Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Why Dogs Don't Live Longer Than People

Why Dogs Don't Live Longer Than People......

Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog's owners, Ron, his wife, Lisa, and their little boy, Shane, were all very attached to Belker and they were hoping for a miracle. I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family there were no miracles left for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home. As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for the four-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.

The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker's family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away. The little boy seemed to accept Belker's transition without any difficulty or confusion.

We sat together for a while after Belker's death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives. Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, "I know why." Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I'd never heard a more comforting explanation.

He said, "People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life -- like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?" The four-year-old continued, "Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don't have to stay as long."

Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.

(a story copied from Mastiff MeetUP)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

February Blues

It never fails, every February I get the blues. I think it is the lack of sunshine and lack of time spent outside that brings on the blues. This year instead of thinking & dwelling on myself, I began to wonder if dogs have the same feelings - if they too get blue. So for the past couple of weeks I have been watching the crew and thought I noticed similar "bluesy" behavior in them. They were moping around, not as playful with each other or with us - definitly a case of the blues.

So as I always do in these situations, I came up with a plan. I would 'work out' the blues in all of us - Yep, that was my goal!! The weather was mild and cooperative, so Himself and I, along with the crew, took long walks around a new local state park ( a very nice park I might add!). We walked and walked. Himself and I exercised in the evenings (still doing that part). We all spent time in the yard playing and romping. All was grand in the world.

Then winter came back. Temperatures dropped and there was snow and ice on the ground. Determined to continue, this past Sunday Himself and I bundled up, put the jackets on the dogs, and headed out for a walk. We went about 50 yards or so and turned quickly and headed back to the car. It was 21 degrees out with a fairly strong wind. My eyes were freezing, Neo was shaking even under his new jacket, Pru was snorting, and Brin... well, she just looked at us as if we had lost our minds - she was going to follow along with us, but she had a very puzzled look on her face.

Later that evening and for the past couple of days the dogs have to be coaxed to go outside. Pru, who is always at the ready, moves causually toward the door, Neo hem-haws around and sighs heavily as we push him out the door, and Brin simply won't go out unless Himself or I do. It's as if she's saying, "hey, if I have to go out there, so do you!" As I have stood out there encouraging them to hurry a bit, I have considered their point of view. And, I must admit that I wouldn't like the idea of having to go potty outside in these freezing temperatures. But until I can train them to use the bathroom facilities instead of the floor, outside it must be.

When we all return to the house, it's a mad race to see who gets the warm, comfy spot on the couch. And last night as we all settled into our 'places' to get warm from the cold outside I realized that my intial diagnosis had been faulty. The dogs did not have the blues at all - I had misread the signs. The crew does not have the blues - they have the 'loves.' The love for Himself and me, the love of being close to us and being everywhere we are, the love of sharing tight spaces with us and each other, the love of doing whatever it is we are all doing as a group. While the initial thought had been wrong, the plan was actually right on target for all our needs. The plan emphasized togetherness- the basis for the 'loves' of the crew.

And as I have pondered this, I think I've come to believe that it will be their 'loves' that bring me out of my blues. So instead of me working the blues out of all of us, it is they who will work it out of me. Can hardly wait to get home for our evening group hug!!