Tag Archives: a tribute to a loving dog

A dog to hug

When hugging parents isn’t an option

dog photoThe late and loving Sherlock, an Australian cattle dog mix, gave at least two big gifts to Bryce, my nephew, the son of my sister.

First, Sherlock gave Bryce the love of walking. Every day after school, while his parents were still at work, it was Bryce’s job to walk the dog. A chore became a habit. A good habit. Now at college, Bryce keeps it up. He walks for exercise, to clear his mind, to explore, to get somewhere. Walking fills a myriad of needs.

Secondly, Sherlock gave Bryce someone to hug when hugging his parents didn’t cut it. This is one of those gifts that can’t be underestimated. In fact, someone has probably done a study on the matter: “Teenagers who have a dog to hug are less likely to run away.” Maybe I should do this study and make a name for myself.

When Bryce left for college, Sherlock’s health took a turn for the worse. Sherlock was aptly named; he was smart and probably knew that his main calling in life had been fulfilled. In any event, my sister’s family was advised to let him go.

The last night of Sherlock’s life, the family slept together on the floor beside the dog. Sherlock was in pain and could not sleep unless they were all there, literally lying on a thin carpet on the hard floor, on all sides of him. If someone got up to use the bathroom, Sherlock raised his head and wouldn’t lower it until all were close by again.

By “all,” I mean my sister, her husband, and their daughter. Bryce was still at college, a ten hour drive away. My sister grieved that he could not be there. In his absence, she found a framed photo of Bryce to take on their sad trip to the veterinarian.

At the vet’s, they made a circle around Sherlock with a space allotted for Bryce’s photo. Amazingly, lovingly, Sherlock approached each one of them in turn. He kissed (licked for those not accustomed) my sister first. Then he kissed her husband. Then their daughter. And then, without hesitation, though slowly since he was in pain, he turned to Bryce’s photo and gave it a big lick. That is all he could do to say goodbye and it was enough. It was brilliant.

Lastly, Sherlock growled at the vet. It was not a vicious growl, but a knowing one. He knew what had to be done and he wasn’t particularly happy about it. I don’t mean to go over the top here, but his actions can’t help but remind me of Jesus when he asked for the cup to pass him by and yet knew he had to drink it.

But Sherlock is only human…err, I mean canine. And I want to get back to the topic of hugs. Upon a little reading of Dogstar Daily, I learned that dogs are not, by nature, huggers. I suppose this is true because I don’t see dogs hugging each other in the park. But they can learn, if you start hugging them early enough, that it is an affectionate thing for us humans. And in some cases, as in Sherlock’s, the dog will come to enjoy being the recipient of a nice long hug, and everyone is healthier for it.

If Sherlock was just pretending to like the hugs of my nephew, well, I’m even more impressed.