Because I'm- Duncan, that's- why
|Barked: Fri Jan 13, '12 9:42pm PST |
|* Surrounded by my compassionate co-workers at the vet office, I held Duncan as he was euthanized on January 2, 2012. Since he's not here to "write" this post, I decided to write a letter to him...
"Duncan, you taught me so much. You were my first dog, and I had everything to learn. The fates blessed me to find you, a wise old soul even then as a puppy of 8 weeks, and I could not have had a better teacher.
You taught me what it means to have a dog: that incomparable, incorruptible bond that I had not known possible. You taught me what dogs need and all they are willing to give in return. You taught me, yes, about animal shelters and the worlds connected therein -- an education which began, crystalline, with my wide eyed question to the good ol' boy running the rural Virginia shelter where I found you that day: 'But why? Why are these puppies here in this shelter?'
With you, Duncan, I learned what it takes to raise and train a puppy. Wow, it was a hard lesson. And I am sure I made many mistakes. But you were so forgiving.
Not only did you forgive, but in spite of my bumbling, you came into your own as a great dog. Easy-going, happy, friendly, plucky, never moody, issue-free. Our life together, for our many good years, was a celebration, our glory days were truly glorious. So many hikes and walks, exploring sandy canyons and mountain woodlands, with you joyfully slurping at the streams and creeks. Back in town, you'd accompany me to social visits with friends, and to sidewalk cafes. And you even came to work with me at some of my jobs. In fact I think you were convinced that I only worked so that I could bring you to your daily dog party of sniffing sagebrush, meeting new humans and dogs, romping around and enjoying the weather - no matter if it was sunny and hot, or wind or snow. Oh, and the fostering started up too - you didn't mind that a bit, either. You never met a dog you didn't like. In your older years, you got a little impatient with puppies, but you were a good communicator and teacher for them, too. The fosters came and went from our house and you were a kind host and friend to them all.
I remember fondly, too, our partnership in providing Pet Assisted Therapy. I felt so proud of you and your amazing instincts, as you were bringing comfort to the lonely elderly in nursing homes, and cheer to sick children in the hospital and their worried, exhausted families. You so loved your 'job,' too. You were a dog who liked a lot of attention and affection. Come to think of it, you never met a human you didn't like, either.
In your final years, in your passing, you had lessons to teach me still. About death and dignity and mercy. Perhaps, I fear, I waited too long while you merely survived without truly living. Allowed for days, weeks and months to pass as you lingered, declined, withered. All this for the wrong reasons; not for your sake (though I may have told myself otherwise, sometimes), and not because I was too attached to let go. Because I was afraid. Afraid of death itself, and of taking that ultimate responsibility.
I hope that you can forgive me this one last time. I hope you are now back in those aspen woods, your eyes clear, your nose keen, and that you will remember all the full and happy days together. Those are the ones that I will remember and think on, too. Though I will remember all your lessons, and try to do my best with my life and my other dogs now and in the future.
And Duncan....you will always be my puppy."
Edited by author Fri Jan 13, '12 9:50pm PST
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