I've watched others in my life struggle with the declining health of their beloved pets, which is one reason I'm such a coward about owning one myself. I know, for all my surface impatience with animals, I have the capacity to fall in love with one. My sister Joan has three or four animals in her life at all times, and of course, she's fully aware that her life span will extend beyond theirs. It does not stop her from investing in those pets with full emotion, though she knows the pain which will come for her at the end of their lives. She's not a coward.
I'm thinking about this a lot lately, as several people in my life have been struggling recently with the loss of their pets. My sister lost her Golden a few years ago, Abby, a dog which I believe was her soul mate, if there can be such a thing among different species. More recently, another of her dogs, Murphy, was suddenly taken from her by a quick decline in health. Joan soldiers on, and still has four animals in her life.
My friends Scott and Drew recently experienced the loss of their beloved dog, who had been in their lives for many years. They freely claimed her their daughter, and transferred any innate parental feelings to her. Her life was checkered with substantial health issues, including what I think was a cancer scare years ago. After much soul-searching, Scott and Drew decided she should undergo treatment (I can't recall if it was chemo or radiation or both, but I imagine it was as toxic as such treatments are for humans). Afterward, they decided they would not force their daughter to undergo another such round, no matter what. Blessedly, though the dog was not predicted to live a long life, she ultimately did, despite her health issues. I should say, she not only lived a long life, she surely lived a happy one, with two doting parents treating her as their child. Of course, you can see the end of this story. This summer, her health issues took over, and my friends lost their loved one. The pain and sorrow they are currently feeling will eventually be tempered by time, but it will not go away. And right now, they are feeling a palpable, physical pain.
The dog now has peace, but her survivors don't.
Ashley annoyed me a lot, with his constant (and I mean CONSTANT) insistence on fetching things. You could not speak to the dog without his grabbing a slimy old tennis ball, or a plastic bone, or a squeaky shoe, and bringing it to you, to be thrown in his direction. This dog was a maniac about it.