I never thought I’d see Dean again, or at least for quite a while. I’d diagnosed osteosarcoma bone cancer in his beloved bloodhound’s leg about a month ago, and after we said goodbye to her, he floated off in a sea of tears. I’m always touched by a man who feels comfortable sharing emotion while dealing with life’s difficult decisions. Dean had carried some of his own medical issues, and had lost an eye on that journey. So I was so very happy to see his face when I entered the exam room last Tuesday, embracing a new dog. He shared his story.
“Doc, you know I was pretty tore up about ol’ Dolly. I swore I could never get another dog again. It just hurts so much when you have to say goodbye.”
I nodded because I know that feeling well. Clearly I didn’t need to share my wisdom about love and loss.
“Dolly had been such a good friend to me, through such tough times, the surgery and everything. She just seemed to know when I needed someone to hug.”
“The good years we shared, and the unconditional love she showed me, that was so much bigger than my pain when I had to put her down.”
“I woke up one morning with a big ol’ smile on my face, and I went down to the shelter. I told them I wanted to adopt an old dog, one that was sweet, but would probably never get adopted, because they weren’t cute.”
“When she saw me, she ran over to the front of the cage, jumped up and down, turned around and around, and whined and barked, like the army guy returning home from deployment, and his dog sees him and does all this; it was like it was Dolly, so glad to see me again.”
“The family who walked into the shelter when I did, saw all the commotion, and changed their mind. They didn’t want a puppy anymore. They asked to see an older dog too”
My “brother” Dean had adopted this dog on what was to be her last day. She was to be euthanized at 5:00. This dog appeared to be “nothing special.” She was 8 years old, Dolly’s age, and just a plain, regular, old dog. She was not a cute puppy. This dog would never have been adopted.
Indeed, she had been saved. Likely a mutual arrangement.
I could see my technician looking at me, knowing how I loved stories like this. I realized that I hadn’t said anything in minutes, and was smiling from ear to ear. I reached out my hand. “Dean, you’re my hero today. Thanks for ending my day like this. Thanks for being you.” I left the room doing the Snoopy “happy dance.”
People don’t suck. I am truly humbled by people on days like these. People are awesome, and this is just another example of why we were put here.
So what makes a good day anyway? The bank teller or bagger at the grocery story says, “Have a good day.”
What, exactly, does that mean?
I’ve always told my children that a day is completely wasted if we haven’t learned something, positively influenced someone, or been positively influenced by someone. These things truly change the world.
Think of this. Such a simple action. Such an act of love. We have no idea how many people we touch every day. Clearly, this dog’s life was impacted, but what about us? What about the family next to Dean who decided to get a different, likely un-adoptable, older dog. What about the shelter girl, who cried as she wrote up the paperwork? How did she know this dog likes to chase tennis balls?
What about my employees, and the ten other clients in my waiting room. What about those reading this blog post? When we think no one else is looking, the entire world probably is.
What about the man looking at Dean in the mirror at the end of the day? What about someone else, looking down and smiling. Our actions always matter.
Yes, this was a good day.