To the man I witnessed on my walk, screaming at his dog and picking him up by his neck in anger after the dog had run ahead of him out the door…
It really bothered me when I witnessed you yell in such anger at your pet and then chase after him and pick him up by his neck. As I took a walk yesterday with my friend, I was walking with a heavy heart. I had just spent some quiet time with my cat Song who only has a short time left with my family. She has an oral tumor. I had just cleaned out the clear drainage from her eye that moistened her nose bridge & turned to God with a tear in my eye and prayed that Song would not suffer and that we would make the decisions that were best for her. I had just knelt down to pet Song and felt barely able to stand up again, as my whole body felt shaky in allowing myself to feel the fear about what comes next. I noticed I was barely breathing as I stood face to face with the frailty and fragility of life.
I tell you this not to make you sad. I tell you this to urge you to celebrate. Celebrate yourself, and celebrate your dog. Celebrate your time together. Celebrate even his misbehaviors, because they are signs of life. When he runs excitedly out the door, forgetting that he’s supposed to wait for you, overcome by the excitement of a beautiful, sunny day, fresh air, and people passing by, call him back and run after him with love in your heart, and then hug him. Hug him, and let him know you care. Let him know your life is better, because he’s with you. Let him know you’ll be with him until the end and will cradle his head as he takes his last breaths, remembering the times you played together and holding close to your heart that still frame of his furry face, reconnecting with that sweet feeling of walking in the door and knowing someone missed you and could not contain his excitement that you were home again.
I am not a judgmental person. I do not wish to criticize your ability to parent your dog, and I do not intend to chastise you as a person. I freely and willingly admit that I have been overwhelmed by life at many points, frustrated when others didn’t listen to me, tired of stuff going wrong again and again. I have screamed, said things I didn’t mean, and have hurt people whom I care about. I’ve been at my wit’s end. I’ve made choices that have been rooted in fear and resentment. I have approached tender hearts with violent words that raged and wounded. I’ve been broken and breathless after life threw incredible twists my way. And eventually, I returned to love. Thankfully, I returned to love.
My letter here is an invitation and a reminder. Please take some time today and look in the eyes of those you love – humans and pets. Simply and quietly say, “I love you.” Say anything else that’s on your heart. Breathe together. Enjoy the sensations as you stroke your lover’s skin or pet your best friend’s fur, and know this moment is a gift that will not always be available to you. Vow to hug more often. Slow down and make time for walks outside and playful exchanges. Remember to laugh at silly things. Appreciate. Wag more and bark less. Purr more and hiss less. Forgive. Allow for mistakes – on others’ part and on your part. And if you are a person who prays, please offer up a prayer for my cat Song and for me and for every pet who is facing health challenges and approaches his or her final days. Send some positive energy out to those pet parents who are taking their dogs for that final walk and loading their cats into a carrier to get that lethal injection because the suffering has grown too unbearable and there is no cure. And I will think of you in a wave of compassion and bless you and your dog. Thank you for reading this, and thank you for inspiring my reflection and my recommitment to love across the board.
Copyright © 2014 by Susan M. Featro, Voice Lifted. All Rights Reserved.