I couldn’t really think of anything to blog today (and the blog I did have isn’t quite ready yet), so I’d like to share with you this touching piece called The 10 Commandments From a Dog’s Perspective by Stan Rawlinson. The first time I saw it, Noel had printed it out on our poster printer at work and hung it in his office. It was only a few weeks after our Jenah was put to sleep, and, after reading it, I went into my office and cried.
It still makes me cry to this day.
Points 9 and 10 are especially poignant. You see, every morning, either Noel or I would wake up and let Jenah out between 6 AM and 7 AM when she was older. Her pelvic muscles weren’t the same as they had been, and she would wet the towels on her couch or the floor where she was sleeping, even with medication. Every day, Noel or I would wash the towel, put another one down, and repeat the cycle when we got home from work. Every time she made a mess (by accident) on the floor, either he or I were there to clean it up. We would give her her heart medication or anti-peeing medication (as we called it) or her antibiotics or her pain medication religiously. Noel massaged her arthritic back and paws when she wasn’t feeling well. I kept trying different things to help her one time when she hurt her arm and back (a pillow strategically placed on the floor with me putting her head on it just so, and stroking her head until she finally fell asleep) so she could get some rest. When one of her eyes went, I put her eye-drops in, took her to the vet every week or as needed, and kept making sure she wasn’t in pain and doing well.
We spent time, money, and love on her, because she’d given us all her love and affection and loyalty: everything and all she could give. It was only a small price for us to pay, and I would have gladly gone bankrupt to care for her if I had to: that’s how much I loved her.
And finally, when Jenah’s other eye went and she was in a lot of distress, and she was pretty much blind, I carried her outside so she could go to the bathroom. I guided her to her water bowl, and as we waited for the vet appointment to put her to sleep, Noel and I both comforted her by petting her and holding her and giving her as much love as we could before we had to say our final good-bye.
We stayed with her during her passing. It was very quick, and she was no longer in pain. Her body went from old and racked with pain and discomfort to relaxed and free of pain and into the great beyond somewhere.
So, without further ado, I bring you:
The 10 Commandments From a Dog’s Perspective by Stan Rawlinson (1993)
- My life is likely to last 10 to 15 years; any separation from you will be painful for me. Remember that before you adopt me.
- Give me time to understand what you want from me; don’t be impatient, short-tempered, or irritable.
- Place your trust in me and I will always trust you back. Respect is earned not given as an inalienable right.
- Don’t be angry with me for long and don’t lock me up as punishment; I am not capable of understanding why. I only know I have been rejected. You have your work, entertainment, and friends, but I only have you.
- Talk to me. Even if I don’t understand your words, I do understand your voice and your tone. You only have to look at my tail.
- Be aware that however you treat me, I’ll never forget it, and if it’s cruel, it may affect me forever.
- Please don’t hit me. I can’t hit back, but I can bite and scratch, and I really don’t ever want to do that.
- Before you scold me for being uncooperative, obstinate, or lazy, ask yourself if something might be bothering me. Perhaps I’m not getting the right foods or I’ve been out in the sun too long, or my heart is getting old and weak. It may be I am just dog-tired.
- Take care of me when I get old. You too will grow old and may also need love, care, comfort, and attention.
- Go with me on difficult journeys. Never say, “I can’t bear to watch” or “Let it happen in my absence.” Everything is easier for me if you are there. Remember, regardless of what you do, I will always love you.
We went on a few difficult journeys in her last weeks alive, and the final one was the hardest of all. But it was the least we could do for such a loving, wonderful companion after she’d given nearly her whole life to be devoted to us.
If you’d like to read more about Jenah, please see my previous blog entries, “Jenah” and “Jenah: A Year After Her Passing“.
I wrote the Ten Commandments For Dogs. However I was humbled by the love and dedication this family gave to their ageing dog. I have lost two dogs in the last six months and it never gets any easier. But the kind of love shown here is fantastic.
First, I’m sorry to hear about your loss, especially two pets so close together in a short period of time. I have gone through this too, losing our old cat Celeste to old age on Easter Monday 2008 and our Chihuahua Nyota suddenly on Queen’s Birthday (NZ) 2008, so I do understand how you feel.
Our remaining dog, Nyota’s brother Levi, is 16 and we learned a few weeks ago that we may not have him much longer because of his heart. So we’re just making every day a special day for him. Yesterday (Sunday here), both Noel and I had to work, so it was outside his usual routine. Once I got home, he fell fast asleep on my lap and had a big smile on his face. It’s the moments like these I remember.
Second, thank you so much for your kind words. You’ve written a message that has touched me deeply on my birthday, of all days.
Third, your words in the Ten Commandments From a Dog’s Perspective are words that spoke to me the most, and they continue to do that. It’s sometimes hard for me to express what I feel when wonderful writers like you can put it so much more eloquently than I can.
Thanks again for reading and I look forward to reading your blog!
Scott Fack 🙂
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