It's no secret that I am in love with dogs. I didn't grow up with them, but I adopted one the minute I married. This is where my love began. Belvedere was an English Bulldog. Not the lovey on your lap kind of dog. He was the kind that pulled me around the block and ate furniture when brought into the house. But I loved him. He opened the door for me to love other dogs.
Soon after came Chester and Winston. Both of them changed me forever. They made me a better person. I will always have them in my heart. And that brings me to Benny and Schoep. These dogs were not mine. But their humans shared them with many. I did have the opportunity to meet Benny. He was the fun loving fella that lived next door to my parents. Benny and my dad had a connection. They visited often. Dad said he genuinely felt an affectionate bond between them. A little over a week ago, dad and Benny shared their last visit. Benny saw something interesting and died shortly after darting out into the street.
And a few weeks ago Schoep died. I never met him. Or his human, John. Schoep was this wonderful boy who had the love of a man that helped him reach the age of 20. He was hard of hearing and had poor eyesight. His hips were bad and he had arthritis. But somehow John found a way to comfort him and restore some pep to this beautiful boy. John would carry Schoep into the lake and let the water work its healing wonders on him. Schoep touched thousands of lives because of a picture that was in a newspaper of John and Schoep on one of their trips to the lake. The world was honored to be with John and Schoep in their journey together.
I am writing about these two boys because they are universal ambassadors of love. We as humans provide them with love, food, water and a home. We make sure that they have proper medical care and licenses. But what they give back to us is priceless. They teach us to love at a level deeper than we ever knew we could. They teach us to be thoughtful. To be happy to see each other. Every time we come home. They teach us to be patient and kind. To exercise. They teach us to play and be silly. They show us that even though they don't speak to us, they understand. They are incredibly forgiving. They never see us humans as flawed.
I know these families are grieving the loss of Benny and Schoep. Many others are mourning with them. And this is where we can take a lesson from our furry loved ones. Be gentle in this time. With yourself. Allow yourself the time to feel. Remember some of the valuable lessons these wonderful creatures have taught us. Be thoughtful and happy to see each other. Every time we come home. Be patient and kind. Be silly and play. Exercise. Understand and forgive. And keep your heart open to love again. This is the best way I know of to honor our four-legged family members.