Friday, November 21, 2008

I May Not Own A Pet But I Do Love Dogs

I May Not Own A Pet But I Do Love Dogs

I'm going to digress from my political format and talk about something that majority of Americans can relate to emotionally and with sincere empathy.

For many of those who know me, I don't own a dog or cat. I am probably one of those outsiders who just don't understand the attachment between owner and pet. It wasn't until a good friend of mine brought to my house a cute puppy. It was a 10 week year old Shiba Inu. Watching this puppy grow up to a full size dog, my whole attitude and opinion about dogs and cats dramatically changed.

Being a pet lover, even though I don't own a dog or cat, the joys and therapeutic effects of having a pet also bring pain and undo psychological stress. I finally understand what pain and sadness feels like when a close friend of mine from Pennsylvania called me today and told me that the family decided to put down their dog. I actually shed a tear over the phone. It was a weird experience. Ask me ten years ago, I probably would had given you a different reaction.

This gut check I experienced made me realize that losing someone you love is the same whether it is human or animal. I finally understand that the connection to a pet has a stronger affinity than the relationship to other people. This is because animals provide us a special type of companionship and emotional intimacy that humans are unable to provide for each other. Tell me if I'm wrong. I believe that humans have a difficult time to give themselves freely to another person without expectation or judgement. The bond we have to a pet is indescribable and beyond words. It explains the way we feel when we hold a pet in our lap, the pleasure we get in watching them enjoy life, and their uncanny ability to know when we need comforting.

This special bond between owner and pet holds a great level of intimacy. It is this close bond that they share, which makes it impossible to cope when a pet dies. Like losing a loved one, a death of a pet can bring a huge emptiness and loneness in a home.

In today's society, pet have gone from the dog house to the bedroom. Our culture has accepted that the relationship between owner and pet are extremely important. We actually humanize our pets. We care for them much the same way parents care for their children. We feed our pets with the right food, provide medicine and medical care, and give them plenty of toys. There are owners that take their pets to daycare, take them for long walks, and let them run crazy at a dog park. I would call this relationship between owner and pet as "pet parent."

The only problem I find is that there isn't a lot of support groups for the grief process that results from a loss of a pet. I think talking to someone who has a pet or understand the gravity of the matter are the only choices that we have under our disposal. My only suggestion for my friend to help cope with his loss is a holding memorial service, make a scrapbook, donating money to a local shelter in his pet's name, and keeping something that was special of his dog like her favorite toy or keeping her ID tags.

I am not sure if my suggestions help, but he was grateful that he was able to talk to someone who can empathize with his loneness and pain. I am just grateful to be there for him and being part of his dogs life. Her name was Shelby and she was a gorgeous German Shepherd.