When We Have to Say Goodbye

A close friend of mine recently left a housemate arrangement. She was a housemate with two golden retrievers, Harper and Scout, and their male owner. She said the hardest part of leaving was saying goodbye to the dogs. She was the one who took them on long walks and comforted them when the thunder boomed. She was their puppy momma. The break was made and just three months later, a few days ago, one of her puppy babies was diagnosed with very aggressive cancer. Today, he passed away at only 5 years old.

At the same time I heard news of her loss; I had an 11 week old wriggling ball of fur in my lap. I’m getting puppy kisses all over my face and thinking that someday this puppy will grow old too. There is a sadness in knowing that this little life will be gone far too soon. So why do we have these special relationships with our pets?

Many people have written about the loss of pets and how our interaction with our furry friends is one of the few true experiences of unconditional love we can experience on Earth. I agree. I believe that pets give us a glimpse into the heart of God and what His unconditional love feels like. But I also believe they teach us more.

By experiencing and learning to receive unconditional love, we can learn to give unconditional love. We can give kisses and take long walks, just because. We can sit by our friends when they are having a bad day, just because. We can be friendly to strangers and not expect anything in return, just because. We can learn to love other people the way our pets love us.

When we get pets, we know that their lives are shorter than our own. We know that we will watch them grow old and die. We know that along with puppy kisses there will be retching sobs when they are gone. But we make the choice to share our lives with them. We choose to accept their unconditional love each day they are with us.

The biggest gift our pets give us is the opportunity to learn to live in the present moment; to not worry about tomorrow, but to love the puppy kisses today. But if you’re like me, living in the present moment is not easy to do. I think ahead to the future and wonder how everything is going to work out. Worry begins to take over. But then, the puppy kisses jar me back to today. The kisses tell me, “This moment is the only moment you have, enjoy it!” I think I will.

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