You get a puppy or new dog and everything is fresh and possible. You dream of the adventures you’ll take, you watch them discover the world through fresh eyes, and marvel at the impossible pace at which they grow and learn. Everything is amazing and always will be.
Your life is filled with adventure. The days are spent with your new best friend, right next to you as you go through all of life’s changes. New jobs, new partners, new houses, new mountains. Your dog is there through it all, supporting you every step of the way.
And then, as if through a cruel surprise, the inevitable end comes. You have to say goodbye. Maybe it happens in fifteen years, five years, or only a year and a half. However long, it is always too short. Maybe it is sudden and unexpected, or you have months to acknowledge the final days. Whatever the time or situation, it never feels good. It always leaves a hole in your soul that only a certain dog can fill.
It’s easy to open yourself up and let this furry creature into your heart when you’re at the beginning of the journey, but now, here at the end, maybe even a small part of yourself is thinking, “Was it worth all this pain?”
When we open up and make ourselves vulnerable to love, there is always the risk of pain. There simply isn’t a way around it. And when it hurts, oh, how it hurts. Deeply feeling the joy and love that comes from having a dog means that you may deeply feel the loss and pain of their absence. Ironically, feeling both the love and loss fully, each appropriate for their own time and place, makes the other sweeter. The pain you may feel at losing your dog is offset by the memories you made when you were present and joyful together. Your ability to be fully present and joyful in each moment is heightened by the knowledge that these moments won’t be possible one day. It’s in this knowledge where true growth and beauty lies.
Don’t get me wrong, vulnerability is hard. Opening yourself up to the chance of loss is hard. It is also mind bendingly beautiful when you see how making yourself vulnerable is the avenue to true joy and love. Use the possibility of loss to dig in deeper to your feelings of joy and contentment and love. Be present for your dog here and now, so that when the loss comes you can feel comforted by the memories of happiness and the knowledge that you gave it your all.
Live your life so that at the end of you and your dog’s journey, when you’re asking yourself “Was it worth it?” the answer can be a wholehearted, resounding YES!