Dogs. Why must we say goodbye to them so soon?

We cuddle and coo over puppies, our babies. We pull our hair out during their adolescence and worry ourselves sick as they become young adults. We educate them. We see to their manners and socialization, their health and their comfort. And they go through all these stages in just a few of years. Scientists conclude that, quite simply, canines grow so much faster than humans and therefore, their entire lives are accelerated.

We treasure our loyal and devoted companion, friend, guardian and partner for 8 to 12 years. Inevitably it becomes time to say goodbye. As pledged, ours is the very last face they see as they drift off to heaven to the sound and smell of our love.

Dogs enhance and even save lives whether a military working dog, a law enforcement K9, service dogs of many varieties, or just a sweet furry pet. Thus, many times the loss of a beloved K9 friend/partner can be almost more than one can bear: as painful as the loss of a human. And yet we go for it again and again.

A six year old child said, “People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life – like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right? Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.”

In the words of Navy Seal, Will Chesney, in his book, No Ordinary Dog, “Buying a dog is like buying a small tragedy. You know on the very first day how it will all turn out. But that’s not the point is it? It’s he journey that counts – what you give the dog and what you get in return.”

Here is my theory. There are not very many ‘do-overs’ in life. We end up making many irrevocable decisions during our time on earth. But every time we add a puppy or dog to our lives, we get a fresh start…..another chance to be the best human being we can be. Hopefully we improve each time.

When we loose a dog, we revisit a chunk of our own history. With a beloved K9 by our side we retain a tiny slice of childhood, we raise each other’s endorphins, and we experience a spiritual connection that overrides religion or cultural conventions. I sense that every dog we have ever loved comes back to us – projected onto the current pup. Sometimes people personify their dogs but perhaps one of their greatest gifts is that they make us more human.