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Posted by: Traxy | 2007/11/27

How could you?

How Could You?
Written by Jim Willis, 2001

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 you in 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 time at work and on your career, and more time 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've 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 you if you had a dog, that you produced a photo of me from your wallet 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 new 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 separate 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 murmured "How could you?"

Perhaps because she understood my dog speak, she said "I'm so sorry." She hugged me, and hurriedly 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 animal shelters.

Please use this to help educate, on your websites, in newsletters, on animal shelter and vet office bulletin boards. Tell the public that the
decision 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 all spay & 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

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberVet

Very moving! Indeed sad how this happens so often.

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

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Our users say:
Posted by: WR | 2007/11/28

Beautifully put Jax!

Reply to WR
Posted by: jax | 2007/11/27

And that story is exactly why all my animals are detailed in my will - that they will NEVER go to a shelter even though I contribute to shelters for others. That they would be homed with specific people who would respect my wishes for the duration of my pets lives, and with a financial bequest (unknown to the people concerned) that will assist with this. With a request for euthanasia to be performed at home by one of a specified list of people if for any reason circumstances change.
All my animals are spayed/neutered at the minimum recommended ages. If we can afford the time and money for an additional animal, it will be a choice, not an unplanned litter. The SPCA and most shelters will do this for a minimal charge.
Life is precious, but not at all costs. Choosing to offer an animal a home is for the duration of the animals life, and as long as man assumes the role of dominant species, we need to plan the care of our companion animals beyond the term of our interests/careers/offspring, or our own lives. And provide for a dignified death without the agony of 'waiting' to be loved again in a shelter.

Reply to jax
Posted by: Sassy | 2007/11/27

If Only this if Only that, If Only people like Only would consider all the expenses a human baby brings there would not be so many people in this world to get pets they dont want to pay for then there wouldnt be so many unwanted pets.
It makes me mad as h...l when I come across people like Only. I work with animals all the time and my own 2 cost me a fortune but I would never think of counting the cost cos when I come home they are so happy to see me and so forgiving when I am not feeling great. They make up for MORE than I spend on them with there UNCONDITIONAL LOVE

Reply to Sassy
Posted by: Chill | 2007/11/27

Yea... and compare the cost of neutering to a couple of pizzas and a few movie tickets... surely not such a huge sacrifice!

Reply to Chill
Posted by: anon | 2007/11/27

I agree that it is expensive, but that is something people should consider BEFORE they decide to take that cute puppy or kitten home.

Reply to anon
Posted by: Only | 2007/11/27

Only if the neutering and spaying was not that expensive

Reply to Only

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