Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful for all of the wonderful people -- family members and friends -- who share our lives, and also for the animals who are so important to us. At the Humane Society of the United States, where we have a dogs-in-the workplace policy, the companion animals of friends and colleagues are part of the larger organizational family we appreciate and celebrate.

Unfortunately, their time with us is often too short, as we were sadly reminded last week when tragedy struck a beloved dog belonging to a colleague in our Maryland office.

A few employees were taking a break with their pets at the dog park on our property when one dog, four-year old Royce, collapsed, apparently for no reason -- he had no known health issues. An employee familiar with canine CPR tried to revive Royce before he was rushed to the closest emergency veterinary clinic, about a mile away. Sadly, Royce passed away, leaving those of us who knew him and loved him in deep mourning.

All of us who have pets knows that their time with us is limited, no matter how hard we may wish we could extend their lives. We’re fortunate that so many of them reach old age in good health and good spirits, thanks to advances in veterinary medicine and nutrition. And it’s terribly sad when their lives are cut short by accidents, injuries, unexpected illnesses and other events that take them from us.

A bouquet of flowers is now outside the dog park, in remembrance of a good boy, and in support of his mom. Her colleagues have been sharing their sympathies and helping out to cover remaining veterinary costs from that sad day. Royce was much loved, and will long be remembered.

A tragedy like that hits us especially hard because every day, the work we do here involves confronting the suffering of animals, including farm animals, wildlife and companion animals. Many of the pets belonging to the staff at the HSUS and our affiliates have been rescued from horrible and uncertain situations -- in puppy mills, the dog and cat meat trade, dogfighting and research--and that makes us love them all the more. We know what they have been through, we know we are lucky to have them, and we know that there are so many others like them out there who may never know the kindness and love that they so deserve.

The Washington Post recently wrote about an effort to place a value on the life of a dog. The answer many owners would be inclined to give, the Post noted, is "priceless." This Thanksgiving week, on behalf of the HSUS and its family of organizations, I want to thank you for your dedication to animals and for your continuing support for our efforts to make a difference in their lives. We are grateful for your commitment, not just on Thanksgiving Day but every day.