This weekend I found myself emotional for several reasons. First, I watched the movie Max about a military dog that clings to his deceased handlers coffin (ugly cry). The second reason I got a little weepy was because my dad's dog is nearing the end of her life. Nell is a Vizsla and although I'm not a hunter, she has been a great hunting dog and companion for my dad in his retirement years. I've observed over the last 12 months, a steady decline in her health. She was diagnosed with diabetes, cataracts and struggles with incontinence. She has lost at least half of her weight and appears lethargic at times. We have talked about her quality of life and although she isn't her youthful self, she isn't in pain and wags her tail whenever she meets a squirrel. She is part of the family, as all animals should be- and has been given every comfort from fluffy jackets to gravy on her food. Her greatest comfort is my dad, and she his.
On the phone yesterday, my dad and I reflected on the harshness of a dog's short life. Both of us remembered past pets, loves lost and the decision to let them go when the time comes. We both cried when thinking about this beautiful and unconditional love a dog holds for their human companion. How much they give to us with so little in expected in return. I feel so thankful for the animals I have been blessed with in my life. I'm thankful for the black Lab our family had when I was a child, Chula. I'm thankful for the puppy I got to pick out in sixth grade- our Brittany spaniel, Freckles. My sweet lab, Boston terrier, shar pei mix Oryan- who made my 20's colorful and swimming with love. Lastly, my golden retriever Maslow, given to me as a gift when I finished grad school. She suffers anxiety and has the most bizarre quirks of any animal since Paul Anka on Gilmore Girls. Still, she would protect me and my daughter with her very life and smiles, really smiles all the time. For whatever vacant room lives in her head, it is full of love for us and her pet cat Pancakes (yes, Pancakes with an 's').
and her cat Pancakes...
Today I reflect on the gratitude I have for my fuzzy family because what would we be without animals?? They teach us love, patience and laughter every day. For the 8 million times I have to vacuum to keep up with Maslow's shedding, for all the poop and waking me up at 4 a.m. biting her nails- I wouldn't trade her for the world. Take a minute to reflect on your own fuzzies. Give them an extra snuggle. Before you know it, they lose their light and we only have their memory.