I don't have any pets. I used to always have a house full: dogs, cats, fish, hamsters. But for the past few years, I have tended only to humans and plants.
Today, I documented the story of Briggs, a Boston Terrier who was stolen from his East Side yard, but thanks to the relentless efforts of his caregivers, Josh and Tricia O'Malley, and many other volunteers and media outlets, he was returned, unharmed, after 17 days.
I am blown away by the O'Malleys' love for Briggs. Hearing and writing about this story reminds me of the tremendous impact pets, particularly dogs, have on our lives. They are more than "pets;" they are family members.
But when they leave us, there's a big paw-shaped hole that can never really be filled again in quite the same way.
This is why, in part, I do not have any pets. After my dog of 13 years Clay died three years ago, I decided I was not going to put myself through that kind of emotional pain anymore.
The end was the worst. I carried him up and down the stairs to let him outside when he was too weak to walk. At 75 pounds, he was almost too heavy for me, and he knew it. He looked at me with eyes so grateful, I would close myself in my office, away from the kids and weep. After one such occasion, I decided I would not get another pet.
And I haven't.
But I know avoiding the loss also means I'm avoiding the bond. It always goes back to Shakespeare, "It's better to have loved and lost ..." I believe this to be true, and yet, I am not ready to open my heart to another four-legged fur ball that's gonna up and die on me in a decade.
Maybe someday I'll feel differently.
When teaching knife skills, I often remind the student, "Once you conquer your fear of the knife, you will reach a whole new level. But remember, part of conquering that fear is cutting yourself."
I would be devastated if my dog was taken from me (by thieves or death) but I wouldn't have it any other way. It sounds like Briggs' disappearance also helped to save another dog as well, so that family loves, loses, gains, finds, and loves double.
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