Some people will never understand the trauma of losing a pet. Until you’ve loved one, how could you understand?
My youngest sister and her family lost one of their two yorkies today. My sister texted me this morning, knowing that I would want to know that Max had died and also knowing I would totally understand. Our dogs are not our pets; they are full-fledged members of our families. Even more than that, they are the unconditional members of our families. No one has a choice about which family he or she is born into, and neither do dogs have a choice about which family adopts them. Nevertheless, they cheerfully accept whatever meager scraps of love they’re offered and never complain that a family down the street might have been a better deal.
All those times we mistreat our pets by leaving them alone all day, forgetting to arrange for timely meals, or dismissing their pleas for love because we’re busy or distracted, those all go by the wayside as soon as we award them a smile. The tails go up and side to side, completely forgiving and forgetting the neglect we might have imposed upon them, those of no choice. They never question, never doubt, never walk away. They simply seek our love and approval and express their joy when they get it.
Max was a special dog, too. Yorkies are known for their ability to smile. I’m not joking. He literally pulled his lips back and smiled as he wagged his little stub-tail and butt from side to side. He was especially happy when my husband would visit. My husband, Chuck, is also known as “the dog whisperer” because dogs instantly love him. Max really loved Chuck, and he would even smile when I visited alone (because he knew I belong to Chuck). He had the cutest bowed legs, as if he rode a tiny horse. In his last years, he would often just wander off to his bed under the counter when he was too tired to interact any more, but he would cheerfully respond when someone called his name.
My sister isn’t answering calls or my texts; she’s mourning tremendously while trying to logic the irrationality of despondency due to a dog. I’m thinking about Max and anticipating the inevitable nearness of losing my beloved Captain Basco. He’s been suffering lately with pain–we know this because his tail has been down, not in the usual high and wagging position. I don’t know how I’ll function when he goes; I will certainly have to cancel classes because I will be a trembling, sobbing mess.
Recently, a friend posted on Facebook a quotation taken from Winnie the Pooh: “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” (A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh)
That pretty much sums it up.