Love and Pain – How Animals Enrich Our Lives

Sienna

I know they are not, but in my opinion these two words, love and pain, should be synonymous.  One doesn’t exist without the other and they are the evil twins of vocabulary.  The good twin gives the love and the evil twin delivers the pain.

Love is our oxygen.  We breathe it in and we feel our spirits lift to the point of being light-headed and giddy. Just when we are drunk on love, it gets snatched away and we suffer with the pain like a hangover.  I much prefer love.

When I reflect on love and pain I first think of the happiness and anguish of human relationships, although the same applies to the bond we have with our pets.  We have come to rely on them for companionship and of course love, but more and more, we depend on them as service dogs or service animals to help us both physically and emotionally.  They are an important part of our lives and as a result deep bonds are formed.  I began to think about all the animals that came in and out of my life and what they meant to me.

I must say of every pet I have owned, whether cats, dogs, tortoises, fish, small birds, exotic big birds and horses, they all presented me with a personality that was suited to mine at that time in my life.  I fondly remember some of the antics of my menagerie of pets over the years and the unconditional love they gave me.

My first cat as a child became my best friend who endured hours of torture being dressed in baby clothes and wheeled around in a stroller. He was so much more fun than a doll. As I would lay on the floor doing my homework, and usually fretting over it, he would climb onto my back and park there, purring, for the duration.  He was the best buddy an 8 year-old girl could have.

One time I came home from work to find my young Golden Retriever had chewed every possible thing he could reach, from hairbrush to can opener to gnawing right through the drywall until he reached the stud.  He was actually sitting triumphantly on top of the dining room table when I came into the house.  What could you do?

Then there was the duckling that waddled out from under the couch one evening as I watched TV.  Where he came from I’ll never know and the cat just sat there washing himself nonchalantly as if it had absolutely nothing to do with him.

I still wonder how, and which one of the three cats I owned, managed to get the live pigeon through the cat door and let him live until I came home from work.  I’ll never forget unlocking the door and all three black cats were lined up in the hallway staring at me as I entered.  I remember thinking that didn’t look right.  I turned around to close the front door and there sat the terrified pigeon. Who knows how long he had been sitting there.  Poor thing.  He could have had a heart attack as they probably taunted him for hours.

Then there was my sweet Mastiff who, while carrying a headless squirrel in her mouth, tried to bring it into the house for me. This beautiful docile dog was so excited to share it!  Have you ever tried blocking a determined 150 lb. dog from coming through a door? It wasn’t easy. I still refuse to believe she decapitated it, but it still haunts me.

Every one of these wonderful, funny creatures, and others I have not mentioned, brought such pleasure to my life, and for the small price of a good home and some food, they gave me so much love and some pretty unusual gifts!  If I was sad, a head would plop onto my lap or a paw would be laid on my knee. Or that purring in my ear and a kitty cat shoulder massage would bring a smile to my face and make my troubles disappear.  I remember sitting in my horse’s stall and crying over something that would bring an end to the world, and he would nicker just to let me know it was OK.  Happy days for them would be a car ride, always guaranteed to excite, maybe picking out a new toy at the pet store, or a gallop across the fields.  Their needs were so simple and all they wanted was to be with me.  Unfortunately our pet’s time with us is not long but the pleasure they bring lasts a lifetime.  Although I never will understand how man’s best friend, can live such a short life and a parrot or tortoise can live until they are 75!

When the dreadful day comes and the Evil Twin pays a visit, some difficult decisions have to be made.  This is hard on all of us and facing the inevitable can be heart wrenching.  It hasn’t been too long since we said goodbye to our Chocolate Lab.  We were not given the opportunity to even make that difficult decision as she was taken from us so suddenly by a freakish, large dog condition and could not be saved.  It was a devastating loss and we still have moments of such sorrow when she pops into our minds or we see another Lab.  I wrote the following poem shortly after losing her and I read it whenever I am feeling sad or I’m reminded of her.  It always helps and brings a smile to my face as I remember her sweetness.

I hope it reminds you of a four-legged friend or dear pet that might have lost.

Thank you for reading this.

Christine

Sienna

Your restless feet in the morning, anxious to communicate
Always thoughtful and considerate, but you could barely wait
Even when you needed our attention, you wanted to please
But we loved you so dearly we would drop to our knees

Sienna, your sweet look, always a happy puppy-doodle-doo
Your daily ritual meant we had so much love for you
You had your order of how things should be
And we followed you through the motions because your joy was ours, you see

Our world revolved around you and your happiness was important
Whatever it took and no matter the cost, we would never be complacent
We were blessed with your warmth and goodness every day
But what a cruel world it was that took you away

Our sadness and grief are beyond unbearable
And the loss of you completely unacceptable
Our memories are fresh in our hearts and will not fade soon
Our thoughts of you warm and loving and should be placed in a balloon

We would then send it up, way into the sky
Off into the wild blue yonder where dogs might fly
With a wish that it would find you somewhere, happy, healthy and content
And you would read our words to know that for us, it was as if you never went

You will never be forgotten and hope you are not alone
Our love for you is deep, as if carved in stone
We miss you so much our sweet chocolate dog
If we spell dog backwards then there is a God

Christine Bolton

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