I’m one of those people – an animal lover. Some people are more specific. They say they are a “dog” lover, “cat”, “bird”, “snake”, or “reptile” lover. It doesn’t matter, really, what you are – you’re still an animal lover. How can a person have compassion for one creature and not for another? Outside of snakes, I can’t think of one animal I don’t like (my apologies to all the reptile lovers – every creature deserves love and I’m glad they have You, AND, I did not say I hated them, I just don’t like them).
Every creature is unique, each possessing a talent or gift native only to that species – each serving a purpose.
I have throughout my life, at some point been a caretaker to dogs, cats, birds, and fish. I loved them all (even Harry, the goldfish). The one constant, was a dog. It was either a dog and a cat, a dog and birds, a dog and fish, a dog and birds and fish, or, two dogs. But, always, ALWAYS, there would be a dog somewhere in the mix.
They say only humans possess a soul but I beg to differ. You only need to look in a dog’s eyes to see there is a soul that dwells within.
No matter what animal it is, nothing compares to the dog. What other animal sacrifices their lives for us humans? Voluntarily, with no training to do so?
Trained, they are even more determined. Dogs are first responders in search and rescue, canine police officers, firefighter heroes, DEA agents, occupational therapists, hospice caretakers, hearing dogs, seeing eye dogs – and the list goes on. In other words, dogs are truly man’s best friend.
I’ve often said that if humans acted more like dogs, the world would be a better place. Dogs can be treated so cruelly and still come back to lick the hand that dealt the treatment to them. There is a quote by Josh Billings (1818-1885) that sums it up wholly and completely: “A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than you love yourself.” It’s true – dogs love unconditionally.
As you may have guessed, I have a dog now. Specifically, a Pug. You know, the kind you saw in Men in Black? That’s her. Aside from the color (fawn or black), frankly, you’ve seen one Pug, you’ve seen them all. I can’t tell you how many times when she was still a youngster, I would take her into the vet’s for her check-up, and some child would be waiting there with his or her parent, they’d turn real quick the moment they spotted her, yank on their parent’s arm and point at her. Soon, more often than not, they’d tentatively walk over to where I was sitting and ask with wide eyes and a hushed voice, “Does he talk?”
My Pug, “Sugar”, just turned 14 years old a few weeks ago, March 4. Health-wise, I can tell you she has a cast-iron stomach. I’ve caught her eating everything between bits of carpet to q-tips (and yes, they made it through her digestion system and out the other end intact). The only time I can say she’s ever been truly ill was when I, and her vet, learned the hard way she’s allergic to vaccinations. Let me tell you, that was a scary time, driving home from receiving her third round of vaccinations, I turned to look over at her and saw her face twice its normal size, her airway closing up fast. But, she came through it after two rounds of Benadryl. She is the toughest little dog I’ve ever had, and one of, if not the smartest.
This past weekend, however, she developed hives from something she got into out in the yard. In hind sight, I suspect she got stung by a bee. By nightfall, she had gotten no better and in fact had broken out even more, so I gave her a bath in case there was something in or on, her fur. Then, after toweling her off, she turned to walk into the other room but instead, she collapsed. By the time I reached her she was already trying to stand back up, but within that short period, I faced her mortality. (In case you’re curious of the outcome, I took her to the emergency vet, she received both a steroid and antihistamine injection, and within 36 hours was back to normal.)
I’ve never had any pet I owned live past the age of 14 but until that weekend, I hadn’t given it a thought with Sugar. She was/is going to be different – or, at least that’s what I’m hoping. She hasn’t yet gotten the grey/white face like a lot of other Pugs her age do and she still has her feisty, playful, moments. Just try to cut her toenails and she turns into the Tasmanian devil, taking two to three people to hold her while they’re being clipped; or, take her outside and she spots a bunny rabbit in the yard, she’s in hot pursuit, her hind legs digging into the earth for traction.
Right now, I can’t imagine what it will be like without her, she’s been so much a part of my life – seen me through some crazy good highs and equally deep lows. I don’t know if you’ve ever read the poem “Rainbow Bridge”. It follows below. The recent events got me to thinking about that and how nice it would be to have five minutes before she made that journey to the Rainbow Bridge, just five minutes to tell Sugar and have her understand my words on what she has meant to me.
I would tell her that I loved her from the first moment I held her as a puppy and she snuggled in the cup of my hands;
I would tell her that bringing her home was one of the happiest days of my life;
I would tell her how much laughter and joy she has given me every single day of her life;
I would tell her that when she is gone the bed is going to be so cold and lonely when I don’t feel her lying against me;
I would tell her that I’m scared of how empty I’m going to feel without her to come home to, to talk to, to play with, to hug;
I would tell her not to worry, that even though my heart will be tearing to pieces, I will be with her at the end and won’t let her go until she has crossed over; and
I would tell her … Thank You for loving me unconditionally.
I’m not sure if I’ll be getting another dog after Sugar is gone. It seems each time it gets harder to say goodbye. We’ll see.