The world lost a great dog yesterday.
My parent’s black lab of 12 years is gone. As dogs go, this one was quite special. He trained as a seeing-eye puppy, but was unable to make the program because of an elbow problem. He was lovable, obedient, and smart. He survived cancer.
There’s no way I can understand the mourning my parents are feeling, but I will one day.
My wife and I have three cats. They are the cats I’ve always wanted. They are affectionate, playful, quirky, and seem to yearn to be around us all the time. I often remind myself that they will likely only spend around 15 years or so with us. I find myself visualizing their deaths, my wife and I softly petting them as the life inside them slips away. Why I torture myself with these thoughts, I don’t know. Maybe I’m just trying to prepare myself. To soften the blow whenever it comes. Admittedly, I’m terrified of that moment. Of those three moments.
It makes me wonder sometimes whether the awfulness of having to say goodbye is worth having such a special bond with an animal. And I do think there is a special bond. When our boy cat, Uzi, is sitting in my lap and purring, in an obvious state of bliss, my wife likes to say, “He loves you as much as a cat can love a human.” I find that wonderful.
That’s why I hate to think that they will be scared or hurting in any way when their deaths are near. I never believed in any sort of animal extrasensory perception until we had our cats, specifically Evie (who we call “The Smartest One”). Anyone who has ever been around me during a UF football game knows that I am an inconsolable ball of tension. Evie knows it too. She will find a spot next to me and make a strange sort of meow all during the game that she never makes during any other situation. I’m convinced she is either trying to be protective of me or console me. I have no doubt that she senses something is different about me. Of course, there are also the numerous accounts of animals alerting humans before weather events, of them waking their owners during house fires, etc. The cat from Doctor Sleep was based off of a real case. I think there is some sort of understanding there. Something we can never really know about.
I don’t really know how to wrap this up. I guess I’ll just say that it’s worth it. The enrichment of our lives it worth the pain we feel when our beloved animals finally pass away. Maybe that offers a shred of comfort during this time of sadness. I also think, on some rudimentary level, the animals would say that it’s worth it as well. Because I think Sunshine loved my parents as much as a dog can love a human.