Not all love stories are obvious. Nor do they all follow the same script. Some, even, have endings that we can’t fully appreciate or understand, but they touch us. Some even give us a glimpse of a picture bigger than we dared imagine.
Doggie came into Siobhan’s already full life, starving and feral. After many months of feeding him every day, in the veldt, she was able to coax him into her car with food. Once he was living with her at home, in a space of unconditional love and unstinting devotion, Doggie and Siobhan became the soul mates they were destined to be, and he never disappointed her.
Doggie’s physical condition was such that he needed a number of operations to his knees. And from these surgeries Doggie developed osteoarthritis. Every week, for three years Siobhan brought Doggie to my Hydro for light therapy, stretches and a swim. During that time the extent of their mutual love and devotion became more than apparent to me.
Sadly, in spite of their hard work, nutritional supplementation and therapeutic vigilance, Doggie’s condition worsened and the osteoarthritis spread to his hips and elbows. Undaunted by the cost, both financially and emotionally, Siobhan took Doggie for stem cell therapy. The results of the treatment were disappointing. Soon, Doggie was reduced to taking only 3 steps before having to lie down.
It seems like yesterday when we said good bye to Doggie. Again, he did not disappoint Siobhan. In spite of the high emotion, he understood, and he left us calmly and peacefully with love and dignity.
Sometimes, the greatest love we can show our dearest companions is the gift of freedom from pain and suffering. Our deepest instinct is to hang on to life, no matter what the cost. We are afraid of losing our loved ones, and of being left behind without them. It takes great courage and personal sacrifice to let go. Veterinarians are the only professionals who have the right and duty to kill their patients. Having said that, I hold it as a precious privilege and honour to be chosen to help a sick, old or pain ridden patient across the threshold into what lies beyond.
As much as Siobhan saved Doggie, Doggie saved Siobhan with his unquestioning loyalty and total commitment to her. This is my tribute to a devoted lady and her very brave companion. I am blessed to have been part of their journey.
Sometimes... we catch a glimpse of a departed loved one in the eyes, or hands or smile of a stranger. Siobhan recognised a dear friend in a starved, fearful, feral dog she noticed on the side of the road one day as she was driving to work. I wholeheartedly believe that death is not an ending, but rather a beginning, and I wonder if Siobhan and Doggie will find each other again, if not in this life, but in the next.