Several years ago, when my father was bereft over losing two dogs in less than a year, he swore that he would never, ever, EVER have another dog.  He was simply too sad.

“It’s just too painful to lose them,” he said. “I don’t want to go through this again.” I could hardly blame him. Heidi and Hildi were German Shorthaired Pointers who were my father’s enthusiastic companions on daily hikes in the hills near my parents’ home.  Without them, the hikes had become lonely trudges.

I thought about my dad and his dogs for a long time, and my heart broke to see him so sad. I thought about all the pets I’ve had, both as a child and as and adult, and ruminated on how grateful I am for the grace and joy they’ve brought to me

Most of the time, when we want something, we pay at the time we get it – movie tickets, clothes, dinner out… But with pets it’s different – we pay at the end. The grief we experience is long overdue payback for all those wet kisses, the wagging tails, the rumbling purrs or whuffling sighs.  It is the amount due for adoring looks and joyful abandon when we return home at the end of a long day, or the sweet, calm presence when we’re stricken with sadness or disappointment.

Even knowing the grief we will experience, we are compelled to open our hearts over and over to love.  How could we not? How much poorer we would be if we did not trust our hearts each time to the unconditional love of our four-legged friends!

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