After Chris Cimino's dog Gretchen died, he penned a note to their beloved mailman who visited Gretchen every day, asking him to deliver dog treats on her behalf

By Joelle Goldstein
April 10, 2019 10:25 PM
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Credit: Fernando Barboza Facebook; Chris Cimino

An unlikely friendship with a neighborhood dog has left pawprints on one mailman’s heart after the pup asked him to fulfill her dying wish.

While completing his route each day, Fernando Barboza would bring treats to many of the dogs in the neighborhood, including one very special German shepherd he often visited named Gretchen.

But Barboza recently discovered through a heartbreaking note left by her owner, Chris Cimino, that Gretchen had died — and as her final request, asked that the mailman share the wealth of her treats with the other doggies in the neighborhood.

“Gretchen passed away yesterday. She asked me to ask you if you would share her treats that she never got to finish with the other dogs on your route,” the note, which was shared by Barboza’s daughter on Twitter, read. “She always enjoyed seeing you come to the door and was always happy to get a snack from you.”

Along with the heartbreaking letter, the Cimino family attached a bag of Gretchen’s dog treats. The tweet has since gone viral, garnering over 874,000 likes and over 186,000 retweets.

The friendship between the mailman and canine didn’t initially come with ease, Cimino admitted to Good Morning America.

After the family adopted Gretchen as a rescue in 2013, the sweet-but-shy pup was tough to get to know. “Her mistrust of just about everyone outside of the family was pretty evident,” Cimino told the outlet.

Meanwhile, Barboza, who’s been delivering packages for five years, shared with The Dodo that he’s always made it a priority to include the family’s dogs on his routes.

“I have a bag of treats in my mail truck,” Barboza explained to the digital animal outlet. “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.”

The Cimino family dog, Gretchen, is pictured here.Credit: Chris Cimino
Gretchen
| Credit: Chris Cimino

Because of her personality, Cimino said her relationship with Barboza “started off slow” — until the mailman started bringing treats and paying extra attention to the German shepherd.

“He was pretty persistent … he would call her name and she started looking forward to it,” he told GMA. “Even when he didn’t have any packages to deliver to the door he would drive by and say, ‘Hey Gretchen.'”

Barboza echoed those sentiments to The Dodo, noting that Gretchen was “a little standoffish at first” but began to warm up after he started petting and talking to her.

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Fernando Barboza
| Credit: Fernando Barboza Facebook

It eventually got to a point where Gretchen would look forward to Barboza’s daily visits and even got jealous when he would deliver packages to neighbors across the street.

Due to their special bond, Cimino said he struggled to find the words to tell Barboza that Gretchen had died on March 31 after battling a neuropathic disease.

It was then that he decided to write the sweet note, as telling him in person would have been too difficult.

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So on that following Monday, Barboza paid a visit to the Cimino residence, where he noticed the family had their mailbox’s outgoing mail flag up. When he reached inside, Barboza said he discovered the sad news and immediately was overcome with emotion.

“I saw the bag and read the note,” Barboza recalled to The Dodo. “I was choked up.”

As difficult as it was for him, the mailman said he has since carried out Gretchen’s wish, handing out her treats to the neighborhood dogs. “And when I do, I always say, ‘This is from Gretchen,'” Barboza sweetly shared to the outlet.

Cimino said he’s happy to know that Gretchen’s last wish has helped make many of her neighborhood puppy pals happy.

He also hopes that by sharing his story, it will encourage people to adopt older dogs like Gretchen, who clearly left an impact on more than just his family’s life.

“You never know when you’re going to find that once-in-a-lifetime friendship,” he told GMA.

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Fernando Barboza
| Credit: Fernando Barboza Facebook
The Cimino family dog, Gretchen, is pictured here.Credit: Chris Cimino
Gretchen
| Credit: Chris Cimino

Meanwhile, Barboza — who’s still struggling to come to terms with Gretchen’s passing — said that the experience has certainly been bittersweet, but he knows her legacy will live on beyond her treats.

“To me, dogs become a part of us,” Barboza told The Dodo. “It’s been both happy and sad. I’m sad when I think about her, but I’m happy to see the other dogs’ tails wagging like crazy when they get the treats. It’s bittersweet.”