Today is National Supreme Sacrifice Day. I think about all the sacrifices we make when we decide to get a dog. Everything we wear will be covered in dog hair. For some, you will never have the bed to yourself, or maybe your furniture will have mud stains and drool marks from when your dog goes to sleep after a hard day of play. Ask me how I know.
We sacrifice financially, dogs are not cheap if you decide to be a responsible pet owner or if you fall crazy in love and start buying toys and bones at every store.
We sacrifice time walking or playing with our dogs when we could have been out with friends or at the gym. We spend money on daycare and boarding. We live in places we don’t love because they are dog-friendly and where we would prefer are not.
Those are not supreme by any means but this one is. We’ve recently had a few people ask about donating food and toys and other items from their dog who is no longer with them. Each person mentioned how devastated it was to make the decision to, as they say, walk their beloved dog over the rainbow bridge.
I have personally never had to make that choice but I have a friend who had to do this a few years ago. She said it worse than the death of any family member or friend. She said it was distressing and gut-wrenching. My dog is a happy and healthy two-year-old. I tell him my family has longevity so he has to live another twenty or thirty years. I doubt that will happen.
Some decisions are more cut and dried than others. A dog has incurable cancer and is in horrible pain. It feels like a supreme sacrifice but it’s actually a gift. Injuries that significantly diminish the quality of life and can often lead to making a sacrifice.
Maybe your beloved baby’s chronic pain can no longer be controlled by medication, or frequent vomiting or diarrhea are causing dehydration and/or significant weight loss. When a dog stops eating or you have to force feed him or he’s incontinent it could be time. Maybe he can’t stand or walk. The one that would break my heart would be if Coconut lost all interest in going for walks, or chewing bones, playing tug-o-war with me, or eating special treats.
One reason to have a vet is to check in with them at least annually for vaccinations. But another more important one is for when you have questions so that they can help you to determine if the time is right for the supreme sacrifice that is really the gift of love.
For those of you who are at that point I wish you peace and good memories. I want you to know that you are making a supreme sacrifice in a loving way that dogs understand. They truly do. Don’t ever apologize for crying at unexpected moments over your dog. When you lose your best friend, you have every right to be sad.
Yes, we take donations and we appreciate them. Some people choose to honor their dog by sponsoring an adoption fee because they are not quite ready to get a new dog but they want one of our dogs to have a home. Others jump right in and find a new dog, often a vastly different breed than the one who is now just a wonderful memory.
The longer I work with NEW PAWSibilities to help them fulfill their mission the more I appreciate you who make sacrifices big and small to bring our dogs into your homes and make them part of your family. This quote from Dean Koontz somehow seems appropriate right about now.
“Dogs’ lives are short, too short, but you know that going in. You know the pain is coming, you’re going to lose a dog, and there’s going to be great anguish, so you live fully in the moment with her, never fail to share her joy or delight in her innocence, because you can’t support the illusion that a dog can be your lifelong companion. There’s such beauty in the hard honesty of that, in accepting and giving love while always aware that it comes with an unbearable price.”
If that supreme sacrifice seems years away then enjoy every day you have with your dog. My friend who made that supreme sacrifice six years ago is at the vet having her new dog spayed. “For my entire life,” Zena explained, “animals have had a premiere place in my heart. In spite of the grief and fear that we experience from time to time, I can’t think of a better way to go through this life than with a loving furry companion.”