“If you have a higher calling, you are going to do something that is more noble or more beneficial to mankind that either you are doing now or what you could have done.” www.italki.com
Author Jon Katz, and his wife, Maria Wulf have written about finding a job, a more involved life, for her pony Chloe, Portrait of Love-Understanding Animals. Not that Chloe doesn’t have a great home: pastures, plenty of food and daily grooming, treats and hugs. She is definitely not neglected. Is this is enough for her pony?
While driving through pouring rain to my attorney’s office recently I thought about Maria and what a completely unselfish thing she is contemplating. If I were lucky enough to have a pony to touch and look at outside my window every day would I think about just me or about the ultimate welfare of the pony? Is a life of simply “being” enough for any animal or even for us humans? There is no right or wrong answer. It is an individual decision we must all ponder.
The attorney and I had discussed finding a Border Collie for her uncle. But this time without even thinking, I heard myself say, “What about my dog, Catcher?” Did I really want to give up my beautiful five year old black and white Border Collie? What was I thinking?
Catcher has one genetically dysplastic hip which, as a result, has pretty much ended his career as an obedience show dog. As much as he loves people and riding in my car, now he is boarded when I show my other dogs. It hasn’t been a bad life. He loves Juanita at the kennels. But otherwise he lives a pretty boring life. Occasionally I’ll do some advanced obedience exercises with him, with the jumps at a very low height. He does a fantastic job because at this point it’s all parlor games and treats and fun for both of us. But sometimes I wonder if this is enough for him. Am I being selfish?
Catcher’s show picture was exchanged via email between my attorney and her uncle. He called me to make an appointment to meet my dog.
How did I feel knowing I am giving up my dog? The best answer came to mind. I feel excited for Catcher. He is extremely intelligent, a wily coyote type of dog, mischievous when bored, willing, sweet, loves people and other dogs and cats. He also can be a handful, jumping up on people when excited, in spite of my training. Was he too much dog for someone around my age?
Rarely do I let Catcher greet people at the front door without holding him. He gets so darn excited. But when the Uncle walked in the two quickly became friends. He had no fear of the dog nor was there any hesitation from Catcher. The Uncle and I sat down at my kitchen table and talked about life and former dogs and my expectations, while Catcher let himself be petted nonstop. Someone had finally come into the house to see and visit and spoil Catcher. He was beyond happy, until it all became too much and he snoozed at our feet while we talked.
Catcher is still owned by me and co-owned by the breeder. In my mind he is providing a higher calling as a companion and protector. He will get daily walks, rides in the car, and trips to the beach. I assured the Uncle that Catcher can always come back to me when the Uncle is out of town on business and of course if he changes his mind and wants to return Catcher.
But you know how it feels when something is right? There was a feeling that these two beings were meant to be together and that my purpose all along was to train Catcher for this moment. Am I sad? Yes, but I won’t lose a dog. I’ll hand over my leash to someone who will return love to my dog twofold.
In Maria’s case, I’m sure she will know if it’s right for Chloe to remain with her or go to someone who can provide a higher calling to her pony. It’s the most unselfish thing we can do for our animals, to give the animal a purpose, a job, a reason for living while ensuring happiness and well-being for the animal.