Opinion Photo

Do all dogs go to heaven? Yes, of course they do, along with all of our other beloved pets. Sometimes, they just get there too quickly, leaving us bereft and broken. Maybe we love our dogs so much because they love us unconditionally and completely — flaws and all. 

They don’t seem to notice our bad moods and never hold a grudge if we are ever short with them. They show unbridled excitement every time we walk in the door! They eat the same (boring) food all the time, but never complain. They love walks and rides and anything that involves us. They are the children who get older, but never grow up. And they know how to make our days slightly better.

My daughter, Kelly, is disabled and her son has autism. They had a small shih tzu dog named Chopper. He just died at age 18. His sole purpose in life was to protect Kelly and Brandon. He “guarded” Kelly by sitting under her wheelchair, barking (perhaps growling) if people come too close and watched her carefully when she moved around the house. Not sure exactly what he thought he would do if Kelly fell, but he certainly acted as though he would break her fall. He was 10 pounds of fierce devotion. 

Sometimes our pets give us inspiration. My friend, Jane, found a small black abandoned kitten sitting by a dumpster outside of a Japanese restaurant. Jane was going through a divorce and not interested in a kitty. But she brought the kitten home, named her Sushi and for the next 16 years had a “kindred spirit” who slept with her every night. Sushi had the habit of snatching items and putting them in odd places around the house. Jane would find a sock from the laundry basket under the bed, or one of Sushi’s numerous soft toys stuffed under pillows. When Sushi died, Jane was in the middle of a career change.

One week after Sushi passed, Jane was sitting in the lobby of a new law firm, waiting for her second interview, feeling despondent and sad. Nervously Jane reached into her briefcase and she was stunned to feel a soft, gray mouse toy that Sushi must have hidden there. Jane said a calm came over her, she felt so loved and confidently walked into the conference room to nail the interview, get the job and seize the moment. After being offered the job, one of the senior partners asked Jane if she would like to stay for lunch and asked if she liked sushi. So, in an amazing twist of fate, Jane’s first words in her new position were, “I love Sushi.” 

Life is better when we have had the love of a pet. All that licking, running, jumping, wagging tails, cuddling, purring, barking, yipping and playing is the gift that keeps on giving. We can be alone with a pet, but never lonely. They offer us everything they have to give and ask for very little in return. Sadly, they leave us too soon. Our pets teach us that true love is a four-legged word. 

Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local Realtor. Have a comment or a story? Email Judy at judy@judybluhm.com.