Your Last Day
We had a bit of a scare recently. Ol’ Willie Wonka had to duck, dodge, and high tail it away from… the light! I’m happy to report that he’s doing well and got a completely clean bill of health on Monday, after about 3 weeks of evading my old nemesis, the Grim Reaper. The guy is hard to evade, but a sore loser he is not. Another story…
Amid that scare, as a family we were faced with not only the possibility of having to say our Goodbyes, but having to choose the right time at which to say our final farewell. There is no good way to choose which day or time to bid farewell to a big chunk of your family’s heart. We have counted our blessings many times over in recent weeks, as we did not have to make that final call.
We tried to think of a way to celebrate what fleeting time we may have had left: A roadtrip? Sunset on our favorite slice of heaven? Doggy treats for dinner? Extra long walk? At the time, Ol’ Willie’s health wasn’t well enough for him to do or enjoy any of those old favorite things. Evening in front of the fire? Cuddled up with the kids on the couch for some Doc Who time? Great ways to spend your last day, but also nothing out of the ordinary for Willie. In essence, there was no way to celebrate in any grandiose fashion, because every day of Willie’s life he has celebrated as if it were his last. That’s a Good Boy!
We did come up with one small thing we could do for Willie. Every night when I go to bed, there is Willie in the exact geometric center of my bed, warming it, and he gives me a stern grumble when I scoot him over so that I can sleep there too. When we thought Willie might be spending his last night with us, I let him have that spot, and I slept at the foot of the bed. (Don’t feel too bad for me, it’s a big bed!) That’s it. That’s all we could come up with. The King’s Ransom of the bed. There was nothing else worthwhile that Willie hadn’t done, seen, or lived.
Willie has seen and done so many things with us as a family. Countless wild goose chases in the family truckster… witnessed that big bright ball in the sky slipping under the horizon as we sat and watched for no apparent reason. He joins in, even if he doesn’t know why we’re doing what we’re doing. He loves bedtime books, although he doesn’t understand many of the words. He sits in front of the crackling fire even though he doesn’t know why it burns. He steals a few minutes in our laps even if it’s not the most comfortable place in the house.
Ride the hayrack? Uhm sure, we could just walk but if you’ve got your heart set on it, Willie will play along. Pretend he likes my guitar playing? Dance? Scream and run in circles? Climb that mountain just for the view? Sure why not, there’s probably something up there worth sniffing. Yep, that’s a Good Boy! A puppy dog face in your hands when your heart is heavy, and a nip at your heels when you’re playful? Yeah Willie does all that. Every day.
It’s not all fun and games though. Willie is the burglar alarm and the homework monitor. He sits quietly while we get our work done and waits for us to have time to play. He monitors my blood pressure and nudges me with a cold wet nose when I need to cool down a little. Reminds me when I need to be walked, and alerts me to kids having bad dreams. He keeps the floor clean of crumbs and makes rounds in the night to be sure the area is secure.
Willie sounds like a very rich canine, right? None of these things cost him a dime. He just goes along with the ones he loves most, for whatever ride we’re on. He doesn’t pitch a fit if we don’t do what he wanted to do that day. Everything we find interesting, he finds interesting. He won’t ever regret that he wasn’t able to save up enough money to see Egypt. Our 20 year old Chevy van is just as much fun to him as a new Cadillac would be. Willie doesn’t see through material possessions or places or social status… he’s unable to see them at all. He loves his family, and everything they do. He’s not interested in much else.
My reason for writing this story is not to try to explain what a brush with death does to a person, to a dog, or to those who love that person and/or dog. It’s really not something you can understand unless it happens to you, just like you can’t know what the searing kiss of hot lead feels like until it kisses you. My point is that Willie didn’t need a brush with death to know what is most important in his life.
How about you? If today was your last day, would you look back on your life and be completely unable to think of a single thing that you wished you’d made a major part of your life while you could have? Would the center of the bed be the only place in your own life that you’d never been? Would you regret not listening to someone play an instrument poorly? Would you wish you’d gone to more sunsets while you had the chance? On your last day, you won’t get an opportunity to go back and redo it. At least most people don’t. Don’t wait until that day.
We all know that the life of the family dog is often a posh one. What I think we often overlook is that the family dog finds more joy in one day than most humans do in a month. Or a year. Or a lifetime. Forget about the doggy treats and the dog bed and all the things we do FOR our dogs, and think for a moment about how much your dog enjoys the joys he brings your family.
Do you see through the haze that life is often veiled in, and see with great clarity what is most important to you? Willie sees only black and white. A life spent with and for family is a good one, and a life without those things wouldn’t be very colorful. Are you enjoying your life more than my dog is enjoying his? Are you living your life with all your heart in all the right places? Are you as smart as my dog?
None of us can answer all of those questions as perfectly as we’d like to. I just hope that Willie and I helped you stop and be honest with yourself about at least a few of them. Did I mention that he’s a Good Boy?
Cheers from The www.ThreeFiveZero.com Dogs