Little did I realize when I went out to dinner one evening with my grandson, Timmy, that he would give me an idea for a column.
At dinner Timmy brought up the subject of Amber and what it meant to him to have lost her a couple of years ago, when he was 6 years old. Amber was my Doberman Pinscher who died of dilated cardiomyopathy the day after Timmy and his family left for a vacation to Maine. It was very painful for the children to come home and have her gone. In the two years since it happened he has thought a lot about losing Amber. Through this experience an 8-year-old has learned about life and death.
As he talked to me about it, I realized that Timmy has learned an important life-lesson. During our conversation, he said, “I miss Amber but I am glad she knew we all loved her before she died.”
After coming home, I thought about how much our dogs teach us and fulfill us in our everyday lives. What we go through with our dogs in a microcosm of life. Through them we experience life and death, success and failure, elation and depression, and the miracle of birth. Through these experiences we are able to grow and develop as human beings.
Here is something to consider: What needs of ours are satisfied through having our dogs and through our hobby?
First, we all want to love and be loved. Our dogs provide us with this.
We all want self-esteem. We achieve that with our dogs when we realize that we cared for an animal in a responsible way, and we also gain self esteem when we have bred a really good dog.
We all need a feeling of belonging. In the world of dogs, we have clubs, shows, and social events that help us to establish this and develop our own identity.
Through our dogs, we learn about satisfying basic needs and about coping successfully with the reality of life with all its ups and downs, successes and failures, births and deaths, and we grow as individuals because of all this. We are fulfilled not only when we cope with life, but when we function at our peak capacity.
Let us vow to allow ourselves to be motivated to find more self-fullment through our experiences with our dogs and all that they bring to our lives.
Thank you, Timmy, for your insight, and for helping me see the importance of what our dogs mean in our lives. Amber, we miss you, and we thank you for the time we had together and for giving a little boy the gift of love.
Amelia Averil, 8 Willow Brook Rd., Hillsdale, NJ 07612.