Aside from our close human connections our bonds with our dogs are the deepest and the most gratifying. And, unlike human relationships, our canine relationships are free of most of the complexity inherent in our interactions with our family, friends, co-workers, etc.. The loss of a dog affects us deeply.
Dogs give much more than they take
A dog’s devotion comes with no prerequisites other than kind treatment. Our dogs witness us during our less than glorious moments yet they do not judge. Dogs have an innate ability to sense when we are ill, sad, or upset and they instinctively draw closer to us during difficult times. Just basic interaction with our beloved pets can effectively melt away stress and anxiety. They are there at our beck and call and their loyalty is unconditional. They are somehow able to live close to us without absorbing any of our more negative characteristics. They may pout, sulk, and become jealous but only in ways that make them even more endearing.
The inevitable loss of a dog
We all know going in that our dog’s lives will only intersect with ours for a short period of time. Nevertheless, we take their presence for granted. The years from puppy-hood to adult to old-age become entangled with all of the comings and goings of our increasingly congested and complicated lives. Then, one day, we look at our dog and realize that his or her life span is nearing its conclusion. The amount of love and attention we gave our dog likely ebbed and flowed a bit over time but their simple devotion to us never wavered. We try to brace ourselves for their passing. We think we have come to terms with it. We think we are ready. We are not. Humans have just never been able to master preparation for death of anything or anyone that we love.
Then, our dog is gone. All the lovely things that we took for granted are no more. Now when we look out on our back porch it is empty.
After the loss of a dog the question often becomes “should I get another”?. Many do, many do not. For many the joys of having a dog outweigh the inevitable pain of the short life span. For some that inevitability is just too much.
Short life spans
Why are their life spans so short? Why are their lives so much shorter than their ancestor the wolf? Part of the answer lies in the divergent life trajectory between dog and wolf but an equal contributor has been man’s tampering. Thousands of years of artificial selection and inbreeding have had very negative impacts.
Here is a link to some interesting info on the subject:
This article is dedicated to Lori…..the sweetest, most loyal, most affectionate, most pleasantly lazy dog that I ever knew.