Final Goodbyes are Never Easy

Just recently, a friend’s was hit and killed as it wandered out on to the highway. With the thought that she might appreciate the words, I shared with her the following story which I had written when our own, our pet dog, passed away. Young or old, pets make a lasting impression, so this is also sent to anyone who has ever had to say that final goodbye.


“Little darling, it’s been a long, cold, lonely winter”

        Here comes the Sun by The Beatles


What’s the big deal about pets?


It had been 30 minutes since I left the veterinarian’s office – our old black Lab of 13 years had to be put down. All around me now, the patrons of Tim’s coffee shop are going about their early morning ritual; I stare vacantly out the window waiting for my wife to meet up with me on this bleak winter’s day.


Earlier we were loading our old dog into the van which, almost certainly, would be the last time we would see him. Before leaving, my wife looked into his unresponsive eyes and wept.


It had come on suddenly. Just a day earlier our dog had been his tail-wagging, bright-eyed, and what we called his “yuppie-the-puppy” self – a bit slowed down with age, but still, robust.


Yet during these past 24 hours, he refused to eat, went into the dry (and not so dry) heaves; when he could hardly get up to do his morning constitutionals – in fact, laid down in the cold snow motionless – it seemed he knew, even if we didn’t want to believe it, his time had come.


I tried lifting him, but with almost 85 pounds of dead weight, it was too much for me. However, as if in one final effort to please, he miraculously raised his head and wobbled to his feet. And, with a last great painful effort, he slowly stumbled his way back to the porch some 30 feet away. What more could the poor old guy do for me? I was humbled by this final act of bravery.


Dr. Rick arrived early at his vet clinic and verified officially our collective consensus: euthanasia. With the big dog’s head in my hands, I said goodbye and felt his response by the exhaust of breath from his nostrils across my face – the last of his once mighty strength faded away.


So what’s the big deal about pets? Plenty! The shining eyes so happy to see you: as warm and reassuring as a sunny day in spring. I ask… who else would put up with our mood swings and inflated egos? Not many. Pets are as constant in their love as the North Star.


And who really is the master? I suggest it’s our pets that set the best human example, to which we can only aspire. When I look out my window at four-legged foot tracks in the snow I’m reminded of their lasting impact on our lives. The rain may wash away any obvious trace, but never the imprints they make on our hearts.


Looking down at my now empty paper coffee cup, the message on it tells me to “Roll up the rim to win!” – which I do – and smile at the message:  “Please play again”.


“Here comes the sun and I say, ‘It’s all right’”

Here comes the Sun by The Beatles




Fred Parry / (2013)

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