I alternately love and hate this photo.
I love it because it depicts life, brand new sleeping next to seasoned. Both of the dogs in this photo, one a baby and one elderly, are equally precious and cherished. The puppy is all spanking new, curious, and innocent. She has strength and flexibility in her youthful bones that can take a tumble during the course of a good romping play.
The older dog has seen her fair share of heartache, but her life took a turn for the better one very special March day. She is hard of hearing, a little disoriented, and has bowed legs. Her bones are brittle, and special precautions are taken to make sure she won't tumble. She's not so much curious anymore, but still innocent. As a senior, she brings about an easy familiarity; "Old dogs, like old shoes, are comfortable. They might be a bit out of shape and a little worn around the edges, but they fit well."
Looking into her pretty gray face makes your heart clench up a little, wondering how many more days you'll have the opportunity to do so. In actuality, what I hate about the photo is the glaring mortality of it all. I hate the fact that our pets do not live longer, and leave us before we are ready to let them go.
As harsh as an animal's circle of life is, at least we know the reality. Their time on earth is shorter than ours. We don't often have to grasp this concept with our human peers, and today is especially hard with the loss of Ann Marie.
Ann Marie was the foster coordinator for the Roanoke Valley SPCA, and that family is saying goodbye to their beloved friend. I did not know Ann Marie well, but when the media attention hit about the Roanoke Pound, she was the one who reached out to us and tried to make sense of it. I never knew if she was assigned the task or it was a self appointed role, but she extended the olive branch with courage and a willingness to listen. I absolutely do know that she had a wonderful sense of humor, a heart of gold for the animals, and was well respected by all for her kind and gentle manner.
Cancer did not give Ann Marie the chance to get old, and the glaring face of mortality strikes again. It reminds us to cherish each day, and stay close to those that love us. Let's leave the self importance and drama behind, and stay strong and focused for the important things in life.
In Ann Marie's honor, please consider fostering a homeless animal. Karen Crawford started us off when she picked up Sebastian from the Roanoke pound a few days ago. He had been mourning his owners since they left him there, and now it is his turn to take a turn for the better.
While we do our part here on earth, my guess is that Ann Marie will find her place at the Rainbow Bridge, tending to those that were taken from us too soon. The ones that, like her, did not have the chance to grow old. And she'll take care of them with the kind and gentle manner she is so well known for.
May they all rest in peace, and may a part of them live through the very best parts of us.