. "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."
It was in this way that Barboza came to know Gretchen — and to be the first outside the Cimino family to win her over.
"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."
Gretchen was smitten.
With that, a sweet tradition began to form, wherein Gretchen would wait eagerly by the front door anticipating the postal worker's arrival. This happened every day 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.
But this week, that tradition sadly ended.