I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your furry friends Alec and Jim. It's a painful loss. I tend to feel much closer to my pets than to people. No one listens to you like a dog will and while cats can be somewhat aloof, ours seem to know who needs comfort and when. Just to make sure you know you're loved.
We adopted one of our golden retrievers, we flew down from WI to Tennessee to get him and drove back. He had been shot and hit by a car, was skinny and half shaved from surgery. The vet didn't expect him to live long. It was my wife who wanted him, I was less enthusiastic about flying to get what I called a 'broken dog.'.
That dog turned out to be the greatest dog the world has ever seen. He could read my mind. He was wise and wonderful and lived for years and years. Mostly thanks to my wife again and her willingness to pay for acupuncture, chiropractic and water exercise treatments. He was like one of our kids. In fact the kids were pretty sure we loved the dog more.
In an x-ray after we brought him home our vet found more buck shot in his hind quarters. I made him a dog tag with his name engraved and bezel set one of the extracted pellets on the tag. He seemed to wear it with pride.