SAYING FAREWELL TO MY DOG
E. Katie Gammill, AKC Judge, Exhibition Editor
within the human and canine pack when a pet passes away. Bringing a pet into your home is a life time responsibility. Eventually we must say goodbye. This decision is a final courtesy. A dog’s life being shorter than ours requires we make tough choices. Your vet can suggest options and help with burial decisions.
Some heartbroken owners will swear to never own another dog. Others rush out and buy
a pet too soon. That dog will never live up to the owner’s expectations. Pets, like people, are irreplaceable.
Here is my story of Bunny.
Initially sold, the buyer never came for her. My husband, knowing I was
attached, said “May as well keep her. She won’t eat much”. Bunny became family.
Some people considered her a runt, but her smallness did not affect her capacity
to love. She left us far too soon.
We all must find a way to deal with the loss of a pet. Some
people spend exorbitant funds to buy a few extra months,
but who benefits, the owner or the dog? We must have the
courage to know when enough is enough. Quality of
life is important. The saying “Any day above ground is a
good day” doesn’t always hold true, not when pleading
eyes beg for relief from suffering
I return home from a trip.
Bunny does not meet me at the door. Her routine is to sit by my suitcase as I
pack and greet me with enthusiasm when I return. She isn’t there! I am stunned.
Years later I still miss her. Bunny was 16 years old, blind and deaf. We didn’t
love her less for her infirmities although she had a little trouble with her
surroundings. The unfortunate decision to let her go was made when I was gone, I
never said good-by to Bunny but she died with dignity on her home turf,
comfortable in familiar surroundings. Wrapped in a special blanket, Bunny rests
under the oak tree with her furry friends. Memories and pictures help fill the void in my heart.
Old dogs require special
considerations. This I know. Country folks live with life and death on a daily
basis. It’s common to see wounded wild animals struggle to exist. There is a
balance in nature and a time for all seasons. We understand life’s cycle. We
accept death and know all God’s living creatures have a shelf life. Comfort is
as important as time. If an animal is in distress, the suffering must end. This
release from pain is not an easy decision.
I still see Bunny lying in
the window watching for me. As her eyes grew dim, she would bark at my chair,
attracted by my reading light. Many times I would be elsewhere in the house.
Quite pudgy, we attempted to put Bunny on a diet. One day she carried her tiny
food bowl to me demanding to be fed. This “doggy protest” worked and from then
on, she ate what she wanted. Bunny knew when I moved from room to room and would
painfully rise to her feet and shuffle along behind. Easy to find in the dark
due to her snoring, her deafness required we shake her awake each morning. She
would potty upon command and a flicking porch light triggered her to return to
the door at night.
Bunny monitored my writing.
Many times she shut down my computer by sitting on the surge protector. Despite
age, she strutted and threatened kennel mates three times her size. Toothless,
she demanded pack order and ruled all with an iron paw.
Years later I still seek
closure. Bunny seems irreplaceable. Although small, she had value beyond
compare. She went on family vacations and mannered both children and puppies. As
I write about Bunny, there is a lump in my throat. This is how important a pet
becomes to an owner.
My life as a dog breeder
soon will end. Other activities will replace the thrill of a new litter. As
buyers seek another puppy, I suggest to them that they buy a different color or
sex in a new puppy. They can never fill the paw prints of a pet so cherished.
Eventually a small male
puppy entered our lives. Pushed away by his littermates, he becomes a “bottle
baby”. His determination to live touches my heart. Once again, my husband says
“He won’t eat much. Let’s keep him”... I am becoming attached to a new buddy.
He softens my grieving for Bunny and brightens our days.
Today we don’t count the litters, we make each litter count.
People wait patiently until a puppy is available. Each puppy is precious and
it’s harder to let them go. Numbers are decreasing. Adults find new loving homes
and assume “couch mouse” status. Those left surround us vying for our laps as we
watch TV. Their warmth and companionship complete our lives as nothing else can.
A dog’s life is not a journey to the
grave with the intention of arriving safely. Most pets skid in broadside,
thoroughly used up, totally worn out and loudly barking “WOW, what a ride!"
Each dog is an individual
unique in character. As humans, we must be as generous with our love as
our pets are with their love toward us. If we can do this, eventually we will
become as special as our pets think we are.
Owning a pet completes our
lives as nothing else can. Store those precious memories in your heart and know
your pet will wait patiently for you at the Rainbow Bridge.
Related Article: Losing Our Canine Friends, by Vicki Hearn
Copyright © NetPlaces Network 11051710