old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog's owners, Ron, his wife,
Lisa, and their little boy, Shane, were all very attached to
Belker and they were hoping for a miracle.
I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the
family we couldn't do anything for Belker, and offered to perform
the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.
As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it
would be good for the four-year-old Shane to observe the procedure.
They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.
The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker's
family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog
for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on.
Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.
The little boy seemed to accept Belker's transition without any difficulty
We sat together for a while after Belker's death, wondering aloud
about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives.
Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, "I know why."
Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next
stunned me. I'd never heard a more comforting explanation.
He said, "People are born so that they can learn how to live a
good life -- like loving everybody all the time and being nice,
right?" The four-year-old continued, "Well, dogs already know how to do
so they don't have to stay as long."
Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply, Speak kindly.