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This came to our inbox yesterday. Like me, you may have read this before. It’s worth passing on. This is the story of entirely too many dogs. They deserve so much more than they sometimes get. Like it says at the end, dogs love unconditionally. They want to make us happy, they will learn to do what we ask if we teach them, they are always happy to see us.

How Could You? By Jim Willis 201
When I was a puppy, I entertained you with my antics and made you laugh. You called me your child, and despite a number of chewed shoes and a couple of murdered throw pillows, I became your best friend. Whenever I was “bad”, you’d shake your finger at me and ask “How could you?” — but then you’d relent and roll me over for a belly rub.

My housebreaking took a little longer than expected, because you were terribly busy, but we worked on that together. I remember those nights of nuzzling in your bed and listening to your confidences and secret dreams, and I believed that life could not be any more perfect. We went for long walks and runs in the park, car rides, stops for ice cream (I only got the cone because, “ice cream is bad for dogs” you said), and I took long naps in the sun waiting for you to come home at the end of the day.

Gradually you began spending more and more time at work, on your career and searching for a human mate. I waited for you patiently, comforted you through heartbreaks and disappointments, never chided you about bad decisions, and romped with glee at your homecomings, and when you fell in love. She, now your wife, is not a “dog person” — still I welcomed her into our home, tried to show her affection, and obeyed her. I was happy because you were happy. Then the human babies came along and I shared your excitement. I was fascinated by their pinkness, how they smelled, and I wanted to mother them too. Only she and you worried that I might hurt them, and I spent most of my time banished to another room, or to a dog crate.

Oh, how I wanted to love them, but I became a “prisoner of love”. As they began to grow, I became their friend. They clung to my fur and pulled themselves up on wobbly legs, poked fingers in my eyes, investigated my ears and gave me kisses on my nose. I loved everything about them and their touch — because your touch was now so infrequent — and I would have defended them with my life if need be. I would sneak into their beds and listen to their worries and secret dreams, and together we waited for the sound of your car in the driveway. 

There had been a time when others asked if you had a dog that you produced a photo of me from your walled and told them stories about me. These past few years, you just answered “yes” and changed the subject. I had gone from being “your dog” to “Just a dog” and you resented every expenditure on my behalf. Now, you have a career opportunity in another city and you and they will be moving to an apartment that does not allow pets. You’ve made the right decision for your “family” but there was a time when I was your only family.

I was excited about the car ride until we arrived at the animal shelter, it smelled of dogs and cats, of fear, of hopelessness. You filled out the paperwork and said “I know you will find a good home for her”. They shrugged and gave you a pained look. They understand the realities facing a middle-aged dog, even one with “papers”. You had to pry your son’s fingers loose from my collar as he screamed “No, Daddy! Please don’t let them take my dog!” And I worried for him and what lessons you had just taught him about friendship and loyalty, about love and responsibility, and about respect for all life. You gave me a good-bye pat on the head, avoided my eyes, and politely refused to take my collar and leash with you. You had a deadline to meet and now I have one too. After you left the two nice ladies said you probably knew about your upcoming move months ago and made no attempt to find me another good home. They shook their heads and asked, “How could you?”

They are as attentive to us here in the shelter as their busy schedules allow. They feed us, of course, but I lost my appetite days ago. At first, whenever anyone passed my pen, I rushed to the front hoping it was you that you had changed your mind — that this was all a bad dream…or I hoped it would at least be someone who cared, anyone who might save me.

When I realized I could not compete with the frolicking for attention of happy puppies, oblivious to their own fate, I retreated to a far corner and waited. I heard her footsteps as she came for me at the end of the day, and I padded along the aisle after her to a seperate room. A blissfully quiet room. She placed me on the table and rubbed my ears, and told me not to worry. My heart pounded in anticipation of what was to come, but there was also a sense of relief. The prisoner of love had run out of days.

As is my nature, I was more concerned about her. The burden which she bears weighs heavily on her, and I know that, the same way I knew your every mood. She gently placed a tourniquet around my foreleg as a tear ran down her cheek. I licked her hand in the same way I used to comfort you so many years ago. She expertly slid the hypodermic needle into my vein. As I felt the sting and the cool liquid coursing through my body, I lay down sleepily, looked into her kind eyes and murmerd “How could you?”.

Perhaps she understood my dog speak, she said “I’m so sorry”. She hugged me, and hurridly explained it was her job to make sure I went to a better place where I wouldn’t be ignored or abused or abandoned or have to fend for myself — a place of love and light so very different from this earthly place. And with my last bit of energy, I tried to convey to her with a thump of my tail that my “How could you?” was not directed at her. It was directed at you, My Beloved Master, I was thinking of you. I will think of you and wait for you forever. May everyone in your life continue to show you so much loyalty.

A Note from the Author: If “How Could You?” brought tears to your eyes as you read it, as it did to mine as I wrote it, it is because it is the composite story of the millions of formerly “owned” pets who die each year in American & Canadian animal shelters. Please use this to help educate, on your websites, in newsletters, on animal shetler and vet office bulletin boards. Tell the public that the decison to add a pet to the family is an important one for life, that animals deserve our love and sensible care, that finding another appropriate home for your animal is your responsibility and any local humane society or animal welfare league can offer you good advice, and that all life is precious. Please do your part to stop the killing and encourage spay and neuter campaigns in order to prevent unwanted animals.

Please pass this on to everyone, not to hurt them or make them sad, but it could save maybe, even one, unwanted pet.

Remember…They love UNCONDITIONALLY…

I would add that not all dogs go peacefully to the put down room. They often know what’s coming or have a sense of foreboding – probably from sensing the trepidation from the person bringing them there. They are often terrified, sometimes they struggle and fight to not enter the room. Some have to be restrained by multiple people so that they can get the needle in for the final injection. Not all people performing the task are kind and soothing. Not all dogs die by lethal injection – many places still use the gas chamber which is a whole different kind of horror.

Dewey, the dog in the photo at the top of this blog, represents the dog in this story. He was picked up stray and brought to the shelter. The first time he was one of the lucky few, he was cute and charismatic and he found a home. A few years later his family decided they didn’t want him anymore. They turned him back in to the shelter. This time Dewey was not so fortunate. His time ran out. There were other dogs arriving at the shelter, there was no space, out of time and chances he lost his life so that they might take their chance to find a home.

This piece is a good reminder to anyone considering adopting a dog to consider the decision carefully to be sure it is a lifetime one! For those who can and will give a dog a lifetime home and will consider him or her a furry family member, please save a life! Adopt a rescue dog or cat.

Posted in: Blog.
Last Modified: October 20, 2013

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