It’s past 1am and I can’t sleep. I’ve been lying in bed crying and words are all jumbled up in my head and I have to write them down.
Just over an hour ago I was reading about yet another friend who suddenly had to say goodbye to their furry dog companion. There seems to have been an epidemic of this scenario lately. This was a rather gut wrenching account that had me bawling as I read it. So much so that I had to get up and go downstairs and wake Sam up for a cuddle.
He was a bit bewildered and concerned but obliging nonetheless. As dogs always are. Anything for their humans, right? But even after I went to bed I couldn’t stop thinking about this post I had just read, and crying. Crying because what if it was Sam? What if it was my furry blond fluffernut?
What is it about dogs that makes them fill up our hearts till they overflow? How do they hold so much capacity for love inside of them?
The thing is, with people, love always comes with challenges. There are arguments and fights, restlessness, sometimes grudges, sometimes jealousy, nasty words spoken in the heat of a moment that may not be meant but that can’t be taken back, sometimes outgrowing one another and sometimes just plain falling out of love. There’s risk – risk that when you give that person your heart they will break your trust. Even with family where you can love them but not really like them.
But not with dogs. With dogs, it’s just love.
It’s unconditional. It’s always there. It never wavers. They don’t outgrow you, or care if you have a bad day, or break your trust, or hold a grudge – even when you get mad at them for stealing your shoes or when you have left them all day for something fun without them.
And that’s what makes it so easy and so hard. So easy to give them your heart when you know without question that they will give theirs right back – forever. And so hard when you stop and think that they will only be with your for a short time frame in the grand scheme of things and you will have to say goodbye one day.
Sammy will be 3 next month. The magic age where everyone says Labs calm down and outgrow their puppy exuberance. I can already see it happening and part of me is glad but part of me wants him to stop getting older right now and keep that puppy curiosity and energy forever. Labs live, on average, to be 12. I can’t even bare to think that 1/4 of his life is nearly over. Knowing that, even if he stays healthy and lives to be old and grey, he will not be here for long makes me start crying all over again.
It even makes me wonder how I could have signed up for this. How can I love him so much knowing I will have to say goodbye one day? But then I think, how could I not? I was gone the moment I saw that little yellow ball of fur stuck behind a flower bush busy being nosy while all his litter mates were playing near their mum. The minute I picked him up and he chewed on my ear. The breeders told me to think about it for a day or two and I dutifully did but I knew already that my heart had been handed over on a silver platter and he’d sent his right back. He picked me like he knew I needed him and he was right.
My heart goes out to each and every one of my friends and acquaintances who has had to say goodbye to their sweet furry friends the past few months. It’s heartbreaking.
Pure, simple, uncomplicated love. It’s the gift that dogs give us and let us give back to them.