Pets are God’s way of teaching us to love, to let go, and to love again.
It’s hard for me to understand why, when some folks lose a beloved companion animal, they say, “I can’t ever have another one; it hurts too much to lose them.” This is true: the death of a beloved dog or cat leaves a ragged dog- or cat-shaped hole in your being. The passing of a best friend hurts, and the pain lasts a long time. If you think about it, the pain never goes away, but becomes a part of your self that you learn to live with, day-to-day. But to deny yourself future joy because of present pain? Were the years of loving companionship not more than worth the ache of loss? Would it really be better never to have loved at all? Is your heart not big enough to hold a new love?
Of course we can’t literally replace a beloved pet who’s gone, but through the rescue or adoption of a dog or cat who is homeless and in need of love, we can fill an empty space in our homes, hearts, and daily routines, and add another patch, stitched in place with love, memories, and tears, to the multicolored quilt that is the animal lover’s heart.
Each animal who pads across our life enlarges and enriches it in a unique way, adding another color, another pattern, and another layer of warmth. Loving one strengthens us just a little more, so that we can keep on loving. Every dog who has left my life to cross the Bridge left a warm, cozy, dog-shaped hollow in my emotions, just the right shape and size to fit another homeless dog who needs a protector and a lifetime friend.
Saving another life in honor and memory of one who has “crossed the Bridge.” That’s the essence of paying it forward, and we can keep doing that for a lifetime.
[originally published on Facebook 4 November 2012]
Photo: “Sweet dreams Darla,” borrowed from http://sewcalgal.blogspot.com/2010/07/pets-of-quilts-show-categories-of.html