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April 29, 2015

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
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.

Comments for A Heartbreaking Canine Love Story

  1. my tears were running too… but I’m sure that this pup came to her was a sign or karma… They sometimes can do wonders… like Easy some years ago… think he should get a hug too, right?

  2. Mona Sigal says:

    Thank you for the beautiful blog today. I use my personal Facebook page 95% for animal rescue posts. My heart has been shattered a thousand times over and over again by the horrific stories of neglect and abuse out there. RESCUING dogs ( and cats, and all kinds of animals) is the only act of human redemption.
    When I hear people mourn the loss of a beloved pet and say, that they cannot adopt again, because they don;t want their hearts broken (again), I say: you haven’t learned a single thing from your pet.

  3. Most definitely the question here is who rescued whom? No doubt that puppy is a big-time hero to his mistress as she is to him. Lovely sweet story, Will. Thank you for sharing. It’s puts life into full perspective. 🙂

  4. Victoria says:

    Wow great story – my mom recently passed and i have to tell you my two pups have been there for me and made my grief so much easier to bear – there is nothing like the love of your dogs -be they new to the family or not – to help heal a broken heart

  5. Ogee says:

    Thank goodness for people like her. I’m so sorry for her loss. And so grateful for her heart. Amazing how a brief encounter can deliver such a powerful lesson. Thanks for sharing, Will.

  6. KarenS says:

    Tears welling up and wishing I wasn’t at the office so that I too could hug my boys right now. ;(

    We are so lucky to have our pets in our world even though they leave us way too quickly. Thank you for reminding us again just how important it is to enjoy each day with them.

  7. Dana says:

    Thanks for that…

  8. meANXIETYme says:

    Beautiful story, Will. Thanks for sharing it. And for reminding us that there is always room for more love, even when a part of our heart is forever broken.

  9. raisingdaisy says:

    How heartbreaking. I wouldn’t have been able to tell that story if I were in her shoes. I couldn’t even mention my last dog to anyone for quite some time after she passed, and my friends are the same way when something happens to their pets. We tell each other the story once through many tears, then ask not to bring it up again until we’re ready. After that period of time passes, we can again talk about our pets with smiles…and maybe a bit of a chin tremble…

  10. dogdaz says:

    Great post. They definitely are our teachers if we listen.

  11. nerdgrl (Kim S.) says:

    It’s still difficult for us to talk about Steffi, nearly a year after she crossed the Rainbow Bridge. I can’t imagine what the woman was going through, having a healthy dog succumb so quickly. She’s obviously got a HUGE heart to be able to adopt/rescue so quickly. We are awaiting word as to whether we will be puppy parents come June; we’re second on the list for a female mini schnauzer (same as Steffi) and the mama is due any day. Once again, congrats on your wedding; can’t wait to see the pics…and I’m sooooo glad the pups were able to make a cameo appearance!

  12. Kismet says:

    The peeps knew Kyla didn’t have long to go, so they rescued Kali as her replacement beforehand and it’s worked out fine except they still have “Kyla moments” 4½ months later.

  13. Oh my tiny heart. That poor woman. She is a blessing, though. She saved that news pup’s life <3

  14. Cathy & Banjo says:

    We just have to love our pups all we can, while we can. We never know how much time we have, so all our moments with them are priceless. It is heartwarming to know there will always be pups to love.

  15. Emmadog says:

    So sad! We don’t want to live in fear, but we are responsible about the flu. Hopefully we won’t get it, but we can’t become shut ins either. I know Mom isn’t letting us hang out with many other dogs these days, but I’m more of a loner anyway, so it doesn’t bother me much.

  16. Cupcake says:

    So sad. We doggies are the best teachers ever. We teach a lot about love, resilience, forgiveness, and did I say love…?

    Love and licks,

  17. Sarah says:

    So sad, but so true–they do save us. We lost our 18/19 year old companion, Pax—we’d been anticipating this. The vet finally diagnosed not ‘old age’ but a brain tumor….so instead of waiting for another stroke, we escorted her to the vet for the Last Trip….we’d been fostering a pup for an agency because he’d been sick, didn’t have all his shots, and wouldn’t be safe in their shelter…..but he’s a handsome guy and a family expressed an interest. So I was all set to see him off to his new family, but my husband couldn’t do it. “I can’t lose two dogs in the same day,” he told me. “I love this little guy, and I don’t want him to leave.” I was astounded–he agreed to the foster on the condition that I promise we wouldn’t keep the pup. But we called the agency and asked if we could keep him–and they said yes. So now Boots sleeps on our bed at night…..I miss Pax every day because she was my buddy for 1/3 of my life pretty much…..but Boots’ love and antics are an antidote to pain.

  18. They were truly a gift to each other. 🙂

  19. Wendy says:

    The poem below really conveys the “heart ripped out” grief of losing a dog. Some people don’t want to experience that again, which is a perfectly valid response to pain, but most of us (soon or late) want a dog in our lives again…

    The Power of the Dog – Kipling

    There is sorrow enough in the natural way
    From men and women to fill our day;
    And when we are certain of sorrow in store,
    Why do we always arrange for more?
    Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
    Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
    Buy a pup and your money will buy
    Love unflinching that cannot lie
    Perfect passion and worship fed
    By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
    Nevertheless it is hardly fair
    To risk your heart for a dog to tear.

    When the fourteen years which Nature permits
    Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fits,
    And the vet’s unspoken prescription runs
    To lethal chambers or loaded guns,
    Then you will find – it’s your own affair, –
    But … you’ve given your heart to a dog to tear.

    When the body that lived at your single will,
    With its whimper of welcome, is stilled (how still!),
    When the spirit that answered your every mood
    Is gone – wherever it goes – for good,
    You will discover how much you care,
    And will give your heart to a dog to tear!

    We’ve sorrow enough in the natural way,
    When it comes to burying Christian clay.
    Our loves are not given, but only lent,
    At compound interest of cent per cent,
    Though it is not always the case, I believe,
    That the longer we’ve kept ’em, the more do we grieve;
    For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,
    A short-time loan is as bad as a long –
    So why in – Heaven (before we are there)
    Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?

  20. So heartbreaking but at the same time, so full of hope. Thank you for sharing.

  21. fredrieka says:

    rescues are the best all of my pawsisters are rescues

  22. 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.

  23. Marcela says:

    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.

  24. How sad for her, I’m so glad she rescued another one to love on. They are the best healers of a broken heart.

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