Care with your whole heart - a life lesson from my dog

December 6, 2020
Holly the Collie Dog
end of life planning
anticipate life
supporting others
Leanne Russell

Deciding to get a dog

I had just moved back to Perth from Karratha with my son, Dylan. We bought a house, a car, furniture, TV, computer, white goods…everything you needed to outfit a small house. The only thing missing – a dog.

I had always had a dog to care for. Growing up, I had Kip the Corgi, then Dusty the Blue Heeler. When I left home, there was Jessie the German Shepherd (the most intelligent dog ever!) and Sam the Collie (the most ditzy). But now, I just wasn’t sure about having a dog. They are a lot of responsibility; there’s the extra costs, the care they need and they “tie” you down…I almost had myself convinced.

Finding Holly

One weekend, reading through the paper, I came upon an advert for Rough Collie pups (like Lassie), pure bred but no papers…and just down the road (well, maybe a little further). I spent hours playing with the puppies - the best fun I had had on a weekend for a while (sad but true). Two puppies – a hard decision…so I left it up to them. Finished with playing, she chose me by laying down, head on my feet and that’s how Holly became part of our family.

Holly was the most laid back pup you would ever meet. She was so chilled out that one friend described her as having “flat batteries”. She grew into a beautiful dog, calm and loving. And everyone loved her. All the adopted strays loved her and she cared for all of them. We loved her.

We were devastated when the tragic news came that she had bone cancer. I will never forget the look of gratitude in her eyes as we held her as she slipped into a painless sleep that would last forever. The grief I felt at her passing was intense, and although it seems less so now, years later, thinking of her still brings tears to my eyes and a tightness in my throat.

My goal in life is to become as wonderful as my dog thinks I am.

I am reminded of a story about a little boy who explained why dogs don’t live as long as people. “People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life — like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?” He continued, “Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay for as long as we do.” Even with their passing, our animals leave us with invaluable lessons.  

Lessons to be learned

Holly was a beautiful natured dog, gracious and graceful. She knew how to enjoy simple things; a slow walk in the park, sunsets at the beach, a quick dip in the ocean, sharing a ride in the car and expressed enjoyment of life with her whole body. She sang out her happiness. She was tolerant and adaptable and loyal. Faithful and true, she brought us laughter and taught us to love generously and care with your whole heart. To be kind to everyone.

Planning for your pet’s care

Our animals are special to us, which is why we included Pets as a section in Anticipate Life. We want to make sure their care is in the way they are used to and no-one knows that better than you. They feel grief too and a change to their routine will add to their distress. Providing details about your beloved pet, will reduce the anxiety you feel for their future care. Isn’t this one of the lessons they teach us - how to care?