BOSTON—Terminally ill 5-year-old Timmy McWinn had one wish before his tragic death last week: to be visited one last time by Bruiser, the McWinns' loyal and devoted family dog. Bruiser was McWinn's companion and best friend throughout the young boy's short life.

Bruiser, pictured here two weeks before being accidentally abandoned in Canada by the McWinns, trekked 3,500 miles to see terminally ill Timmy McWinn (inset), but arrived too late.

Unfortunately, the lumbering, lovable canine did not arrive in time to cheer up Timmy, and, instead of making his last moments on Earth a little more bearable, he merely added to the unbelievable agony and horror through which the boy suffered during his final death throes.

"Bruiser was Timmy's best pal and play friend," Timmy's father James McWinn said. "He provided him with his only real moments of joy. So when we accidentally left the dog behind during a family trip to Canada, Timmy was understandably heartbroken."

McWinn worsened after returning from Canada, crippled by a degenerative brain disease that slowly ate away at his mind. Doctors could find no cure, leaving Timmy with one dream and one dream only: that one day, before he passed on, he would once again hold Bruiser in his tiny, frail arms.

Despite flyers, mailings and a large posted reward, the McWinns' efforts to find Bruiser roundly failed. No word of the devoted sheepdog's whereabouts came to the anxious family.

"We'd given up hope," McWinn said. "Until one day, well, I guess what you'd have to call a miracle occurred."

According to McWinn, sketchy reports began trickling in of a dog matching Bruiser's description making its way across the country. Bruiser, driven only by his love, was bravely trekking across a continent just to see his dying pal Timmy one last time.

The McWinns, as well as the hospital staff and a crowd of well-wishing onlookers, were thrilled when a weathered, weary Bruiser arrived in the parking lot of the hospital. The crowd rushed Bruiser to Timmy's side, but it was too late.

"Timmy was still alive, but his brain functions had deteriorated to the point where he could not even recognize his own dog," Dr. Dan Pangloss said. "When the giant, overjoyed dog jumped on top of Timmy and began licking him frantically, Timmy felt only one thing–heart-stopping terror."

Terrified by the dog he no longer recognized, Timmy let out what onlookers mistook for shrieks of delight. Only after several minutes did they realize that the child was actually screaming in fright.

"He was screaming, 'Get it off me! Get it off me! Make giant monster go away!'" nurse Ellen Bram said. "I tried to push the dog closer to Timmy's failing eyes so he could make out the dog's face, but he only screamed louder, begging his mother to save him from the hungry, hairy demon. I'll never forget how his little voice trilled into a macabre falsetto of unimaginable agony."

Timmy's eyes rolled up into his head, and his diminutive body was racked by a series of painful convulsions. Within moments, he was dead.

"It's safe to say Timmy's death could not have been more horrific," a hospital spokeswoman said.

Bruiser was then shot, and his head cut off for laboratory testing.