by Buu-Tran Duong
My dog is dying. I’m not the only pet owner who has had an animal save their life physically or mentally. I’m in pain when I see them in pain. I don’t even care that much for humans. If somebody puts a gun on someone in my house, I will do my best to de-escalate the situation. If that gunman shoots my dog, I’m going to lunge for the gunman and shoot them, and then keep beating up their corpse past their death.
What I am saying is I really like my dog Cristo, a 16-year-old rat terrier who chases small children because he hates the high decibels they can scream at. He hates other dogs because I swear before I picked him up at 10 years old at the Junior Humane Society adoption event in PetSmart, he must have had a black book of all the dogs and their companions he had attempted to bite or start fights with.
On September 24, 2021 at Davis Animal Hospital, they told me he had a heart murmur and chronic kidney disease. His teeth need work. He went blind a couple years ago from glaucoma. He does not hear and smell as well anymore. He’s a little ill confident when he goes outside to pee on his own. But he still searches for the ball like he knows it’s there, even if he cannot see it. He has a ridiculously loud bark, like he is a yelling old man telling the armadillos and rabbits in the backyard to get off his lawn. Nowadays, he cannot bark as long. He coughs, throws up, sneezes, sleeps a lot, wheezes, and sometimes does not eat for a whole day. And yet at the same time, he smiles when I scratch his ears and squeaks his ball in an empty room to get someone to play with him. I do not care much for taking care of my parents (sorry, mom and dad. Make Abby and Billy take care of you instead). But I would take care of Cristo until he dies or I die.
And I realize that it is because of the barrier I have grown around my heart that the compassion I have developed for a single animal has helped me so. I have been inspired even by how hardworking my Xiaomi robot vacuum is, turning on at 1 PM everyday to clean the house, while I lay in bed trying to catch more sleep.
What I am saying here is when you find something that makes you motivated and work hard, do not reject the feeling. And open yourself up so they, whatever or whoever it is, can live their life. Some people live their life through others because they cannot currently live theirs, or they are afraid to. Building up someone or something else lets you see what it can be, and you helped build it for them. Maybe you can do it for yourself too.
My dog is dying. I do not know if I will put him down, he will die in my arms during a heart attack and it would be too late for an emergency vet, or he will decide it is time himself. But everyday, I relish what I get from him: decreased depression, more serotonin and dopamine I am not willing to share, something interesting to search for because where the heck did you go this time–how did you make a blanket cocoon in the kitchen?!, and someone to take care of and practice compassion on. Just like you shouldn’t have a friend just to boast that you have a friend, don’t have an animal just to boast you have an animal.
Because it hurts when they are gone. But do not be afraid and avoid a life with pain. You will find a lot of beauty, companionship, and fun if you have the guts to take some hurt and tears with it.