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TO CUR WITH LOVE

CUDDLES IS DEAD, BUT THE PICKETING AT THE VET'S OFFICE CONTINUES.

Grief and guilt are also a problem, he admits. Counseling, however, is out of the question, despite the fact that local veterinarians offer such sessions for free.

"For me, it's a personal thing, like religion," says Jerry. "My relationship with Cuddles is very, very personal. I don't want to share it with others."

He acknowledges that the picketing makes their private turmoil public.
"Yes, it's a constant reminder," Jerry says. "But as long as we feel like doing it, we might be doing it twenty years from now. Everything we've done has been deliberate and thought out--the consequences, too."

What do they want? The Franciscos outline vague notions about the clinic's employees being more sensitive and caring. "We're not in it for the money, although I'm sure a lot of people would say that. We wanted to help other animals at the clinic," says Betty, an office manager when she isn't picketing with her husband. "We're not after revenge. Hopefully, we'll have the clinic think about this. And people with pets will learn to ask questions and demand answers."

But something sharp and dangerous clearly is sticking into Jerry's heart. His letter to Cuddles has a finality that is unsettling. In it, he vows, "We will not let you down. We will be with you in your new world. Be patient, you lil ole sweet mutt. We will be with you in just a little while. In just a minute."

"Are we fanatics?" asks Jerry. "Well, maybe. But I think if you love something, you can't be a fanatic. What's the worst thing that can happen to us? It already has. Cuddles has died. My wife and I are stubborn. We can roll over and play dead, or we can pay the price.

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