The Unbridled Gift of Pets

Linda H. Cools

Many of us have had pets throughout various phases of our lives. Recently, I lost my male, 12-1/2-year-old German Shepherd, my partner, my ally, my best friend, Harley. I adopted him after he was being beaten and had two cracked molars and more from a local shelter.

In his elder years, degenerative nerve disease took hold and rendered his back legs immobile. The immobility was one type of physical struggle, but I had to fit him with a disposable male diaper because of his incontinence issues, and the emotional aspect of his condition started to manifest itself.

When one decides to get a pet, it is understood that you accept a lifetime of responsibility to them, as in marriage—in good times and bad. Seeing and experiencing our animals suffering is a heartbreaking chapter of pet ownership that all of us know too well. But knowing when the time has come to extinguish life is something we commit ourselves to voluntarily.

Pets give us an opportunity to exercise unconditional happiness and to shower them with unlimited love and limitless joy. However, pets can tell us with their eyes and souls in their own language what they are coping with, which is a unique and special bond between us and them. Understanding when that time comes, though, seems an impossible task.

The goodbye decision was gradual, as he intermittently cried out at night and I noticed how his eyes were fixed on mine, and, in a way, he was telling me to release him from this earthly life to the rainbow bridge where all things are ultimately restored.

This is the ultimate gift of selflessness you can give your pet. In the end, there will be a slow realization that you freed yourself from a sort of bondage and your beloved pet from struggle and pain and illness. The nonverbal communication between us and animals is something we shouldn’t ignore, because without our pets, this world would be a shallow and empty place without our animals beside us for the journey! They fill a critical void in our lives and offer companionship, love, and more. So, when you spend time with your beloved pet, remember to thank them for all they have given you.

Maybe somehow this article will remind and help others who made the same decision and are struggling with separation, pet loss, and grief, that you made the right decision.

Long live our pets!