30 May, 2012

How Could You?

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My brother-in-law showed this to me yesterday and I cried as I read it. I warn you now, it’s a very sad story but it spreads such an important message that I had to share it. I know it’s a bit long but PLEASE read it to the end, it’s SUCH an important message.
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When I was a puppy I entertained you with my antics and made you laugh. You called me your child and despite the number of chewed shoes and a couple of murdered throw pillows, I became your best friend. Whenever I was ‘bad’ you’d shake your finger at me and ask “How could you?” – but then you’d relent and roll me over for a belly rub. My housebreaking took a little longer than expected because you were terribly busy, but we worked on that together.

I remember those nights of nuzzling you in bed and listening to your confidences and secret dreams and I believed that life could not be any more perfect. We went for long walks and runs in the park, car rides and stops for ice cream (I only got the cone because “ice cream is bad for dogs” you said) and I took long naps in the sun waiting for you to come home at the end of the day.

Gradually you began spending more time at work and on your career, and more time searching for a human mate. I waited for you patiently, comforted you through your heartbreaks and disappointments, never chided you about bad decisions and romped with glee at your homecomings and when you fell in love. She, now your wife, is not a ‘dog person’ – still I welcomed her into our home, tried to show her affection and obeyed her. I was happy because you were happy.

Then the human babies came along and I shared your excitement. I was fascinated by their pinkness, how they smelled, and I wanted to mother them too. Only she and you worried that I might hurt them, and I spent most of my time banished to another room or to a dog crate. Oh, how I wanted to love them, but I became a ‘prisoner of love’.

As they began to grow, I became their friend. They clung to my fur and pulled themselves up on wobbly legs, poked fingers in my eyes, investigated my ears and gave me kisses on my nose. I loved everything about them and their touch, because your touch was now so infrequent, and I would have defended them with my life if need be. I would sneak into their beds and listen to their worries and secret dreams and together we waited for the sound of your car in the driveway.

There had been a time when others asked you if you had a dog, that you produced a photo of me from your wallet and told them stories about me. These past few years you just answered “yes” and changed the subject. I had gone from being ‘your dog’ to ‘just a dog’ and you resented every expenditure on my behalf.

Now you have a career opportunity in another city and you and they will be moving to an apartment that does not allow pets. You’ve made the right decision for your ‘family’ but there was a time when I was your only family. I was excited about the car ride until we arrived at the animal shelter. It smelled of dogs and cats, of fear and of hopelessness.

You filled out the paperwork and said “I know you will find a good home for her”. They shrugged and gave you a pained look. They understand the realities facing a middle-aged dog, even one with ‘papers’. You had to pry your son’s fingers loose from my collar as he screamed “No, Daddy! Please don’t let them take my dog!” and I worried about him and what lessons you had just taught him about friendship and loyalty, about love and responsibility and about respect for all life. You gave me a goodbye pat on the head, avoided my eyes and politely refused to take my collar and leash with you. You had a deadline to meet and now, I have one too.

They are as attentive to us here in the shelter as their busy schedules will allow. They feed us of course, but I lost my appetite days ago. At first, whenever anyone passed by my pen I rushed to the front hoping it was you, that you had changed your mind, that this was all a bad dream…or I hoped it would at least be someone who cared, anyone who might save me. When I realised I could not compete with the frolicking attention of happy puppies, oblivious to their fate, I retreated to a far corner and waited.

I heard her footsteps as she came for me at the end of the day and I padded along the aisle after her to a separate room. A blissfully quiet room. She placed me on the table and rubbed my ears and told me not to worry. My heart pounded in anticipation of what was to come, but there was also a sense of relief. The prisoner of love had run out of days. As is my nature, I was more concerned about her.

The burden which she bears weighs heavily on her and I know that, the same way I knew your every mood. She gently placed a tourniquet around my foreleg as a tear ran down her cheek. I licked her hand in the same way I used to comfort you so many years ago. She expertly slid the hypodermic needle into my vein. As I felt the sting and the cool liquid coursing through my body I lay down sleepily, looked into her kind eyes and murmured “How could you?”

Perhaps because she understood my dog speak she said, “I’m so sorry”. She hugged me and hurriedly explained it was her job to make sure I went to a better place, where I wouldn’t be ignored or abused or abandoned or have to fend for myself. A place of love and light so very different from this earthly place. And with my last bit of energy, I tried to convey to her with a thump of my tail that my ‘how could you?’ was not directed at her. It was you, My Beloved Master, I was thinking of. I will think of you and wait for you forever.

May everyone in your life continue to show you so much loyalty.

- Jim Willis, 2011

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This is the composite story of millions of formerly owned pets who die in animal shelters each year. One of the main reasons dogs are abandoned is lack of information and knowledge prospective buyers have.

Another reason is because owners fail to obedience train or have unrealistic expectations of their pet. So please, make sure you know enough about the breed’s basic characteristics, temperament, requirements and basic training before buying that cute little puppy that will eventually grow into an adult dog.

Bringing home a pet is a lifelong responsibility and commitment, please make sure you consider this before buying or adopting.

1 comments (+add yours?)

Anonymous said...

So sad!

What grinds my gears is the amount of accommodation that does not allows pets. And the amount of places that don't allow dogs. In Germany I witness dogs being walked all over the city, in malls, inside shopping centres, on the trams. I wish Australia were more dog friendly.

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