My friend and former teacher Donna Pauley writes movingly of the death of her Beloved Fat Dog, Chaucer:
I have been the unofficial pet namer at our house over the years. Being an English teacher, literary names have abounded: Shakespeare, Desdemona, Odysseus, Biddy. Chaucer, of course, was named after my favorite English poet, author of The Canterbury Tales. He grew into his name and became the alpha male in our menagerie. He liked a quiet, peaceful home and growled at the cats any time they got into a spat. He did the same with us if we ever raised our voices. He raised all of our kittens over the years, putting each one in his bed, holding it between his big paws, and licking it until it was soaking wet with dog slobber.
He was catered to and spoiled over the ensuing years. Christmas stockings, birthday parties, fancy collars, lots of attention. Chaucer paid us back a hundredfold with unconditional love and devotion. Anytime I was feeling blue, I put him in my lap and whispered my woes to him. He looked at me with his soulful brown eyes, and I knew, without a doubt in this world, that he was feeling my pain. (I should have named that dog Bill Clinton.) Then he laid his head on my chest and pushed against my chin with his nose. When somebody loves you that much, you can’t stay sad.
Read the whole thing. I’m finding this is one of the things that gives humans greatness, that makes them image-bearers: our ability to love and invest and pour ourselves into those beneath us – even those of other species. C. S. Lewis once wrote that our love for our pets was a first step in the reclamation of creation, and that creatures actually become more human, in a sense, the more we love them.
Someone should tell that to these people. [Warning: cute puppies, sad story].