Life is all about change. We’re constantly moving forward in time, although we are blessed to be able recall memories of days gone by. Friends are those who are a part of those memories, and to be able to sit and talk about those memories is a truly wonderful event and remarkable interaction.
And life goes on…As circumstances change, we lose touch with some friends as we make new ones. I once learned a song at scout camp:
Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver and the other gold.
The memories shared with an old friend really are golden, and when you do have an opportunity to see them and share those memories, it is a heart-warming moment.
Sometimes, as you see life changing, and you see yourself parting from friends, it can be really tough know how to take it. Do you hold on tight, denying & fighting the inevitable? Or do you relax, open your hands, and take the changes as they come? Personally, I think it comes down to faith. Faith in God, faith in His plan for us, and faith in our friendship to outlast change.
But what if your friend is an animal?
When you open yourself up to love a pet, you know (at least on some level) that you will one day have to say goodbye to your friend. Often-times, it will end up being your decision to end your pet’s life, as old age & disease decrease the quality of life. Do you cling on desperately, ignoring the eventual outcome? Do you just give up & let go, figuring that death will win anyway. Maybe you’re somewhere in between, exploring every option so you can make an informed decision.
Part of my job as a veterinarian is to help pet owners make these decisions. It is a big responsibility, and often weighs heavy on my soul. My goal is always to give the pet as much time as possible with their loved ones, as long as quality of life is there. Once we’ve reached the point of no return, I hope to give the pets a peaceful and respectful passing. And once the initial tears are gone, I hope to leave my clients with joyful memories.
How do you say good-bye to a furry friend? Usually I’ll recommend extra moments spent together, especially captured on film. Pictures are great things for stirring memories. Sometimes I’ll let owners give their pet all of those wonderful treats and goodies (especially the good cuts of steak!) that were denied during the times of treatment. But most important are the quiet times, spent with friends and family, just being petted and loved; these are the times when the two souls connect.
Sometimes, though, I’m not (or not just) the veterinarian, I’m a two-legged friend. The sadness comes from my loss, and the tears shed are mine. Sometimes I know the end is coming, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I’m present at the end, sometimes I’m not. But the opportunity to say goodbye is one I treasure and I’m always grateful to have it.
And so I come to the reason for this entry, as I finish my goodbye to another friend. His name was Sampson, a cream-colored lab that in every way lived up to his name. His wide frame, his deep voice and his big heart made him a very special boy: the quintessential companion dog.
He was, along with his brother Frazier, my daughter’s best friend when she was a toddler. Sampson was always more reserved and calm, making him the best option when you needed to snuggle. He was so very smart and could be counted on to entertain with his large bag of tricks. He knew when I called his name in that certain way he was in for some poking or prodding; he always gave in and came, giving me that funny look that said, “OK, but I’m not sure I’m gonna like this.” Always wanting to be in the action, but never crowding to get there, he made a perfect friend to help a toddler find her feet and her love for animals.
For me, time with Sampson was always calming to my soul. Looking into those soulful eyes and running hands over that luxurious coat, along with his generous & quiet spirit, were all that I need to relax. He was a great example of the tremendous gift we are given by God putting animals in our lives. He was, and always will be, one of my most treasured friends. He went to heaven last week, and I know he will be one to greet me when I get there.
How do you say goodbye to a friend? Tell them you love them, will always cherish them, and will see them again when the time is right. Although it may seem forever, it really is just a while.
So goodbye, dear Sampson. I do love you; I’ll remember you forever and make sure my daughter does, too. And we’ll be together someday, doing tricks or just sitting together. I promise there won’t be any poking or prodding, just petting & hanging out.
Until next time…