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June 08, 2007

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Heart wrenching. According to a close friend of mine who is highly spiritual, pets come into our lives due to some pevious Karma. We owed them something in a prior life and have to pay our dues back to them. According to him ,every life that is in our present life is entwined with us due to our previous Karma, either we owe them or they owe us. Having had a Hindu upbringing I tend to agree with him. I have a female doberman (Jaquie), She was initially given to me by my hubby as a companion when my kids started kindergarten, 10 years ago. she slowly became my son's dog. I am Mom, she obeys me etc. but my son is her soulmate. She is a lamb, and loved by everyone who meets her, but she will kill for my son. I can't fault her for that, that is her job, she is his protector and she will defend him to death. However, if she did attack and hurt someone for no reason I would also have to euthanize her. At that point humans take precedence to animals. Getting back to Kharma, and "My Boy" I suppose the dues were paid in 4 short years and it was Jacks time to leave. Dogs have a way of looking at you, they seem to look right into your soul. Jaqui has an unwavering look that she gives me when she knows I am sad or upset, almost saying I know what you are feeling, talk to me (most times I do talk to her as I would to another person}. Jack probably felt the anguish Jonathan was going through and was trying to console him. I hope this gives some consolation to us pet owners that have to put their pets to sleep or have the pet die suddenly.

One thing that struck me about this story is that the dog, Jack, sat between his master and his vet, wagging his tail, just before he was given the lethal dose of poison. Most of the dogs I've been close to would have sensed something was up. I don't believe that dogs are aware of their own mortality, but they are certainly able to read their people well enough to know that this is not a happy or good situation. My own dog would have been shivering and cowering between my knees in the same circumstance. (Fortunately, we were spared ever having to make such a difficult decision with any of our pets.)

But then, like with people, dogs also vary widely in their intelligence, sensitivity, and ability to empathize.

You made a good point about how deeply pet owners take their pets behavior and well-being to heart, to the point of anthropomorphizing them, as part of the buildup of empathy. It's interesting that a 'voiceless' animal can induce such powerful feelings of empathy even in those humans not particularly well-disposed towards others of their own species.

Just as interspecies bonds in the animal world (dog caring for tiger cubs, cat caring for chicks etc., usually in improbably cutesy Youtube videos) are strange,freaks of nature as we like to think, interspecies interaction has nevertheless been raised to an art form by humans domesticating various forms of wildlife and making them into pets. Of course, some species think it's the other way round.

"The Parrot who owns me" by Joanna Berger is a classic example, where the author, an ornithologist of some repute, details her relationship with an African parrot who behaves as though she is its preferred mate and grew extremely jealous of her SO, to the point of attacking him whenever the bird ( a male) saw him. Perhaps something similar happened in the bonding of Jack with his owner, so that he perceived his owner's wife as a threat of some kind and attacked her.

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