I told the family we couldn't do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home. As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for four-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.
The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker's family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.
The little boy seemed to accept Belker's transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker's death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives. Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, "I know why."
Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I'd never heard a more comforting explanation. He 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."
Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would learn stuff like:
When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.
Take naps. Lots of them.
Be loyal. Never pretend to be something you're not.
Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently.
Being always grateful for each new day and for the blessing of you.
ENJOY EVERY MOMENT OF EVERY DAY!
Reprinted from Grace Drops, Volume 6 (2008).