He was my friend, companion, anchor and teacher. He was my saviour as I was his. He was the one true constant during a time of uncertainty. He offered me his heart and I gently took it with both hands. It was the start of a bond which has stood the test of time and has only ever grown stronger. I never had to look for him because he was always by my side. He entwined himself into my heart and soul to the point where it was impossible to say where he ended and I began, a relationship that remains impossible to unravel. He was that rarest of creatures, a once in a lifetime dog whose very existence centred solely around me just as mine centred solely around him. Each day was an adventure. It didn’t matter where we went or what we did just so long as we did it together. We were never apart and shared every day, every experience together.
He fell asleep taking a part of me with him, a part that will only be returned once life has come full circle and we can start a new journey together. He will wait for me as I would him but until then, we will be together in dreams.
He was my rock, he was my Brother, he was My Shadow.
Unknown – 1st May 2014
For centuries now, dogs and humans have been together which often begs the question, why are we such companions? After all, dogs bark, dig, lick, get worms, fleas and ticks and steal burgers from the BBQ given half the chance. They have to be fed, bathed, brushed, walked, played with and watered. They have to be trained to do their business outside and then it is up to us to clean it up. Dogs need attention, loving care, training, good nutrition, bathing, vaccines, flea, tick and worm treatment, nail trims, playtime, and a clean, warm place to sleep. They need a veterinarian and must be cared for when you go away for the night or a weekend. Today the human and dog bond is stronger than ever. People spend billions of pounds each year on their dogs without blinking an eye. They are an example to all of how to say thank you to man’s best friend.
A loved and well cared for dog will do anything to protect their human and will sometimes die for them. They warn us of danger, they are among the heroes after a disaster. They find the dead for a proper burial and the living who are covered with so much rubble or snow that no human could ever find them without the advanced nose of the dog. Stories about canine heroes are in the thousands and occur each day. Our lives are richer, happier, and so much better with our dog. For decades dogs have been guiding the blind and deaf creating a quality of life not found with any other animal. Dogs help people with anxiety and calm children and adults with autism, bi-polar disorders and other challenges. By simply petting a dog, a human becomes more relaxed and their blood pressure drops.
Dogs warn us when someone is at the door or when an intruder has entered the house. They sniff out bombs and drugs and seem to know when someone has ill intent. Dogs are looking out for us at all times, always on alert. Dogs are the ultimate protectors. They are indeed man’s best friend and bring out the best in people. The love for a dog can bring tears to the eyes of the most jaded and hardened person. When you bring a dog into your life, you begin a journey – a journey that will bring you more love and devotion than you have ever known, yet will also test your strength and courage. If you allow, the journey will teach you many things about life, about yourself, and most of all, about love. You will come away changed forever for one soul cannot touch another without leaving its mark. Along the way, you will learn much about savoring life’s simple pleasures – jumping in leaves, snoozing in the sun, the joys of water puddles, and even the satisfaction of a good scratch behind the ears.
Dogs are our family members now more than ever. People sleep with their dogs, cuddle with them and take them on holiday. They pamper their dogs, dress their dogs and buy them only the best dog food available. We thank our dogs every day for their love, companionship and individual personality. We adore our dogs and they in turn adore us.
If you spend much time outside, a dog will teach you how to truly experience every element, for no rock, leaf, or log will go unexamined, no rustling bush will be overlooked, and even the very air will be inhaled, pondered, and noted as being full of valuable information. Your pace may be slower, except when heading home to the food dish, but you will become a better naturalist, having been taught by an expert in the field. Too many times we hike on automatic pilot, our goal being to complete the trail rather than enjoy the journey. We miss the details, such as the colorful mushrooms on the rotting log, the color of the leaves, the bird feather caught on a twig. You will find yourself doing silly things that your pet-less friends may not understand, such as driving miles to a particular pet shop looking for the dog food brand your canine must have, buying dog birthday treats or driving around longer than need be simply because your dog enjoys the ride. You will roll in the snow, wrestle with chewy toys, bounce little rubber balls until your eyes cross and even run around the house trailing your bathrobe tie with a puppy in hot pursuit, all in the name of love. Your house will become muddier and hairier. You will wear less dark clothing and buy more lint rollers. You may find dog biscuits in your pocket or purse. You will learn the true measure of love, the steadfast, undying kind that says, “It doesn’t matter where we are or what we do, or how life treats us as long as we are together.” Respect this always. It is the most precious gift any living soul can give another and you will not find it often among the human race.
You will learn humility. A dog sees not some flawed human who can be cross and stubborn, moody or rude, but only his wonderful companion. Or maybe he sees those things and dismisses them as mere human foibles, not worth considering and so chooses to love you anyway. Dogs love you when you’re happy, sad or angry. It seems they love you more when you’re lonely or don’t feel well. Mostly, they just want to be with their human. Your dog is a family member and they trust you to care for them. Do a good job and the rewards are priceless.
When the journey is done, you will be not just a better person, but the person your pet always knew you to be, the one it was proud to call beloved friend. This journey however is not without pain. Like all paths of true love, this pain is part of loving for as surely as the sun sets, one day your dear animal companion will follow a trail you cannot yet go down and you will have to find the strength and love to let them go. A dog’s time on earth is far too short, especially for those that love them. We borrow them just for a while and during these brief years they are generous enough to give us all their love, every inch of their spirit and heart until one day there is nothing left. The dog that only yesterday was a puppy is all too soon old and frail and sleeping in the sun. The young pup of boundless energy now wakes up stiff and lame, the muzzle gone to gray.
When the life of a dog passes, grieving is often deeper and more devastating than when people close to us die. Perhaps this is because the dog gives us unyielding, unconditional love and devotion through its entire lifetime. No other species of living thing on Earth, including human beings, possesses the capacity to give so much, demand so little and forgive so quickly. What a unique blessing dog’s are! When we lose our friend and companion, we inevitably ask ourselves, “Did this dog have a soul? Was his life on Earth his last? Does his spirit move up and on to a higher place?” After having given us the rare gift of his life, surely the dog must move on to an eternal place. Theologians and religious scholars are reluctant to decide, so for most, the question remains unanswered. I have known too many dogs in a special way that I have never known people. My heart knows the answer.
When the time comes and the road curves ahead to a place we cannot see, we give one final gift and let them run on ahead, young and whole once more. Deep down we somehow always knew that this journey would end. We knew that if we gave our hearts they would be broken but give them we must, for it is all they ask in return.
God speed good friend, until our journey comes full circle and our paths cross once again