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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Only Way to Fail When You Have Loved a Pet


Grady and I were walking one rainy evening up one of the main streets in our town... just off the Main Street.  As we reached the place we usually crossed to take the road to the village school, a moment was captured in time. If only we could turn it back and rewind. 

Grady and I waited at the edge of the street. As we were looking both ways before crossing, we heard a voice across the street call, "Widgie!" Widgie!"  The woman was calling for her dog; a beautiful Bernese Mountain Dog. The dog was running towards the street. Fast. Towards us. It had seen Grady and I guess it was rushing out to say hello to her.  It had no clue that a car was coming from Main Street. The car was not going fast; perhaps 25 mph. The roads were slippery from the rain. The dog kept running. It all seemed in slow motion. I can count on one hand how many times I have screamed in my life, but deep out of my gut came a loud involuntary scream. The collision was inevitable.

After the impact, the dog picked itself off the road and dragged itself into the nearby bushes.  We ran over, as did the owners, and we were with it until it lay lifeless... it just took a few moments. I thought it was interesting at the time that as soon as Widgie's spirit left, Grady turned and was ready to leave too. She knew his spirit had left his body, while Widgie's family clung to him and draped themselves over him crying --- like most humans do when the final moment comes. 

There was something about the incident. I felt responsible. Jack says in his book, if he could have any wish, he would always be in the right place at the right time.  I couldn't help but think If Only! If only Grady and I hadn't been walking at that time at that place! If only we had gone the other way towards the park instead of this way towards the school.  I felt to blame.  



I took a bouquet of flowers to the people the next day. They were very appreciative. With tear-filled eyes they told me "We should have gone through obedience training; then he would have come when we called."  "We should have built a fence; he never would have been near the street."  Shoulda. Coulda. Woulda. We all do it.  The following week they were building a stockade fence. A few months later they had another dog, a Bernese also, and they were getting ready to start Obedience Training classes.  They had learned the important lesson that the loving Widgie had come to teach. 

We can get stuck on the guilt forever if we allow it to take over our minds.  Or we can learn from it and do better next time. This is what life is all about. Life is the school, love is the lesson.  We learn from every pet that comes to us what to do next time.  Eventually, if we have enough "teachers" and we are willing to learn from our circumstances, we will get it right. It will come as second nature. 



Widgie crossed Rainbow Bridge satisfied, knowing that he had fulfilled his promise. Like all other pets, he came into this life to teach. His loving "students" learned from the love of him...and the loss of him.  This is why pets don't live so long. We need enough sessions with them to get it right.  They live just long enough for us to live our lives with them and get it right.  It's all by Design and so are the circumstances.  I learned too. That's why I'm here on this blog and that's why I wrote "Jack McAfghan: Reflections on Life with my Master", to share what I've learned from Jack and from Grady. And from Widgie.

It's not our fault, it's just life.  We only fail if we fail to learn.



7 comments:

Michele Freeman said...

We all have the what ifs or the I should have done this instead of that. That is the hardest part of anyone's story but you are right. God knows when it is time and so do our beloved pets. I have often wondered why my sweet Bella at only 5 years old. I now can put the pieces together. None of my other pets got what Bella got from me. She got all my love. She lived a full life in her 5 short years. I now give more to my other pets so they too know they are loved and will be able to cross the bridge knowing I loved them. It won't be as hard next time because Bella taught me how to love so much and that in return I too would be loved. I was blessed to have the best gift of all.. Unconditional love from my sweet Bella. She is my Guardian Angel.

Jack McAfghan said...

Beautiful Bella is so happy you have learned what she came to teach you. Love teaches us all that we are and all that we are capable of being. Thank you Michele for sharing this with us today.

Sutton May said...

Oh no. I SO love animals and can't bear life without at least a hamster. How many lessons have I learned and how many more to go!! It is my wish to be the most loving Momma ever but patience seems to be a big lesson for me but hopefully not from all of them. I always want them all to know I love them. Their eyes and faces are so expressive and when I lose my temper... I seem to have been going through some wonderful life lessons with male cats and I'm certain I failed that one because I went through it with four male kitties. Pumpkin...that was a disaster, I tried so hard and couldn't fix him. Maybe that was it. No more male kitties for me. Everyone is a student and a teacher, but I am very tired of lessons. I really did love him. My little Dodo. I still feel like there had to be something I was missing, something I could have done. I feel like I failed him.

His last day when I took him to the vet he was so calm and purring, which was unlike his usual loud yowling. I realize he must have known what was up and was okay with it but I was not reassured.

P.S. I am so grateful for you and your love for answering so many questions and soothing our fears. ♡

Kate McGahan said...

She IS your Guardian Angel. She always was. You were a very good student and perhaps you have already learned that when you love completely without judgment or condition, it makes everything easier. You are less stressed, less torn up about the little things that drive people apart. Thank you for sharing this -- I am sorry that I only found it tonight. It's my guess that you are even further along than you were when you wrote this. Thank you for being such a good and supportive friend to all of us. We love you Michele and we'll see you soon. xo

Kate McGahan said...

She IS your Guardian Angel. She always was. You were a very good student and perhaps you have already learned that when you love completely without judgment or condition, it makes everything easier. You are less stressed, less torn up about the little things that drive people apart. Thank you for sharing this -- I am sorry that I only found it tonight. It's my guess that you are even further along than you were when you wrote this. Thank you for being such a good and supportive friend to all of us. We love you Michele and we'll see you soon. xo

Jack McAfghan said...

Thank you Sutton May for loving the animals. We wish more people would be like you. You say you feel you have failed. You have not failed. You have learned more patience than you realize. You have learned that when we look at you -- our eyes to your eyes--- that we are teaching you by our reactions. As for Pumpkin/Dodo --- you did not fail. What you must know is that you cannot always "fix" someone or something. Think how hard it is to change yourself and know that it is doubly hard to change someone else. Your lesson in this is to accept that you cannot fix some of us; that you can only accept us where we're at in the relationship that we have with you. It's about letting go. Try to look from the eyes of unconditional love which has no conditions and no judgment of Right or Wrong. Pumpkin knew he had done what he came here to do (had he not, you would not have written about him tonight). He was so happy to move on to Rainbow Bridge where he looks upon you now (from that place of unconditional love) and purrs and purrs and purrs because he loves you and he knows you love him too. Thank you for writing, my friend, and we look forward to seeing you again soon. Love, Jack

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