This morning I was forced to say goodbye to one of my best friends in the world. This guy, at times, put fear into people due mainly to his size. He was a big boy. He weighed over 250 pounds. However, after a few seconds in his presence, it became apparent to all that he was the very definition of a gentle giant, and, quite literally lived up to the all-too-common cliche of one afraid of his own shadow.
Often a tedious, sauntering Eeyore-esque personality of a humdrum, dreary, and forlorn old man, Linus liked to keep to himself, though he was rarely averse to any affection one might be willing to show him. Whether it be a gentle rubbing of the area between his eyes or a rigorous scratching of the loose fur of his "chest" area, Linus was always amenable to love. And that was enough. Showing him love allowed us to witness just how much he loved us.
I have lost two English Mastiffs in the past 9 years. It is difficult to tender an answer to the question as to why humans are so open and willing to expose themselves to the overwhelmingly brutal pain of losing a pet, but I think I can surmise a relatively simple yet valid and authentic response. They are worth it.
As I sat there in that eerily familiar and devastatingly heart-breaking position of holding my dog's big head in my arms moments before he was injected with a permanent sedative, I knew that his purpose in this world was served. He made my life better. He made the life of my family better. He brought joy and happiness into our lives every single day he was alive and, for that, we are forever indebted to that big, lovable oaf.
There are many old adages, comfort phrases, and short narratives and anecdotes we have all heard about pets upon their death, I believe, in an effort to make the pain just a little easier to bear. There is a lot of pain. I am dealing with it right now - an almost unbearable pain, as I have lost a big part of my life. I have lost a rock. A sure thing. A constant and an unconditional. I have lost a great friend. But I know that the pain is not a bad thing. The pain means he did his job. He served his purpose. He showed us what unconditional love is all about. He lived the life in his short time on this earth that we, as humans, should all aspire to lead in however many years we have here.
It has only been a couple hours, but I miss him already… Rest in Peace, Big Fella.
An excerpt from 'A Celebration of Dogs' by Roger Caras
We give them the love we can spare, the time we can spare.
In return, dogs have given us their absolute all.
It is, without a doubt, the best deal man has ever made.