Carpe Diem with Your Four-Legged Friend

Leslie Phelan on why we should be grateful and always carry treats

By Leslie Phelan

Photo credit: Nathan Congleton/CC

It happens, from time to time, even though you try not to think about it at all, or ever. You know it will happen eventually. You do your best to keep it in the unknowable and (hopefully) distant future.

Unfortunately, and I say that lightly because I know nature has her reasons, the life span of a human is far longer than that of our beloved animals. Part of falling in love with a pet is knowing that one day, unless you are the proud pet parent of a Galapagos tortoise, you will probably outlive your pet.

Caring for a pet, paying vet bills, carrying big awkward food bags home – these are the parts we expect. In the rosy days of perfect health and with so much life still ahead, it’s easy to adjust to the idea of a cycle of existence where death is as much a part of life as birth, but like all things, nature inevitably run its course and our pets must leave us.


Ask any pet lover to catalogue the chapters of their life and they will count by the blocks of time marked by their furry companions. Yet no matter how much time we’ve had to prepare ourselves, and no matter how realistic we think we are, it always comes too soon. If it catches us off guard, it makes us question the fairness of it all, as if there was a way to quantify what we deserve to get out of life, or how many years counts as a ‘good’ life for our little friends.

So all we can really do is to love them while we have them, and treasure each day with them like a divine gift. Today may not be the greatest day you’ve ever had, but to the ones you come home to, who love you unwaveringly and unconditionally and are perfect in their faith and affection, it is a day as magical as any day ever could be, and should be enjoyed as such.

So don’t think about it, just savor the time you have. And never forget to honor the creature that has spent their time on this planet at your feet, as if they came here just to hang with little old you. Be grateful. Carry jerky. Accept kisses.