Sadly, I had to have my dog put to sleep just before Christmas. It doesn’t seem that long ago that Tess was a puppy and we were bringing her home for the first time. She was a tiny bundle of energy that hit our house like a miniature tornado. She spent her days chewing through all my shoes, sleeping, seeking out trouble and snuggling up on my lap.
She very quickly became a part of our family. We watched her grow from a puppy and she watched us grow. She was by my side at 3 o’clock in the morning when I went into labour, and stayed with me until it was time to go to hospital and even then she had to be dragged away. She accepted my son and cared for him. As he grew, she played with him and never complained when he climbed all over her and pulled at her ears.
And at the end of all those happy years with her, we stood, my husband and I, in a small vet’s room and cried and cradled her as she slipped peacefully away. I look back and think about what a wonderful companion she was, of the lessons that I could learn from her. So, here are five things that Tess taught me through her life…
Tess couldn’t have been tempted away from us for all the juicy steaks in all the world. Humans are materialistic; we seek money and possessions. Dogs, on the other hand, grasp what is truly important in life. Bonds. Family. Which leads me to my second point…
2) Unconditional love:
No-one loves you like your dog. I mean, I have people who love me but they don’t jump up and run to me because they’re so overjoyed I’ve walked into a room (even though I’ve only been gone for five minutes). Dogs have an innocent way of loving, no strings attached.
3) Taking pleasure in the outdoors:
I like walking and I like being outside, but dogs appreciate the outdoors on a whole new level. Tess loved new sights and sounds. She didn’t walk around in a daydream like I do. She wasn’t thinking about jobs she needed to do. She took it all in (and then peed everywhere but I didn’t say I had to copy Tess exactly…)
4) Don’t hold grudges:
Tess put up with me and my family for eleven years and never once fell out with us or got fed up with us. If you think about this as a human (which should be pretty easy since we are humans) we’re always falling out with each other, especially when we live together and get under each others’ feet. She didn’t hold it against me if I fed her late, missed a walk, shouted at her or had to put her into kennels. Dogs could teach us a lot about forgiveness.
5) Enjoy life:
Tess took pleasure in the simple things. She knew what was important in life. As long as she was with her family she was happy. Dogs certainly have a loving and carefree attitude we could all learn from.
I’m thankful to Tess for being my constant companion these last eleven years. I’m grateful to her for being a part of our family and looking after us and loving us. Perhaps this year I can strive to be a bit more like her (apart from the peeing thing…and I probably won’t start sniffing butts either). If we all had a bit of Tess in us I think the world would be a better place.
When I look back at our time with her, from an energetic puppy to a tired and, eventually, very poorly old dog, I can say that she lived a good life. In the vet’s room, when she breathed her last, I was there. I lay my head on her side and stroked her fur. She loved and she was loved. And isn’t that what we all want in the end?