How could you? By Jim Willis 2001.

A Man in Grand Rapids, Michigan, incredibly took out a US $7000 full-page advert in the paper to present this. "How could you?"

When I was a puppy I entertained you with my antics and made you laugh. You called me your child and in spite of a number if chewed shoes and a couple of murdered throw pillows I became your best friend. Whenever I was 'bad', you'd shake your finger at me and ask, "How could you?" but then you'd relent and roll me over for a belly rub.

My housebreaking took a little longer than expected because you were terribly busy, but we worked on that together. I remember those nights of nuzzling you in bed and listening to your confidences and secret dreams, and I believed that life could not be more perfect. We went for long walks and runs in the park, car rides, stopped for ice cream, (I only got the cone because "ice cream is bad for dogs" you said), and I took long naps in the sun waiting for you to come home at the end of the day.

Gradually you began spending more time at work and on your career, and more time searching for a human mate. I waited patiently, comforted you through your heartbreaks and disappointments, never chided you about bad decisions and romped with glee at your homecomings and when you fell in love.

She, now your wife, is not a 'dog person' - still, I welcomed her into our home, tried to show her affection and obeyed her. I was happy because you were happy. Then the human babies came along and I shared your excitement. I was fascinated by their pinkness, how they smelled, and I wanted to mother them too. Only you and she worried that I might hurt them, and I spent most of my time banished to another room or my dog crate.

Oh, how I wanted to love them but I had become a 'prisoner of love'. As they began to grow I became their friend. They clung to my fur and pulled themselves up on wobbly legs, poked fingers in my eyes, investigated my ears and gave me kisses on my nose. I loved everything about them and their touch - because your touch was now so infrequent - and I would defend them with my life if need be. I would sneak into their beds and listen to their worries and secret dreams, and together we waited for the sound of your car in the driveway.

There had been a time when others asked if you had a dog, that you produced a photo of me from your wallet and told them stories about me. These past few years you just answered "yes" and changed the subject. I had gone from being 'your dog' to 'just a dog' and you resented any expenditure on my behalf.

Now you have a new career opportunity and you and they will be moving to an apartment that does not allow pets. You've made the right decision for your 'family' but there was a time when I was 'your only family'. I was excited about the car ride until we arrived at the animal shelter. It smelled of dogs and cats, of fear and hopelessness. You filled out the paperwork and said, "I know you will find a good home for her". They shrugged and gave you a pained look. They understand the realities facing a middle-aged dog, even one with 'papers'. You had to prise your son's fingers as he screamed "no Daddy, please don't let them take my dog". I worried for him and what lessons you had just taught him about friendship and loyalty, and love and responsibility and about respect for life. You gave me a goodbye pat on the head, avoided my eyes and politely refused to take my collar and lead with you. You had a deadline to meet and now I had one too. After you left the two nice ladies said you probably knew about your up-coming move months ago and made no attempt to find me another good home. They shook their heads and said, "How could you?"

They are as attentive to us in the shelter as their busy schedules allow. They feed us, of course, but I lost my appetite days ago. At first, whenever anyone passed my pen, I rushed to the front, hoping it was you, that you had changed your mind-that this was all a bad dream-or I hoped it would at least be someone who cared, anyone who might save me. When I realised I could not compete with the frolicking for attention of happy puppies, oblivious of their own fate, I retreated to a far corner and waited. I heard her footsteps as she came for me at the end of the day, and I padded along the aisle after her to a separate room. She placed me on a table, rubbed my ears and told me not to worry. My heart pounded in anticipation of what was to come, but there was also a sense of relief.

This 'prisoner of love' had run out of days. As is my nature I was more concerned about her. The burden that she bears weighs heavily on her, and I know that the same way I knew your every mood. She gently placed the tourniquet around my foreleg as a tear ran down her cheek. I licked her hand in the same way I used to comfort you so many years ago. She expertly slid the hypodermic needle into my vein. As I felt the sting and the cool liquid coursing through my body I lay down sleepily, looked into her eyes and murmured, "How could you?" Perhaps because she understood my dog speak she said, "I'm so sorry". She hugged me and hurriedly explained that it was her job to make sure I went to a better place, where I couldn't be ignored or abused or abandoned or to have to fend for myself--a place of love and light so very different from this earthly place. With my last bit of energy I tried to convey to her with a thump of my tail that my "How could you?" was not directed at her. It was directed at you, My Beloved Master. I was thinking of you and wait for you forever. May everyone in your life continue to show you so much loyalty.


Anyone is welcome to distribute the essay for a non-commercial purpose, as long as it is properly attributed to the author. Please do your part to stop the killing and encourage all spay and neuter campaigns in order to prevent unwanted animals.
Please pass this on to everyone, not to hurt them or even make them sad, but so that it might save maybe, even one unwanted pet.
Jim Willis.

Little Girl

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