Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Second Guessing

I caught myself second-guessing my actions in the last days of Sally the dog again this morning.
If only I had done this, or not done that.
If had known she was going to die so soon Saturday night, I would have stopped reading the stupid book I was reading and sat with her in the dining room that whole last hour.
(Jesus said, "What, could you not watch with me one hour?" Matthew 26:40)

Then my mind goes to the thought I had Sunday morning as I was going through this line of thought,

She does not care now.
She does not hurt now.
She holds nothing against you.

The truth is, Sally just wanted to be near me.
She expected very little from me.
She had no expectations about what I could do to ease her discomfort or heal her illness.
She only knew that she was sick/uncomfortable.
My time with her those last three days was all she expected and thus, all she wanted.
All she knew to receive from me was food (which she could not use at the time), water (which I provided for her and she drank the first two days), physical proximity (which meant I was interested in her), my occasional petting/scratching/rubbing, and my occasional chatter.
The truth is, even when I was busy doing other things, she was happy just to be near me in the same room, or in the room next to me, or in the same house with me.

If you watch two healthy dogs, they occasionally play with each other, which involves running/chasing each other, chewing/biting each other, and pawing/touching each other.
At other times, they simply lay near each other.
Occasionally they will sleep touching each other, but not always.
The key element in friendship/relationship for a dog is proximity.
I have learned this over the last 20+ years and did my best to apply this understanding to this relationship with this dog.

Interestingly, only humans pet/scratch animals.
Animals do not do this among themselves, though they will occasionally lick each other.

The human element in my relationship with my dogs is that I talk to them.
Not in a squeaky baby-talk voice, but in a regular tone, like I would a child or adult.
I understand that dogs do not understand english (or any human language), but they do understand the emotion/energy (as Cesar calls it) that we humans have.
Over time, they learn what we want them to do and not do, and we learn what they like to do and not do.

The animal I named Sally was just a dog.
Although humans and some animals can develop strong relational bonds, in the final analysis, animals are still just animals.
It is easy for we humans to over-interpret the actions and thinking of our pets.

I still catch myself feeling guilty for some of the things I did or did not do with Sally.
The truth is, she probably did not notice.
Even if she did, she did not hold it against me.

I miss my dog.

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