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Dying Lessons I Learned From My Dog

Updated on October 23, 2015

My thirteen year-old rescued dog, Benny, has suspicious nodules in his liver. My husband and I will know in a few days if it’s cancer. Needless to say, I am watching his every move on a daily basis. Losing a pet is never easy and I hate having to go through this over and over (as we have with the many furry children we have lost and mourned over the years). However, I am in a new phase with the reality of death because of my mother’s advanced years, so Benny’s condition takes on a more profound meaning for me.

Death scares me. Death means losing loved ones forever. Death is final. Death is inevitable. Therefore, in order to combat this dark truth, I am concentrating on the essence of my Border Collie, Golden Retriever mix who came to us from a shelter as a grateful, energetic young dog almost twelve years ago. Benny is still Benny, yet age has given him a well-earned wisdom. Benny has become my Yoda. I am certain his lessons about dying will give me comfort for my own death someday.

Lesson 1. My greatest joy right now is watching Benny run and jump on our morning walks. He still barks gleefully for being off-leash in the greenbelt behind our house, while jumping all over our young dog, Brindey. They love running at birds and squirrels. Benny is teaching me to jump and run in the moment instead of worrying about that which hasn’t even happened.

Lesson 2. Benny follows me everywhere to get as many hugs and kisses as he can. Benny is teaching me to not hold back my feelings of love with those who are important to me. None of us know when we might not be around in this life.

Lesson 3. When Benny is tired, he finds a comfy spot and languishes in rest. Benny is teaching me to listen to my body when it is hurting. I have prolonged too many injuries because I won’t stay off my feet or miss one workout to enhance the healing process. It’s okay to be vulnerable.

Lesson 4. Doctor visits are always stressful when you don’t know a diagnosis, but Benny allows the doctor to probe and poke without complaint. He trusts that we are doing the best we can for his well-being. I am learning that we need to trust our loved ones and let them care about us without guilt or complaint. Benny is trying to make us feel better even though he is the one who is sick.

Lesson 5. Benny still smiles and wags his tail when he is with us. He is allowing the good things in his life to take precedence over the bad. Benny is showing us that even though there is a final end to life, if you have your loved ones around you, death might not be so awful or scary.

Finally, Benny’s love for us is his priority. He lets us know every day how much we are appreciated. So I say to you now, dear Benny, “Thank you for loving us unconditionally and for giving your furry siblings your patience and guidance. We will never forget how you dropped that pear, a favorite treat, in front of your older dog sister, Bonney, when she was struggling to breathe and could no longer eat. Also, you made sure Mr. Big, our cat, wasn’t so afraid by kissing him to come out of his hiding place when we moved to the new house. We love you to the moon and back, sweet boy… now and forever.”


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    • Suhail and my dog profile image

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 2 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      You are absolutely correct Jeannine. I lost a dog in 1990s for the reason I attribute to my furthering my professional career as I had just begun it. It took me 15 years to bring in another dog. I was so devastated by the loss. I still feel guilty.

    • JEscallierKato profile image

      Jeaninne Escallier Kato 2 years ago from Rocklin, CA

      Thank you, Suhail, for your kind comment. I think all of us, who love our dogs, can relate to the great sadness when we have to say good-bye.

    • Suhail and my dog profile image

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 2 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      What a beautiful hub! As a dog lover, I can relate to this.

      Thanks for sharing!

    • JEscallierKato profile image

      Jeaninne Escallier Kato 2 years ago from Rocklin, CA

      Thank you, Nancy. I'm so thankful you and the grandkids got to know him. Love you, too.

    • profile image

      Nancy Morrell-Lewis 2 years ago

      Damn I have written this twice and lost it by pushing the enter button instead of the post comment.. dumb me.. I wonder which pet is going to teach my fingers to stop overworking my brain. lol

      Jeaninne, You have hit it right on the nail with your write up. It is the best of the best when we realize what we have learned from our furry friends, you and Glenn are going through the tough part now but it will all work out in Gods Time, He gave you Benny and all the other critters that you have rescued for a reason. You have learned and are learning it well my friend. Benny may have some special squirrels to chase and he may be needed to help the Lord round up those heavenly critters. He is a Border Collie Mix so remember he may have something to else to herd and gather up for Jesus. Loving all of you.