The most important days…

If you have a dog, there are two important days in its life and ours, one is marked as the happiest day and one is the saddest.  Both have emotions that go to the extreme and both will have an everlasting effects on you and the dog.  The first day is the day you bring a dog into your life whether a puppy or an adult dog and there is much excitement that surrounds the event.   When most people know they will get a dog, they will tell their family, friends and usually purchase all the necessary equipment that goes with it.   Sometimes it might be toys, beds, tennis balls, clothing, chew sticks and a plethora of things for the anticipated day and it’s a great day.  

When we bred Border Collies, even before the pet is born people would visit the parents and future “Mom” and many times, they would bring shirts and blankets to rub on the parents to get the “smell” for their home.  At times, they would also bring photos of the dog’s new home and show me toys that they were getting and this was even more fervent when their puppy was born.  It was a happy day they shared with everyone and when the big day came to go home, everyone was so excited, including the puppy.  Many times I have watched that very car pull away from our driveway and knew it was heaven for the family and it was pure joy to see this happen and life was good.

The second most significant day is when your pet crosses the Rainbow Bridge.  It’s even hard to write the words but it is inevitable and as Jon Kats said speaking from a dog’s point of view, “By now, you must know that there is always a goodbye hovering in the shadows of a dog. We are never here for long, or for long enough. We were never meant to share all of your life, only to mark its passage.”  And they do.

 For whatever reason, I have been swamped with messages and stories from dog parents that have made that dreadful decision this week via emails and notices.  Just Thursday, I was again “tagged” in a post from someone who had made that decision because of necessities and it took me to that time when we had to do the same thing with one of our pets.  We knew that it was time and we had exhausted all of the Vet care that could be done.  The Vet told us, “you will know when it’s time” and now it was, so we made an appointment as soon as we could but it was several days away.  We loved that sweet pet and dreaded the hours until it was time.  It was true hell and especially the last night as we sat and watched TV and he got in my lap but I knew he would be gone the next day and my heart was breaking.  I brought him home and as he laid between Elaine and me, I cried and stroked his fur as we drove home to bury him.   I will never forget the very day we got him and the precise day his life ended, never.  It is so vivid in my mind’s eye, as if both days were yesterday.  I still have his photo on the refrigerator and his bowl in the hutch and it’s been nearly 15 years.

Because I am in several Border Collie circles and even a German Shepherd circle because of Dahlia, I see this sadness often.  It pains me to see, read and even think about the sting they are experiencing.  All in all, we have been very lucky with our dogs but it is inevitable and something we never think about on the happiest day of our life with a new dog or puppy.  One thing I learned from talking and reading about the worst day, it’s OK to grieve over your pet, that’s part of healing your soul.  I won’t say it’s easy because it’s not, at least not to me.

We can’t change the inevitable but we can change how we look and take care of our dogs now, even supporting a rescue or shelter, they were once a family member and need us because we're all they have.   Life has many twist and turns but one thing we can do, is never have any regrets when it comes to our furry friends.   Give your dog what it needs, today… They give so much, more than we can ever imagine but need so little, sometimes just our attention and a pat on the head.

Run free… to all the ones that have crossed before us.  Run to us as we meet again…   Ken

Note: This story was inspired by Pita, a 15 year old Border Collie that went to the Bridge this past Friday… All of the family came to say their goodbyes and had a family meal together with Pita the night before where he got his favorite meal. The Vet arrived at the home the next morning where a blanket was laying at the fireplace and he walked over into the arms of his owner as if saying “I’m ready, thank you for giving me the best 15 years of my life”   After the shot, he was pain free.  It was the second most important day in the life of Pita… pain free...
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