Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Dogs are a gift from the Gods

They are our companions, our guardians, our 'best friends'. In their brief lives, they teach us so much about loyalty, devotion, love, and trust. Dogs and mankind have been together for thousands of years, benefiting from each other in a way unlike that of other animals and man. They work for us, guard us, and keep us from being lonely, asking only to be loved and cared for in exchange. Dogs come in a variety of shapes and colours, are very large to very small. Some people enjoy the company of their dogs more than they do other people, for this reason: dogs love unconditionally.

Sadly, not every dog is lucky enough to have a good human, who will truly take care of him or her with love and attention. Some are bred to fight, to become vicious, to have their natures twisted and turned through pain and abuse. If they're lucky, and are not beyond the power of love, they may be saved and rehabilitated. Many neglected or abused dogs are skittish, afraid, but over time can learn to trust humans again.

With care, dogs may live for many years, depending on the breed. But with companionship comes a responsibility that is both necessary and horrible. Dogs, like us, age and become infirm. Although sometimes they die naturally, there comes a time when debilitation or illness puts them in pain, and we don't want to see them suffer. At that time, we go to a veterinarian and ask that the dog be put to death in the gentlest way possible. Oh, there are lots of euphemisms, 'put to sleep', 'put down', 'sent to the farm' (ever popular when speaking to children), and of course the clinical term of euthanasia. But essentially, we take them and kill them. But it is to prevent their suffering further. And it is a kindness that we deny ourselves and our human loved ones, who languish and suffer horribly in the name of human lives being more important than animal ones.

It is a very sad thing to lose a dog to time. But the important thing is to remember the love, the hope, the unconditional devotion shared over the dog's lifetime. As long as we have memories, they are alive within us, and never really leave. In time the emptiness fades a bit, although there is always a place within us where the feeling of loss is carried. And we are so much the better for having had the experience of being with them at all.

No comments: