A Heartbreaking Canine Love Story

On account of my wedding, there’s been plenty of joyful posts about love recently. Today I want to share a heartbreaking, but equally profound lesson I recently learned about love.

Last week I took the pups to the vet for a Canine Influenza booster. Unfortunately the vaccine was formulated for a different strain than the one currently affecting Chicago, Indiana, Wisconsin and the Midwest. But since there’s some chance of cross-protection we went ahead with the shots. Eko and Penny are thankfully both still healthy and happy.

While waiting at the vet, Eko and Penny were enamored with a beautiful Pyrenees-mix pup

The woman with the puppy told me she just rescued him the weekend before from a shelter in Kansas City. While we spoke, the sweet/shy puppy jumped into the woman’s lap for a big cuddle. The moment brought a flood of memories back to me about my first days with a new dog.

There’s excitement

But there’s also plenty of nervousness

You worry about the pup and hope they are healthy and promise to take care of them when they’re not

Then there’s the joy of watching a dog become your dog, a loyal and loving companion

In that one cuddle I saw all those emotions in that woman, and I saw all the love the rescued pup already had for her. But I also saw something else – a deep pain. Unprompted, the woman told me her healthy, five-year-old dog had just died a few weeks prior from complications from Canine Influenza.

The woman picked up her dog from boarding after a short vacation. The next day the dog was lethargic. Despite rushing him to the vet, the dog didn’t make it.

I nearly burst into tears when I heard the story, so I don’t know how she held it together. I suspect it had something to do with the loving puppy she held in her lap. “I feel like I can just now start talking about it,” the woman said while holding the rescue tight.

Of course, it was the pup who had come to rescue this woman. It’s an old turn of phrase, but it never seemed more apt to me then in that moment. To have your heart ripped out and to then find the courage to risk it anew is to teach a powerful lesson about how we should live.

My teachers

The woman and I only spoke briefly, but the moment was so tragic, uplifting, sad, hopeful, broken and perfect. There are few better instructors in love, loss and humanity than our dogs. Now please excuse me while I go give my two a big hug.

37 Comments

Wow! She truly is a brave woman. It took me 10 years, after my mom’s dog died, for me to get a dog. But even after those 10 years, I fought like hell not to get another dog. The pain was so real and so palpable even after 10 years that it took a lot of convincing and pleading from Cynthia for me to finally say yes. As you can see, unlike that brave woman you met, I chose the easy, painless way out, because I did not want to feel that pain again. Brave I was not, but I learned my lesson, and I promised myself that from now and on a canine companion will always be in my life.

Losing one of your family can be heartbreaking and it does take time to heal. Poignant story – hitting close to home as my sister’s dog Taj is very, very sick right now and may not make it…we’re hoping for the best.

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