Putting a Dog Down, Easing the Emotional Pain.

by Sleddoggin Staff on February 26, 2012

Article by Betty Bulldog

It is said that a dog wears his heart on his tail and that the tail of a dog acts as a barometer for his emotions. This meter of emotions can be held under complete control through a human’s tone of voice, let alone the off the Richter Scale excitement from a scratch in a favorite spot. The emotional bond between humans and dogs is strong and runs deep between both parties. Losing a tail wagging companion is never easy. When dealing with any type of loss, books, movies, poetry and inspirational tapes provide a mechanism to help sort through mixed emotions. These items also help to facilitate healing, which is fundamental to the process of closure needed at the end of any meaningful relationship.

The book Marley & Me deals with the loss of a tail wagging companion and brings to light many important aspects of a human-canine relationship. For anyone who has ever sat down to read this book, the first chapter is one that creates a real choke hold on dog lovers. Marley so captures the essence of the emotional bonding that takes place between a person and a special canine that for most readers it brings about the experience a joyful-cry. Author, John Grogan’s words captured the hearts of readers in such a way that his first book propelled with ease to the top of the best seller’s list in 2005.

Although written for an adult audience, Grogan’s work quickly became popular among young readers. Along with his latest memoir, The Longest Trip Home, Grogan has since authored several books geared for children. Grogan’s highly acclaimed collection of fully illustrated children’s books includes: Bad Dog Marley, Marley Goes to School, and A Very Marley Christmas. Grogan’s books are ones that help an individual cope with the loss of a tail-wagging companion as his works expresses both the joy and sorrow encountered in the privilege of sharing one’s life with a canine.Because of the special nature of dogs, many classic books that are composed around canines. Included in canine literature are the books: Old Yeller, Lassie, Beautiful Joe, Big Red, Rin Tin Tin, White Fang and The Incredible Journey. Of course no children’s classic canine-book collection would be complete without the novel, A Dog of Flanders. Most of these books have been adapted for film or TV, but the books serve more as a form of literary art, rather than entertainment.

Dogs are such unique creatures that various canine-ality types have been immortalized in cartoonland, with some of our favorites including: Snoopy, Scooby Doo, Blues Clues, Hunckleberry Hound, Underdog, Odie, Droopy Dog, Pluto, Goofy and Quick Draw McGraw. Both the big screen and the little screen have produced its share of celebrity hounds and animated classics such as: Lady and the Tramp, 101 Dalmatians, The Shaggy Dogs, Turner and Hooch, Wishbone and Benji. Clearly, and as exemplified by celebrities like Paris Hilton and Oprah, dogs rule Hollywood.

The emotional bond that develops between humans and canines is like no other human-animal relationship on the planet. In light of the many important roles and services dogs provide, canine attributes deserve special recognition and praise. With all due respect to the other creatures with whom we share this planet, it is the diverse nature, skill set, and intelligence of the canine species that comes into play with so many important aspects of human existence.

With over 400 recognized breeds of dogs around the world, the canine species is the most varied mammal on the planet. The selective breeding of dogs to enhance particular characteristics has created a plethora of new shapes and sizes over the past 150 years. Many of these characteristics were breed for task-orientated purposes, as dogs have historically held positions as herders, guardians and rescue animals. The annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, considered to be America’s most prestigious dog show, judges a wide variety of breeds during the two-day event. More than 2500 dogs, from over 150 breeds are judged closely by eminent American Kennel Club (AKC) judges. One can truly see how varied this species has become during the past century and a half by watching the Westminster.

The dynamic essence of the canine spirit becomes so intertwined with ours that they can be trained as eyes for our blind, ears for our deaf, as well as they can give independence to our physically disabled. Dogs have the natural instincts to become therapists, without obtaining a doctorate’s degree. Where the average pet is not permitted or allowed in our society, service dogs are welcome as they perform a valuable function and duty for their guided human partner.

Dogs have proven to be able to blend their senses with ours on such a profound level that they forget they are a separate entity. Guide dogs act as human extensions rather than just merely a human’s pet. These special creatures have the incredible ability to mirror their partner’s needs, while they give up their individuality to become a reliable source of instincts and survival for humans.

The canine is among the few creatures who serve alongside our police and military officers. The U.S. Military has been using working dogs since World War I. Dogs were used in WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Persian Gulf, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afganistan and Iraq. During Vietnam alone it is estimated these courageous canine heroes saved over 10,000 lives. All branches of our Armed Forces utilize Military Patrol Dogs specialized in drug and bomb/explosive detection. Currently in the Middle East there are approximately 600-700 Military Patrol Dogs being used.

Of all of the tributes there are to our canine companions, one that exemplifies their unique capabilities and special role they have in our lives is the book Dog Heroes of September 11th. This book is one that should grace every dog lovers coffee table, as it is the first major publication to salute the dogs who came to the aid of our nation after the terrorists’ strikes on America. Written by award winning canine journalist, Nona Kilgore Bauer, the book pays tribute to the dog and handler teams that were deployed after the attacks. A portion of the proceeds from the book benefit the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation and its mission to produce certified search and rescue teams to protect our whole nation. This book is a must read, the stories are amazing and truly inspirational.

In trying to access how and why dogs impact our lives, it is important to point out their many varied attributes, from being integrated as life saving heroes to a cuddly tea cup pocket pooch, dogs give us so much of themselves to human existence. Perhaps the most extreme example of human-canine relationships is shown in the annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Alaska. Even the Tour de France takes second place to this test of human-canine endurance, willpower and survival. Where riders in the Tour ride as a team, the dogs of the Iditarod act as a single unit with their musher. The mushers and their team of typically 16 dogs cover 1,161 miles in eight to fifteen days. During this highly competative race, teams frequently race through blizzards causing whiteout conditions and sub-zero weather, along with gale-force winds that can cause wind-chill factors to reach -100 degrees Fahrenheit. To be able to endure this race takes the will power equivalent to that of cancer survivor Lance Armstrong. It is no wonder that humans bond so closely with these tail wagging creatures and their death can have such an emotional impact on us.

It is easy to become attached to our pets and it is difficult to let go of this attachment. One way of viewing the loss of our tail wagging companion is to realize how intertwined their spirit becomes with our soul. Perhaps it is their loving spirit that ascends to a higher dimension that carries our senses and perceptions to a new level. Letting go is just a matter of realizing how blessed we were to have enjoyed their tail wagging companionship for the time that we were able to. Although the pet that we lost will always have a special place in our hearts, carrying the happiness they gave us benefits much more than carrying grief over our loss. What they gave us were sharper instincts and intuition, that is something that we can give back and pass along in an attempt to keep those tails waggin!

Betty Bulldog has been loving and respecting dogs for 25 years. She offers free dog health information for dog lovers at dogZdogZ.com. Also take a free dog training course. Keep those tails waggin! Betty Bulldog http://dogZdogZ.com

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