When we bring a pet in to our home whether it is a cat or dog this could be one of the best decision you have ever made. I know when my husband and I brought home “Dexter,” our chocolate Lab, I felt like a little kid at Christmas. I couldn’t wait to show Dex the world and experience so many things with him. We are taking him camping and canoeing this spring (it will be his first trip, we can’t wait.) He goes with us to the park, to play Frisbee, disc golf and so many other things that are better when you have your dog with you. Not to mention cuddles on the couch, waking me up in the morning and my favorite, his non-stop energy that continues to remind me that this was my choice to bring an active dog in my house so therefore is it my responsibility to give him the exercise needed to live a happy life. And really who am I kidding; my life is better with him when he gets his exercise, as they say “a tired dog is a good dog.”
With all this wonderful being said, the truth is we are going to outlive Dex. There will come a day when he will leave this world and we will have to say good-bye to our buddy. It brings a tear to my eye just thinking about it, but I believe it is healthy to think about it and decide “is it worth it?” To have this friendship knowing there is an unknown expiration date is something that most people refuse to acknowledge because of how sad it is.
Since working with animals at the zoo you try to prepare yourself for when the day comes to say goodbye. Right now I have 3 sea lions and 7 elephants. Before that, I worked with a large array of animals. With the number of animals being higher, the number of deaths naturally is more common than if I were to compare it to just my dog and cat at home. But whether it is the smallest forest antelope to the largest land mammal it still breaks my heart. I can try to prepare for it. it is easier when you know the end is very near rather than a surprise but no matter how many times you have to go through it, it never gets easier.
I remember when my family pet “Katie” passed away. I was in college at the time and my mom was telling me about how horrible the experience was when she had passed. And as we were talking I asked her “why do we put ourselves though this?” I will never forget her answer. “Because having them in our lives and enjoying all these experiences are worth it.” That statement has been with me ever since. No matter how horrible I am feeling about a death from an animal, thankfully I haven’t had to use it on a passing of a family member; I just remember “it is worth it.”
For me it is better to think about the celebration of life and all the good that an individual can bring to it. When Dex’s time is up, that will be ok. He has brought Derek and I so much joy and laughter that in his short 2 years he has done more than I could have ever asked for. That being said I hope he sticks around a whole lot longer.
***I know this is a little morbid, but there have been a lot of remembrances and future deaths nearing in. I hope that this blog, however insignificant it is, can remind people that “It is so worth it!”