Contributed by Nicholas Pediaditakis, MD, DLFAPA
There is joy to be had in maintaining a pet. Whether it is a dog, a guinea pig, or even a super intelligent, pot-bellied, dwarf, Vietnamese pig — which competes in intelligence with the smartest breeds of dogs like the Border Collie. Pets keep us company. They remind us that we are part of a vast web of life on this earth.
Studies have shown that people retain their natural gladness of being alive better in the company of their pets. Generally, their blood pressure is much more normal, and they maintain a sense of proportion in their relationships with the other family members.
Because of a rich library of alternative genes in their genome, (i.e., coding for the same body part), we were able through selective breeding to end up with many breeds; from the fist tamed Wolf and Jackal we started with, to hundreds of breeds of dogs — from the Saint Bernard full of feelings and drooling saliva, to a keen, hyper-intense Doberman. Any of them can bring joy.
Myself, I always had a Samoyed, which is a family dog bred specifically by the Samoyed tribe in Siberia. They were living with these dogs as a family member for thousands of years. My Samoyed, Isabella has been with me for 12 years. She is available, eager, affectionate, keen to accommodate my wants, and eager to have joyous interaction and play.
I believe strongly that she “knows” that she is alive with some degree of conscious awareness as well a moral code. She talks to me — with vocalizations, expressing wants, gladness, joy, boredom, or desire to go out for her own body’s needs. She is totally dedicated to me and to the rest of my family clan.
A pet like Isabella distracts you from being self-absorbed, helps you to have a sense of proportion, a gladness of being alive, shares, cements, and reinforces the bonding between your family members.
Unfortunately, there is a downside in having a beloved pet: as they become a family member, bonded and treasured, they eventually die before their master because their lifespan is shorter. We grieve, just like losing a family member.
Isabella’s mate, who was named Sam, died a few years ago and the grief was felt by the entire family.
Here is a poem I wrote, expressing my loss at this pet, a family member:
Requiem for Sam, a Samoyed
He jumped the fences of our Tribe’s heart from the start.
And there he stayed the years- a faithful chronicler of our happenings and unfoldings-
his white body a moving shimmering Igloo in the northern light.
Yesterday, as the allotment for his kind came up, he died in his sleep, dreaming of the Tundra.
Now, his mate, keeping her head down, whimpers the hours in wake.
Maybe to-night, way up in the Taiga, his brother still there will howl for a while, staring at the midnight sun.
They say they always know.
Today our clan is diminished by one.
We still remember him like a family member long gone.
Copyright © 2015 by Nicholas Pediaditakis, MD