The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

February 15, 2014

Saying goodbye to ‘agreeable friends’

ENID, Okla. — Editor’s note: This column was first published Feb. 6, 2004.

“Animals are such agreeable friends — they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.” — George Eliot.

A colleague recently had a death in her family, and nobody from our office attended the funeral.

Actually, there was no funeral, no wake, no public display of respect and mourning.

That’s because, instead of losing a spouse, a parent or a child, this lady lost her dog.

He was old, and nearly blind, but had been in reasonably good health until he woke her in the middle of the night. She thought he had to go to the bathroom. Instead, it seemed, he simply didn’t want to spend his final minutes alone.

He was having difficulty breathing, and didn’t want to leave her side. As his breathing worsened and the lady watched her longtime companion struggle for every breath, she prayed his suffering would end. In a few moments, her prayers were answered, and he breathed his last.

She was unable to come to work at her regular time the next day, in part because she got little sleep the night before, in large measure because she couldn’t stem the tears.

“I feel so silly,” she said when she finally made it to the office. “He was just a dog.”

Just a dog? There’s no such thing.

Dogs are always happy to see you when you come home, no matter how rotten a day you’ve had. They never say you need to lose weight, or get a haircut. They never criticize your choice of clothing or your television viewing habits.

They don’t ask much, just food, water, shelter and love. When you are away from home they sit and listen for your return, ears twitching at each neighborhood sound. They are the world’s best listeners. They will let you talk as much, or as little, as you want. They’re not much in the way of offering feedback, to be sure, but often their silence is comforting.

They have your best interests at heart. They are always ready to go for a walk with you to help you get the exercise you need. But if you prefer to lounge on the couch in front of the TV with some snacks, they are up for that too — so long as you share.

In the classic “Pollyanna,” Eleanor Porter wrote, “It’s funny how dogs and cats know the inside of folks better than other folks do, isn’t it?”

Cats are known as aloof, and indeed, they can be. They are affectionate, but only on their own terms.

“If a dog jumps in your lap, it is because he is fond of you; but if a cat does the same thing, it is because your lap is warmer,” wrote Alfred North Whitehead. True, cats often are looking out for their own best interests, but that doesn’t make them any less lovable.

Right before Christmas, one of the two cats that allow us to share their house became ill. Almost overnight, he went from being a healthy, active animal to on the critical list.

We went to visit him at the vet clinic. He was shaky, he was thin, he was dehydrated, he was yellow because of jaundice. But there was something in his eyes that could only have been love. And when I tucked him under my chin and stroked him, he purred. We left the clinic fighting tears.

Animals shouldn’t do that to us. They shouldn’t reduce us to helpless weeping. They shouldn’t rip our hearts out when their brief lives end, but they do. And everyone who lets an animal into their lives knows, in their heart of hearts, they will one day go through the pain and grief when their companion dies.

It is the price we pay for all the joy, comfort and companionship they give so selflessly. It is a high price, to be sure, but the gain outweighs the pain.

Our cat recovered, by the way, and is back to causing havoc in the household once again. We know we merely postponed the inevitable, but we are thankful for the reprieve.

Losing a pet does not have the impact of losing a person, neither does it bring with it the outpouring of public sympathy. That can make losing “just a dog,” or “just a cat,” that much harder to bear.

Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at jmullin@enidnews.com.͝

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • David Christy col. use clip.jpg America: Braving the ‘Dirty 30s’

    The stories I most remember are of my dad and his parents enduring the Great Depression of the 1930s.
    It seems they lived right in the heart of the Dust Bowl as it savaged the Southern Plains, making the Great Depression all the more overwhelming for those who endured.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • OCES has been a valuable resource for 100 years

    A large part of what OCES employees do is provide valuable services and research for agriculture producers, concerning both crops and livestock.

    July 25, 2014

  • Jeff Mullin mug 2012.jpg David, Goliath at it again in Gaza Strip

    Israel has long seen itself as David, standing firm against a hostile neighborhood full of Goliaths.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • DHS must come up with future plans for NORCE, SORC facilities after they are closed

    NORCE is scheduled to close in August 2015. Currently, 15 residents remain at the facility, awaiting transfer to a private setting, and there also are 60 state employees on the NORCE payroll.

    July 24, 2014

  • Never leave a child or a pet alone in a car

    With temperatures soaring to near or above 100, parents need to know they can’t leave their children alone in a locked vehicle. In 10 minutes, a vehicle’s temperature can climb 19 degrees. A child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult’s, and it only takes a few minutes before a child can become dangerously overheated, according to Safe Kids USA.

    July 23, 2014

  • Will Rogers web.jpg Will Rogers Daily Telegrams 7-24-2014

    I am beginning to believe that Mellon is the poorest Treasurer we ever had. I would like to be Treasurer. Here would be my policy, and you see if it wouldn’t be the best thing for America:
    Save nothing, have nothing in there. Then Congress and the entire nation could have nothing in view only what they made themselves.
    A Candidate.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jeff Mullin mug 2012.jpg State of the state: Things are not as good as they could be

    Draper wants to split Cali up into six separate states — Silicon Valley, around the San Francisco Bay Area; Central California, including cities like Bakersfield; West California, including Los Angeles and its suburbs; South California, including San Diego; North California, centered on Sacramento and Jefferson, in the far northern part of the state.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Voters have decisions to make in August races

    Democrats will have two runoffs to decide. One will be choosing their party’s nominee for state superintendent. Freda Deskin will face John Cox. The winner will face Republican nominee Joy Hofmeister in the November general election.
    The other race is for the party nominee to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn. Jim Rogers will face Connie Johnson. The winner will face Republican nominee U.S. Rep. James Lankford in November.

    July 22, 2014

  • Going postal

    Waukomis residents have the opportunity to have their voices heard in regard to the future of their post office.

    July 22, 2014 1 Story

  • New dorm

    Breaking ground on a new dormitory at Northern Oklahoma College Enid is another step in the evolution of the campus.

    July 20, 2014 1 Story

Featured Ads
House Ads