Baggage

The True Value of Second Chances

Now that I’m home, bathed, settled and fed,
All nicely tucked in my warm new bed.

You’re New but I’m Tired. Can I Trust You?

I’d like to open my baggage
Lest I forget,
There is so much to carry –
So much to regret.

I Didn’t Mean to Hurt You; But, I Was Excited.

Hmm . . . Yes, there it is, right on the top
Let’s unpack Loneliness, Heartache and Loss,
And there by my leash hides Fear and Shame.

I’m So Afraid You Won’t Want Me Anymore.

As I look on these things I tried so hard to leave –
I still have to unpack my baggage called Pain.

I Didn’t Mean to Bite You; But, I Was Afraid.

I loved them, the others, the ones who left me,
But I wasn’t good enough – for they didn’t want me.

Waiting for Adoption in the Loneliest Place In the World

Will you add to my baggage?
Will you help me unpack?
Or will you just look at my things –
And take me right back?

Table Chewing Millie
I Was Afraid You Would Never Come Back.

Do you have the time to help me unpack?
To put away my baggage,
To never repack?

Suitcase Stowaway
Please Help Me Unpack. I Want to Stay With You.

I pray that you do – I’m so tired you see,
But if I come with baggage –
Will you still want me?

Jailbird Auggie
Please Open My Door and Let Me Love You

Written by Evelynn Colbath

That’s the True Value of Second Chances

Do Dogs Grieve?

Do you believe dogs are capable of feeling grief?

I don’t believe all dogs, as a species, experience grief. They aren’t even sufficiently self-aware to recognize themselves in a mirror. I think many dogs instinctively react to the grief we, ourselves, feel – to our distress, to our sadness and sense of loss. But not all dogs.

Indian Elephant at Los Angeles Zoo_111017

There are species that we know do experience grief: elephants, dolphins, otters, doves, wolves, to name a few. I wonder why wolves grieve but not domesticated dogs? In any event, grief is not something uniquely human any more than love is uniquely human.

Let me tell you a story that I believe shows that some dogs can, and do, grieve.

Baby Lucy_Dec 2001

Lucy was 10-years old when we adopted our second Boston Terrier, Rocky, in 2011. The relationship between these two was more of Oh, so you live here, too? rather than Oh, you’re my favorite brother! Until 2014.

In January 2014, Lucy started losing her hair, growing a pot belly, getting eye and ear infections, and having urinary and gastrointestinal problems, and was always thirsty. Our veterinarian, who had done her cancer surgery a few years earlier, said the hair loss and pot belly were due to age and treated the infections as unrelated issues.

Lucy kept getting worse and we switched to a new vet in April who conducted an ultrasound and diagnosed her with Cushings Disease. With treatment, a dog with Cushings can live as long as three years; but, the disease ravaged Lucy and she crossed the Rainbow Bridge just eight months after onset of symptoms.

Lucy Cushings Disease_071514
Lucy – Three Weeks Before the End

As Lucy suffered and her symptoms improved from the treatment, then got even worse, the one constant throughout the entire ordeal was Rocky. For the last three months of her life, he never left her side.

During Lucy’s illness – or, perhaps because of it – she and Rocky formed a strong emotional bond. He became her constant companion right up until the end. Rocky ate when she ate – or didn’t eat when Lucy was too ill to eat. He sat or lay beside her. He slept when she slept. He even adjusted his bathroom habits so he went outside when she went – no matter how often she had to go out.

Rocky Never Left Lucy’s Side

For the last three months of her life, he never left her side. Then the day came when we took Lucy to the vet and returned home without her. Rocky was disconsolate and kept searching the house and yard. And he grieved. Oh, how he grieved. He would stand or sit in his crate by himself, facing the wall, obviously depressed. He wouldn’t eat. He wouldn’t play.

It was as if all the oxygen had been sucked out of Rocky’s world. All the happiness and exuberance – all the things that made him, well, Rocky, were gone.

Animal emotion and cognition expert, Marc Bekoff, writes: Animal’s emotions are raw, unfiltered, and uncontrolled. Their joy is the purest most contagious of joys and their grief the deepest and most devastating.

My concern over his well-being led me to agree with Ellen’s suggestion to get a French Bulldog puppy. Even though Rocky and I were still lost in our grief.

And so, baby Stella joined our family.

Slowly, incrementally, things began to change as his interest in her grew.

And her interest in him grew.

And Rocky became her guardian and constant companion.

And slowly but surely, he got his Happy back.

But sometimes, when I couldn’t find him, I’d go into our bedroom where Lucy’s bed was still in the corner. And I’d find Rocky there. Sometimes sitting there staring like Lucy had been on her bed the entire time and his were the only eyes that could see her. Sometimes just lying there surrounded by her lingering scent, smelling her more clearly than my nose ever could, as if she had just that moment left the room.

I would sit or lay beside him, just Rocky and me, sharing a few minutes of silence, remembering Lucy, missing Lucy, grieving Lucy. Most of all, loving Lucy. In those moments, I knew that Rocky felt the same soul-crushing grief that I felt.

And that’s how I know that some dogs, at least, can grieve.

Not the least hard thing to bear when they go from us, these quiet friends, is that they carry away with them so many years of our own lives. – John Galsworthy

~ George

If you’re interested in reading more about animals and grief, check out these resources:

M. Bekoff. (29 October 2009). Grief in animals: It’s arrogant to think we’re the only animals who mourn. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/animal-emotions/200910/grief-in-animals-its-arrogant-think-were-the-only-animals-who-mourn

A. Heguy. (26 February 2016). Do animals grieve? Retrieved from: https://www.quora.com/Do-animals-grieve

C. Lewis (07 November 2016). Do animals grieve? Retrieved from: https://www.buddhistdoor.net/news/do-animals-grieve

C. Safina. (08 July 2015). The depths of animal grief. Retrieved from: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/next/nature/animal-grief/

Unknown. (03 May 2017). Animal grief. Retrieved from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_grief