Friday, September 23, 2011

Loss Of A Pet Leaves A Hole In His Owner's Heart

Dear Tazi-Kat:

I am heartbroken. Today I had to put my 12-year-old German Sheppard, Rufus, "to sleep" due to incurable, debilitating health problems. I know that I did the right thing, and I feel no guilt; just unwavering sorrow. I never had a pet as a child, so Rufus was my first experience with pet ownership. I like to think I did a good job with him, and Rufus made the experience pet guardianship such a pleasant one that I would love to get another dog someday, but at the same time I cannot imagine ever having the connection with another dog like the one I had with Rufus. I know that sounds crazy, but it's true. Rufus was one special dog. Will it always be this way, Tazi? Or do you think it's possible that another Rufus is out there for me?

Rufus' Dad

Dear Rufus' Dad:

Please accept my deepest sympathies on the loss of your canine companion. A loss such as your can feel insurmountable, especially when it is so fresh. A wonderful little book, The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, perfectly describes what happens when animal and human transform into pet and owner. When title character meets a fox he would like to befriend, the fox explains this transformation: "To you I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world."

Your Rufus was unique in all the world to you, just as you were unique to him. So to answer your question, no, there will never be another Rufus; but that does not mean that you will never find another canine companion that is as special as Rufus in his or her own ways.

I suggest that you give yourself time to mourn the loss of your dear pet and when the time feels right, try to interact with dogs that belong to friends and family members. If you find that you feel comfortable doing so, take it a step further by playing with these dogs, or by volunteering an hour or two a week at the local animal shelter. Shelters are always in need of volunteers to assist with the walking of the dogs in their care. In time, you just might find a dog - or a puppy - that needs you as much as you need him...and to you, he will be unique in all the world; and to him, you will be unique in all the world – just like your Rufus.


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