Many dog-owners were moved by Walnut the Whippet’s last journey across Porth Beach in Newquay. Walnut’s owner, Mark Woods, was accompanied by hundreds of well-wishers as he carried his special pet along the beach, before the frail and elderly dog was put into a ‘final sleep’ at the local vets.
Dogs have had a special relationship with humans for the last 100,000 years. Descended from wolves, early domesticated dogs helped mankind survive by providing sensitive alarm systems and assisting in tracking and killing prey for food; and, in return, they received food and shelter. From that working arrangement a deep bond has built up. Dogs now have enormous sensitivity to our emotions and intentions, and an ability to understand a multitude of words. They bond to us in the same way as babies. They get distressed when we leave them and greet us rapturously on our return. And in return we love them back. Over the course of a dog’s lifetime, a sophisticated emotional relationship is nurtured. The benefits to humans is well documented. We get lower blood pressure, better health, less depression and true companionship. Mark Woods paid tribute to his dog for saving him from a spiral of depression and loneliness.
The loss of a dog is intense and raw. But sadly, it goes with the territory of owning a dog. In life, we know that love and pain are two sides of the same coin. We love the people, (and animals), who are important to us. We care about what they do and what happens to them. It matters a lot to us. This is what gives our life meaning. But, of course, nothing stays the same; and loss is inevitable. Love and pain are inextricably linked. But, would you sacrifice your life of love and meaning in order to avoid pain? Probably not.
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