February 18th 2008 6:46 pm
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A man in Grand Rapids, Michigan incredibly took out a $7000 full page ad in
the paper to present the following essay to the people of his community.
HOW COULD YOU?
By Jim Willis, 2001
When I was a puppy, I entertained you with my antics and made you laugh. You called me your child, and despite a 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 bellyrub.
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, 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 heartbreaks and disappointments, never chided you about bad
decisions, and romped with glee at your homecomings, and when you fell in
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've 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 new 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, 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 for 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 good-bye 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. After you left, the two nice ladies said you probably
knew about your upcoming move months ago and made no attempt to find me
another good home. They shook their heads and asked, "How could you?"
They are as attentive to us here in the shelter as their busy schedules allow. They feed us, of course, but I lost my appetite days ago. At first, whenever anyone passed 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 realized I could not compete with the frolicking for attention of
happy puppies, oblivious to their own 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 dogspeak, 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 directed at you, My Beloved Master, I was thinking of you. I will think of you and wait for you forever. May everyone in your life continue to show you so much loyalty.
A Note from the Author: If "How Could You?" brought tears to your eyes as you read it, as it did to mine as I wrote it, it is because it is the composite story of the millions of formerly "owned" pets who die each year in American & Canadian animal shelters. Please use this to help educate, on your websites, in newsletters, on animal shelter and vet office bulletin boards. Tell the public that the decision to add a pet to the family is an important one for life, that animals deserve our love and sensible care, that finding another appropriate home for your animal is your responsibility and any local humane society or animal welfare league can offer you good advice, and that all life is precious. Please do your part to stop the killing, and encourage all spay & neuter campaigns in
order to prevent unwanted animals.
Remember...They love UNCONDITIONALLY
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