Posts Tagged ‘Life’

The Problem With Pets

Posted: June 22, 2013 in Uncategorized
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Since I can remember, I have been around pets.  I remember my grandma having a dog named “Fu Fu” when I was barely walking. I remember a cat named Smokey when I was in pre-school. And there is a list of dogs and cats and rabbits that extends the past 27 years of my life; a list that I will not attempt to re-create here.  I have had the best pets anyone could ever ask for (with the exception of the God forsaken rabbit that attempted to sever my hand when I was 11).  They have all been playful, protective, well trained, well behaved, family centered pets. But each and every pet that I have had has had the same problem: they die far, far too early.

Now when I say they die too early, I do not mean that they all have “untimely” deaths. Most of them, I would say, have actually lived a full life expectancy for their particular breed/species.  When I say too early, I mean it is like losing a beloved member of your family once every 10-15 years (And if you are like me, much more frequently than that if you grew up with many pets that were staggered in age.)

Most of us, hopefully, will only experience a handful of close family deaths in our lifetime. But pets? It is conceivable for a child to experience the death of several pets before even their high school graduation (Obviously, I understand that many people have grandparents, parents, and siblings die prior to this event as well. But I am certain a far greater number of people lose pets. And for the purpose of this post, that is our focus. Please do not view this as me equating the death of a dog to somebody losing their mother.)  And if you are a multi-pet family, it will only compound this problem.

I have cried many tears in my life over the death of a pet. We had a cat die under our house, one dog just got old and wandered off, and several have had health complications and had to be put “to sleep.”  But nothing has ever hit me like my most recent loss. 

3 years ago, my wife and I got married in mid-May.  By the end of that month, we had gone out and got a puppy.  Around this time, my parents had to get their last remaining Rottweiler put to sleep. It was a rough time for them, as he had been around for a while. They had literally raised that dog from the moment he was born. 

Shortly after my wife and I got our puppy, my parents had a neighbor who had a few extra mixed lab puppies that they needed to give away. My mother was reluctant, but they went ahead and took one of the dogs in. Instantly, my dog (Piper) and my parents’ dog (Dixie) became best friends. They would play and run and fight until they literally fell down out of exhaustion. Dixie would grow up to be quadruple the size of Piper, but they played constantly like they were still little puppies.

And then 2 years ago, our son was born. And that boy loved his dogs.  As mentioned above, Dixie had grown to be quite a large dog. About the time that he learned how to walk, and maybe even before that, our son decided that it would be great to try to ride Dixie. She did not seem to mind at all. He would then come home and assume that he could do the same thing with Piper, who was roughly the same size that he was. But that never deterred him.  He loved both of those dogs.

2 weeks ago, Dixie was tragically killed in a car accident. My mother- devastated. My dad- speechless. My wife- sympathetic. Me- in tears as I type this post.  I don’t ever remember being this emotional for the death of any pet that I have ever had.  But even apart from the suddenness of it, this one is just different.  My son hasn’t the slightest clue what has happened.

It brings us to tears every day, because he is constantly asking where Dixie is. When my dad tells him that Dixie died, and that she has gone to heaven (theologically debatable, but not today,) my son asks when she’s coming back, and if we can go to get her. It is the most heartbreaking part of being a parent that I have had to experience so far. And then just last night, while we were praying, out of nowhere he says that he misses Dixie. It has been a very trying week for our family.

You would think, that after revealing all of this, I would be drawing the conclusion that the ownership of pets is vanity, and painful, and thus should be avoided. But I do not think that is my conclusion at all. On the contrary, I think that inviting a pet into your home is one of the most beneficial things a family can do.  If it were not my dog, or my parents’ dog teaching my son about death, it may very well be me or my parents death that teaches him about death.  I think that introducing children (and ourselves) to pets gives us the satisfaction of a friend who is always glad to see us, depends on us, and gives us all of the joy and the happiness that I described above that comes with having a pet, and then one day they just die. And it is over. And we have to be able to deal with that, and it might as well be a dog that we learn to cope with before we are struck with the much more serious death of a relative or close friend.  To turn away from having a pet just to avoid the death would be denying yourself and your family of all of the joy that comes for however long they are with you.  Most things that fill us with joy tend to come with some type of pain or sacrifice.

Death is a very unnatural thing. It is not right. I think that is why we fumble for words and try so hard to comfort those who are left surviving when somebody dies, because there is just a void and a sense of longing that is left. We know that this is not right.  This is all part of the fall of man, and sin that dwells in each of us. While death is still a part of life, we can rest assured that while Christ tasted death, He conquered it, and crushed its head, and currently reigns over it and all things. For those who have faith in Christ: Death is temporary, but life is forever.

 

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