Nearly 16 years ago, my young family and I said goodbye to what was, in essence, our first baby – a white lab named Kala who had tragically developed cancer at the much too young age of four. This week, our similarly colored labrador, Penny, lost her battle with time and the indignities of old age. If you are a pet lover, you know how difficult it is to let go, balancing the reticence of “playing God” with quality of life.
A few months ago, I came across the “Ten Commandments for Pets” written by Stan Rawlinson, Dog Behaviourist and Obedience Trainer. You can visit his website and articles at http://www.doglistener.co.uk/. His following thoughts and words are touching, brilliant and apropos for life and loss, describing so well the special bond and unconditional love that our pets provide. Thank you, Stan. This week, I am at a loss for words.
- My life is likely to last 10-15 years; any separation from you will be painful for me. Remember that before you buy me.
- Give me time to understand what you want from me; don’t be impatient, short-tempered, or irritable.
- Place your trust in me and I will always trust you back. Respect is earned not given as an inalienable right.
- Don’t be angry with me for long and don’t lock me up as punishment; I am not capable of understanding why. I only know I have been rejected. You have your work, entertainment, and friends, but I only have you.
- Talk to me sometimes. Even if I don’t understand your words, I do understand your voice and your tone. You only have to look at my tail.
- Be aware that however you treat me, I’ll never forget it, and if it’s cruel, it may affect me forever.
- Please don’t hit me. I can’t hit back, but I can bite and scratch, and I really don’t ever want to do that.
- Before you scold me for being uncooperative, obstinate, or lazy, ask yourself if something might be bothering me. Perhaps I’m not getting the right foods or I’ve been out in the sun too long, or my heart is getting old and weak. It may be I am just dog-tired.
- Take care of me when I get old. You too will grow old and may also need love, care, comfort, and attention.
- Go with me on difficult journeys. Never say, “I can’t bear to watch” or “Let it happen in my absence”. Everything is easier for me if you are there. Remember, regardless of what you do, I will always love you.