Ageing gratefully

By Scott Hunt

The Dog Grumbler


FOR many, dog ownership is a journey and as with many journeys, the value is as much in the experience as the destination.

Of course, there are those who miss the point completely; they acquire a dog for the wrong reasons — reasons I like to itemise at every opportunity — i.e. as a toy, status symbol, fashion accessory or weapon.

You’ve heard it before: a dog is for life. You either get it or you don’t.

If you get it, if you make that lifelong commitment, you sign up for a life of frustration, anger, embarrassment, inconvenience and finally a terrible loss and agonising, abiding grief.

Ironically, the depth of this loss and grief is commensurate with the level of success of your relationship.

I have spoken with those who feel the loss is not worth the commitment or the benefits. I suspect most have experienced neither.

Many who have taken this journey and grown and learned things which only a dog owner may, resolve never to acquire another dog.

Perhaps to avoid another loss; perhaps for fear of unavoidable comparisons.

None regret the journey.

Dogs are here to show us what is real and worthwhile; how to love and trust and learn, how to earn trust and self-respect and in the end, if we are worthy, how to die.

There is a wonderful journey to be undertaken with a dog.

Whether it begins early or late in the dog’s life or yours. The end of this arduous, exhilarating adventure is a terrible, inevitable thing — a memory you will carry to your own grave.

But take heart. From the other side, a dog who lives a full, happy life and dies in the arms of its owner has always been one of the very lucky ones.

So has that owner — to share such a bond; one that exists without grammar and defies grammatical description, is a valuable experience and a considerable achievement.

We start with plans for walks and drives and sticks and balls and fun, but discover a new joy in what we have created long after such activities become too taxing.

We cherish what time we have and lose a little of ourselves when we finally say goodbye, but we never regret the journey.

And if there is something after life, we know that however long it takes us to get there someone will be waiting.

You see the guy patiently waiting for his old dog to catch up on their daily walk? In the same place every day or week or afternoon? You think maybe he’s got nothing better to do?

There is nothing better to do.

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About the Author: Eastern Shore Sun

The Eastern Shore Sun is your monthly community newspaper, reaching over 30,000 homes and businesses in the communities of Clarence and Sorell. It is the product of Nicolas Turner, Justine Brazil, Ben Hope, Simon Andrews, Tobias Hinds and guest contributors, with support from advertisers.

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