When a family member passes away — whether they be four-legged or two — the pain can be difficult to bear.
Questions like “Why now? Why them? Why me?” echo through one’s mind, unrelenting and unanswerable.
But often, in life’s most difficult moments, our strength can come from unexpected places — like straight from the mouths of babes.
And although we expect children to grapple with the tough issues of life — like the death of a beloved pet — their innocent hearts and fresh little eyes often understand the things we don’t even detect.
In the beautiful story you’re about to read, a family is overcome with grief when they are forced to say goodbye to their sick dog, Boru.
But when they ask their 6-year-old how he feels about Boru’s death? No one was expecting this incredible answer…
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Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a 10-year-old Irish wolfhound named Boru. The dog’s owners — Ron, Lisa, and their little boy, Shane — were all very attached to Boru, and they were hoping for a miracle.
I examined Boru and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn’t do anything for Boru, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.
As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for 6-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.
The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Boru’s family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Boru slipped peacefully away.
The little boy seemed to accept Boru’s transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Boru’s death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives.
Lisa said, “I just don’t understand why they have to live such short lives compared to us.”
Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, “I know why.”
Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I’d never heard a more comforting explanation.
He said, “People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life – like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?”
The 6-year-old continued, “Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long…”
The wise words of this little boy — and the great love he had for his sweet dog — will stay with me forever.
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