All animals deserve love, care

By Clyde Davis: Local Columnist

She was lovable, but not trainable, the factor that proved to be her downfall in the end.

Of the five or six canine friends I’ve had, she was the only one who would not respond to any of the tricks that shape obedience.

This, then, is her eulogy, because last Sunday, there was a bicycle, an SUV and the usual refusal on the part of the dog to listen or come back when called.

The first command I try to teach my dogs is stop. Kassady never got it.

So Kassady chased the bike, the SUV came past, and the next thing I knew, I was holding the dog in my lap while she took her quick journey to meet the Big Wolf In The Sky, or however canines conceptualize the divine. There was no pain, or only split-second.

Our other dog feels grief, there is no doubt. She sat by the pine box I built for Kassady, and would not leave until I placed the box in the ground. She walks around now looking for someone to boss around as she liked to do with Kassady.

This morning was the first time she has raised her tail or “smiled” all week, and that, only briefly. As I told someone this week, there is no way you could convince me that they don’t have souls.

We all mourn in different ways.

It has always been a point of honor with me that when an animal friend dies — cat, dog, bird or reptile— I build a small pine box and bury it. (Luckily I have never owned a horse.)

Some grieve silently, some grieve noisily, and some — I guess this fits me — grieve by trying to make sure the departed is taken care of.

The skeptical would believe that we invest too much in our animals, and if too much refers to steak for dinner, little sweaters for animals already gifted with fur, or a diamond-studded collar, then I would tend to agree.

To me, a dog deserves the dignity of a leather collar, a food dish of its own with dog food, not prime rib, and a pillow or a rug to sleep on.

Too much does not mean, however, too much love, too much training — even if the dog is untrainable — or too much forgiveness, since like us they make mistakes.

Kassady came from the pound almost three years ago, and after a year and a half teaching her not to wee-wee in the house, it was abundantly clear why she’d gone to the pound. It is hard to be angry at a pet, though, who is trying to wiggle into your arms while you are reprimanding.

Ten or so years ago, I rented a training video by the Monks of New Skete, a monastic order whose way of self-support is to train canines.

The training methods are excellent and I believe would work with almost any dog.

Unfortunately, Kassady was the exception.

Perhaps for some animals, the best we can do is provide them a safe place.

I will miss you, my little friend.