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Bo Brock, DVM, owns Brock Veterinary Clinic in Lamesa, Texas. His latest book is Crowded in the Middle of Nowhere: Tales of Humor and Healing From Rural America.
The love of a dog is endless, even when it’s their time to go.
We said goodbye to the last of their 2 Dachshunds today. I felt their tears as the black one fell asleep for the last time. Nearly a year of poor health was ending, and with it came the tender memories that would be too sensitive to touch for a while. Some people would say it was just a dog, but I beg to differ, and so would they. Those of us who are younger may be wise to see how the sunshine years hold a tribute to weenie dogs.
The dogs gave them something to care for—a living creature that still needed them for guidance and the basics of life. Yet bigger than that, it gave them meaning that carried over from years of raising children and grandchildren. You cannot just turn those emotions off as time changes its definition of wisdom and usefulness.
The dogs gave them stories to share with one another as the retirement years set in. Adventures hung in the air for hours and those short legs carried a long back into the mischievousness of puppyhood. Each new trick was story material for the next phone call with family. Lap time was special, with not a bump or change in skin texture going unnoticed.
And what about the exercise? The black dog was paralyzed in the hindquarters for almost 11 months. Improvement was slow, but it was coming. The surgery had been a success, and a good prognosis depended on much physical therapy at home. Imagine that—11 months of walking and exercising and moving those legs and swimming that critter in the bathtub and carrying it outside and tucking it into bed. It makes you wonder who got the most exercise. It also makes you wonder whether you would have exercised at all.
No disappointment. This love is unconditional. So what if you go to bed at 8:30 PM? These dogs will be more than happy to stay right beside the bed until 5:00 am when you start the next day. So what if you keep the house at 88 °F year-round? They’ve never known any different. So what if you drive 25 miles per hour on the interstate? They just love going for rides. So what if you tell the same story over and over? They love it as much the last time as they did the first.
Inside of me is a huge tribute to weenie dogs. I’ve seen their effect. I’ve laughed at those stories. I’ve helped you notice every bump and change in skin texture. I’ve monitored that exercise program. And I’ve seen that love in your eyes as you held a precious friend in your lap.
If the world has collapsed and there is no love at all, there would still be the love of a dog. They just don’t know how to do otherwise.