Pets Teach Us to Love

That pets enrich our lives is axiomatic.   Psychiatric studies have demonstrated that being loving to our pets, the act of petting them, and the overt actions of caring for them, lower our blood pressure and enhance our emotional stability. Teaching children to be kind to animals would not only make infinitely more kind and happier adults, it would surely have averted many a serial killer – or a beastly, despicable wife-beater.  Although I’ve had pets all my life, I learned to love them from my wife, Lyn – who forced me to bring two dogs and two cats into our home “to help our children learn to care for and about others”.  Wise to a fault, she generally proves correct, and I, and my children, were much the beneficiaries.  Below, you’ll read the much abridged emotions that were evoked on the day that we lost our dear Laddie. Something similar could, and should, have been written for each our departed canine and feline jewels. (Although cats are not as demonstrative with their affections, one of many cats, Bob, slept on my chest many a night, and I feel the presence of his absence to this decades-later day.) The tribute below must suffice to reflect the joys and bitter regrets that rush like water over falls, enveloping our writing faces, when we must say, “Goodbye” to these ever-loving and infinitely lovable creatures.

February 25, 2013 was a very sad day at our home.  We lost another beloved pet, our unique, priceless and never-to-be-forgotten black and white Border Collie, Laddie. We have lost many in our long lives and our bereaved hearts convulsed in agony for each, a price none too high for the infinite joy that each has brought us and whose memories still bring us. That, his last day, our Laddie could barely move, and he suffered so; kindness mandated his departure. This Tribute, written with tear-stained cheeks, is Laddie’s way of saying, “Goodbye” to each of you, those copied and discretely blind copied, with our eulogy for him, and, now, to those who choose to read my observations online.  Above all, it stands as a token memorial to all our pets, and to yours, past, present – and future.

Laddie’s irrepressible spirit will live in our hearts as long as we breathe. We shall never forget the day that he saved our long-departed Collie-Lyle’s life, by leading us to Lyle, when Lyle was drowning for want of eyesight to find the steps out of our pool – a story once featured in London’s Home for Dog’s, Battersea’s, Paws Magazine. Laddie’s uncanny, human-like intelligence, ravishing beauty, delicate grace, and ubiquitous mach-speed frolicking will never leave our minds’ eyes. I shall never forget hours of playing catch and hide and seek with him in our yard. Tears must and do abound -- most of all, perhaps, from our dear friend and Property Manager, Mark Costello, with whom Laddie has slept in recent years. Laddie now joins Lyn’s and my legion of beloved pups, Larry, Doug, Lyle, and Hossie. Lyn’s memory and mine, of course, extend to others from our earliest days, each still loved and ever missed.

Laddie came to us 14 years ago from the inspirationally loving Battersea Home for Dogs, in London, which also gave us our now remaining Best Friends, Bobby and Lance. Battersea has thus given us a veritable lifetime of joy, for which we extend our eternal gratitude. Having Bobby and Lance to comfort us helps greatly, of course, but with similar ages, their treasured presence, like ours, is tenuous, too, and Laddie's departure is an ill-harbinger for his "brothers", Bobby and Lance, the threads of which foreboding risks I cannot here hide.

Our best tribute to Laddie, of course, remains our determination to find another wonderfully loving pet to walk where Laddie once did and who will surely win our hearts, too, in myriad unique and endearing ways, as did Laddie’s predecessors in our home. There are so many loving creatures who need us – and whom we need ever more.

Life’s clock inexorably ticks, and the muted colors of the rusting leaves of Fall implacably drift, wistfully, to life’s turf, ever so gently, stealing like whispers from our longing presence, resonating silent love and priceless, tender memories, drying our impassioned tears and enveloping and comforting our bereaved and leaden hearts.  To recall Anthony's lament of Caesar's passing, our hearts lie in the ground with Laddie, and we must pause till they return to us.

Lee, 20 February 2013

Post Script: Perhaps the most important message from the above is this: We do not do the world or its wonderful creatures justice, if we so mourn our departed pets that we do not find others to supplant them. Just as we are able to love multiple children with equal intensity; so, too, can we love multiple pets with comparable fervor. While one pet’s paws can never fill those of another, there are many pets in need of our love – and, we, even more, are in need of theirs. It is not disloyal to love other, new pets; it is, rather, a great tribute to our departed ones.  It proves that we truly care about all of our needy friends.  When we love, truly love, we want joy for our loved ones and they, reciprocally, want no less for us.  Love is infinite supply. Its only limitation is our capacity and willingness to open our hearts freely. So, we must, and we shall, replace Laddie as we have his predecessors, but none shall detract one whit from our fond memories of those to whom we have bid our tear-choked farewells.