We lost our friend of almost 15 years recently. Darby, our little Shih Tzu buddy died, perhaps from complications of pneumonia, but more likely he simply wore out.
It came as a shock, but absolutely no surprise.
After all, isn’t this how it always happens? We love our dogs, but we know from the moment we bring them home that we are setting ourselves up for heartbreak. We realize that the clock is ticking and our time with them is limited.
Anticipating this day, we had brought a new dog into our lives … a Lhasa Apso rescue named Sandy. Sandy was young and full of energy and Darby was old and set in his ways, but despite the age difference Sandy and Darby bonded fairly quickly.
They enjoyed each other’s company and for over a year Sandy co-existed with Darby in our home while she slowly, but surely worked her way into our hearts. Though Sandy was part of the planned succession, for a period we thought of ourselves as a two-dog family. For that span of time, we spoke in terms of needing to let the dogs out, to feed the dogs, to have the dogs groomed, to take the dogs to the vet for shots. Everything was stated in the plural.
The late comedian Mitch Hedberg, said … “Life is just series of dogs.”
Hedberg’s unique form of observational comedy would at times be hilarious, causing you to double over with laughter. Then occasionally your reaction might be little more than a subdued chuckle as it occurred to you that through a simple joke, he had just uttered an undeniable truth. With this simple line tossed out in the middle of a long comedy sketch, Mitch had gone right to the heart of the issue for dog lovers everywhere.
Because a dog’s life-span is so much shorter than a human’s, life is indeed a series of dogs. But, it’s more than just a series. That would imply that one dog replaces the other. But, is that really how it happens?
At first we viewed Sandy as a replacement. She was simply the dog who would carry on in our home and in our hearts once Darby left us. Since life is just a series of dogs, Sandy was just the next in dog the series. Of course for a while we had been a two-dog family, but now we were back to only the one. As expected, Sandy had replaced Darby.
But a curious thing had happened in the interim. We discovered another undeniable truth.
Some things are just too precious to be replaced. A replacement of something sentimental is never quite sufficient. The replacement is always inferior to the original. Instead of being a replacement, Sandy had become something far better.
Sandy had become a continuation of Darby.