a dogs life

Being a veterinarian, I had been called to 
examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound 
named Belker. The dog’s owners, Ron, his 
wife, Lisa, and their little boy, Shane, 
were all very attached to Belker and they 
were hoping for a miracle. 
I examined Belker and found he was dying. 
I told the family we couldn’t do anything for 
Belker and offered to perform the euthanasia 
procedure for the old dog in their home. 
As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told 
me they thought it would be good for six-year-
old Shane to observe the procedure. 

They felt as though Shane might learn something
from the experience. The next day, I felt the 
familiar catch in my throat as Belker’s family 
surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, 
petting the old dog for the last time, that 
I wondered if he understood what was going on. 
Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully 
away. The little boy seemed to accept Belker’s
 transition without any difficulty or confusion. 
We sat together for a while after Belker’s death, 
wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal 
lives are shorter than human lives. Shane, 
who had been listening quietly, piped up, 
“I know why.” Startled, we all turned to him. 

What came out of his mouth next stunned me. 
I’d never heard a more comforting explanation. 
He said, “People are born so that they can learn 
how to live a good life — like loving everybody 
all the time and being nice, right?” The six-year-
old continued, “Well, dogs already know how to 
do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.” 

— Author unknown