paws of devotion

November 26, 2010

We humans think we are pretty smart. We create new technology; minimize our impact on our planet; buy local; feed the hungry; give money to a stranger; make safer vehicles.

But we don’t know it all, yet.

Everything around us can teach us something, if we let it. Including animals.

Any pet owner will attest to his/her pet’s undying loyalty.

My 11-year-old Schnauzer would take a bullet for me and my family, I’m sure of it.

But it’s not just loyalty to their human owners that makes them so worthy of praise but also their loyalty to each other. Even those outside of their kind.

I witnessed this intense connection once, between a Doberman and a tabby cat.

Simon the cat was displaying signs of increasing illness over the course of a few days. I could hear his meows of discomfort before I even entered his home for my daily pet-care visits.

Doby, the intimidating yet lovable Doberman, always met me at the door, thrilled to see a human face and even more ecstatic when we hit the pavement for a brisk walk.

As Simon’s pain continued, we decided to visit the vet.

Doby watched us go out the front door, Simon curled in my arms.

I can only imagine his mind confusedly wondering where his pal was headed. As I returned to the house, visit after visit, each time without Simon, Doby became increasingly agitated. And with me being the last one he saw with his missing buddy, he began to view me as less of a friend and more of a traitor.

Doby made his distaste clear by regularly tackling me during my visits. His agile body and powerful paws landing on my back–and sometimes my front–though with no intention of hurting me, I know. If he wanted to harm me, I had determined, there wasn’t much standing in his way. No, he was simply protesting his feelings in the only way he knew how.

I couldn’t tell him that Simon was not coming home, nor did I want to. This was something he would have to realize on his own. And if it meant I had to endure a few powerful pounces from a heavy-hearted, 80-pound wrestler, I was resolved to take it.

Doby’s affection for and loyalty to Simon ran deep and was not quickly tossed aside.

I can only hope that my bonds of friendship and family hold so tightly. How much happier the world would be if we all lived like Doby.

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