Saturday, April 02, 2005

Win or lose it's all the same

Realization is key. Experience earned and learned gleans wisdom.

The circumstances of our individual lives are often pondered and remembered with feelings of fondness or feelings of hurt. Should we discount the good things in our lives that have ended just because the cycles were completed? I am mainly speaking about the sense of warmth, love and companionship that one receives from being owned by a pet. Whether a dog, cat, ferret, mouse, bird or some other type of pet. Pets enrich our lives. On a cold day they snuggle up to us and share their warmth. On a bad day they sympathize with us and make us feel appreciated and wanted. On a good day they share with us the joi de vivre that they inherently possess.

Perhaps it is because their lives are much shorter than ours that they seem to be willing to live in the moment. The simple act of chasing a squirrel may distract them from their companionship, but they chase with such a fervor that we cannot help but enjoy ourselves too. It seems though that when we think of the pets which have owned our hearts that our longest lasting memories are also the saddest ones. We move on slowly afterwards and say "never again." These resolutions hardly ever last, of course, finding us somewhere down the road contemplating the emergence of a new cross-species friendship.

It is hard to think that in my life I have known the companionship and trust of many dogs. It makes me feel old, actually. There is a dog lying on my bed right now that is rapidly aproaching her 16th year of life. Those of you that have read my blog know that I am speaking of Sophie, my parents' pekingnese dog. I am dog-sitting this weekend and will be again at the end of this month. She is old and tired most of the time. She is mostly deaf and her one remaining eye is cloudy so she sees only opaque shapes and shadows. Amazingly enough she still has that very same joi-de-vive which I spoke of earlier. She howls when I come home from work, she swells with pride when she has alerted me to the presence of some stranger and she still loves to play with a tennis ball.

In her younger years she was as fierce a dog as I have ever seen. She would fight her "brother" (a blond peke named "sammy") over something as simple as "the look." Her brother Shiloh, a Japanes Akita, was not immune to the danger either as I have seen her attack him over a semi buried dog biscuit. She lost both of them and yet she still remains. Often I wonder what her thinking process says about the loss of her "pack." Does she know that they died? Does she miss them? At this point, does she even remember them?

Shiloh was put to sleep due to stomach torsion or bloat. The last time I saw him was one of my favorite memories of him. It was in the late December, a crisp, cold day. The trees were bare and the ground was covered with brown leaves that crinkled underfoot as we walked down the wooded trail. The smell of musty drying leaves hung in the air as a reminder that winter was in full stide. We plodded down the trail, my Mother, the three dogs and I. Shiloh was a bit arthritic then, and his vision was failing, as was his hearing. Off to the left we all heard a clatter and we turned to see two majestic white tailed deer hopping away from us in that characteristic hop- leap that whitetails have. Shiloh didn't see them, but he certainly smelt them and felt the excitement as it traveled down the lead to him. His syes were alert, his ears erect and his muscles tensed as if he were ready for the chase. Off to the right we heard another clatter, four more white tailed does were in full alert running through the back yards of the houses uphill from the trail. Shiloh saw the movement but was unsure what it was.

That's the way I choose to remember this amazing dog. Alert, poised and ready. At home on the hunt and always between his family and danger. Akitas are like that. They boldly face any and every threat to their family and willingly fight to protect their pack. They are incredibly fearless and are devoted, intuitive family members. When I think of him I think of his intelligence, strength, size and also his lifelong search for the perfect place to poop. (Anytime we went on a walk he would spend anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes seeking out the perfect place. Sometimes he would get as far as going into the squat and decide to move on. I'll never know why, but I'll always remember it with a smile.)

The message of this particular entry is: Remember the good times people. There are too few honest and good moments in this life to forget them. Learn the lessons of life from pets: Live each day to it's fullest extent, be loyal to your family and there is always a better place to poop than the one you've just found.


kmvr said...

Very well summed up!

Edster said...

And one more thing to be gleaned from the stories above: It's ok to be excited about life, even if you're not really sure what exactly you are excited about.

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