A Dog’s Purpose

Good morning! I’ll be working on a post about spay surgery later today, but that’s not likely to be the sort of thing everyone wants to see. I’ll share something that a client brought in for us yesterday that was really charming. I don’t know exactly where this came from originally, so if someone knows the source I’ll be sure to give credit.

“A Dog’s Purpose

Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog’s owners, Ron, his wife Lisa, and their little boy, Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.

I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. 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 six-year-old Shane eo 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. It has changed the way I try and live…

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?” The six-year-old continued, “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.”

I can speak to the fact that many of my patients, in life and death, give us an example of what it truly means to have a life lived to the fullest, with not a moment missed. Nothing starts the day off like a good wag!

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “A Dog’s Purpose

  1. Chris

    From out of the mouth of babes…
    Still, I wish they could stay longer. People have a lot to learn.

  2. David Hughes

    I would find that to be a surprisingly philosophically perspicacious six-year-old, and so I spent some time digging for this story on snopes.com but didn’t find it there.

    But of course its objective truth is not really the point.

    I think that if our Mischa could read this story, he’d find it a bit facile compared to his real life goals (which I suspect are: setting a new world sleep record, having an inexhaustible bladder, and escaping his owners’ prohibition on chasing the local wildlife). But it’s still a sweet story from the limited perspective of mere humans.

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