When Jen and Teri Hembree decided to set up a Facebook page for their beloved dog, Forrest was a healthy, dashing 12-year-old German Shorthaired Pointer and life was his bone. (We're pretty sure dogs don't enjoy oysters ...)
Then, in the summer 2014, he developed canine degenerative myelopathy, which affects the spinal cord and causes paralysis in older dogs. As the disease progressed, Forrest started losing the ability to walk on his back legs and wasn't able to get up on his own.
'Other than a couple of legs that didn't work so well, [he] was a very healthy boy, loved to play with balls and toys, take trips to the beach and play with his sisters,' Forrest's owners wrote on his Facebook page.
When Forrest's legs started failing completely, the Hembrees decided to fit him with a customized wheelchair.
'Forrest took to it immediately. From that day forward, [his] wheels allowed him to continue being a dog.'
In 2015, Forrest's health began gradually declining and he started showing signs of dementia. Eventually, he lost the ability to move his front legs, so more wheels had to be mounted on his wheelchair. The Hembrees were devastated to see their four-legged friend suffer.
On May 21, Forrest passed away. But his family wanted everyone to remember what a wild, carefree spirit he was, so they decided to set up a memorial for him.
They couldn't think of a better place for Forrest's memorial than his beloved beach in Oxnard, Calif. But the idea they came up with is even more amazing!
The Hembrees found a nice spot at the beach and placed a basket of worn-out tennis balls along with a heartfelt sign.
The sign reads:
"Forrest loved to play on this beach. Please feel free to borrow a ball and play with your dog. Please return it when you are done so others may play as well."
They posted directions on their Facebook page as well.
And you know what? Their memorial seems to be gaining a lot of attention. Not only do people return the tennis balls, some add their own while others even donate dog toys.
Forrest's owners say he has inspired and changed lives of many people and dogs all over the world by showing that it is possible to enjoy life even with a disease.