Good Afternoon Fan Friends,
In the Broadway Musical ‘Wicked‘,made famous by Kristen Chenoweth and Idina Menzel as Glinda the Good and Elphaba the Wicked Witch of the West, the song ‘For Good’ is a powerful and poignant song which highlights that despite the urgency of both iconic characters needing to go their separate ways they had been changed “for good” just by knowing each other. Chenoweth famously begins the tune:
“I’ve heard it said, that people come into our lives for a reason. Bringing something we must learn. And we are led to those, who help us most to grow if we let them. And we help them in return. Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true, but I know I’m who I am today because I knew you.”-Wicked
While Glinda isn’t so sure of her belief in fate she does acknowledge that the time she spent learning and growing beside her friend significantly impacted her for the better. This leads me to ask: Where’s the line between the people who change our lives for the better and family pets who are like people that change our lives and hearts for good?
The biggest line between our human companions and our furry ones is that humans are all flawed. Human nature is to disappoint or fall short of expectations and sometimes hurt sometimes without ever meaning to. It’s as the age old saying goes:
To err is human, to forgive divine. All people commit sins and make mistakes. God forgives them, and people are acting in a godlike (divine) way when they forgive-Alexander Pope
Furry companions do this and more for us. They love us humans even when we fall short of perfection. They love us: unconditionally, completely and Christlike. They forgive us without question, even when we’re short sighted and short tempered, but above all they love us. They love us completely even when we’re hard to love and that is why their lifespans are significantly shorter than our own.
Our canine and feline companions are born with that hard wired ability to be loving, merciful and compassionate. Who but the family furry friend will share in our daily life: the joys, the excitements, the sadness and disappointments? Most human beings spend their entire life learning through blessings and lessons how to get closer to God by being selfless, loyal, loving and compassionate but our furry friends and family members already know how to do these things. Jesus calls us all to “love one another as I have loved you” but it’s animals that have mastered that particular skill not the humans who were given dominion over them. Ironic, isn’t it?
Many a woman and man have said, ‘I hope to be half the person my (dog/cat) thinks I am.’ I think that is because although they live significantly shorter lives than ours, while they are here they make us want to be better people. I believe sincerely that people who say, “it’s just a dog” or “it’s just a cat” need that type of love from us the most. Throughout my 12 year relationship (4 of which I spent married) with my husband, we have been told when we expressed our desire to raise dogs over children that we, “don’t know unconditional love until you know the love you’ll hold for your child” to this I usually smile, sheepishly and say, “Have you ever known the love of a dog? Because God spelt backwards is Dog and that unconditional love they have in their hearts of us is the closest thing we’ll get to Christ on Earth.”
I’ve read about tragedies in the paper of children growing up to kill their parents and sometimes parents who kill their children but I’ve never read about a dog who killed their owner. I have read about dogs who got put down for protecting their owners. These stories get me crying every time. There’s only one person who loves us at our worst and would lay down their lives for us other than our fur angels and his name is Jesus Christ.
We can stand to learn a lot from the furry companions we open our homes and hearts to if we just: Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly.
Teaching preschool for 9 1/2 years I imagine the world would be much different if our school teachers were dogs. You’d learn valuable lessons like:
▪️Always running to greet your loved ones when they get home.
▪️Never passing up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
▪️Allowing the experience of fresh air, long walks and the wind in your face to be pure Ecstasy.
▪️Stretching before rising.
▪️Running, romping, and playing daily.
▪️Thriving on attention and affection.
▪️Avoiding biting when a simple growl will do.
▪️On warm days, stopping to lie on your back on the grass.
▪️On hot days, drinking lots of water and laying under a shady tree.
▪️When you’re happy, dancing around and wag your entire body.
▪️Delighting in the simple of being around those you love.
▪️Never pretending to be something you’re not.
▪️Knowing that if what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
▪️When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.
That’s the secret of happiness that we can learn from a good dog-which is why when I got the heart wrenching text from my Father yesterday evening that they were making the difficult decision to put down our furry family member for the last nearly 13 years-I crumbled to the floor and ugly cried until no more tears could fall.
My husband and I (with my Parents’ blessing) drove that 30 minute drive to my family home where I grew up and said goodbye to a dog who’d given me the kind of love, loyalty and devotion I could only hope I repaid in even a fraction of the same way. For that entire drive, her whole 12 1/2 years of life flashed before my eyes: memories of the crying puppy that I fell asleep on a cold tile floor to snuggle, a playful adolescent who would play fetch, snuggle on the couch, and comfort me through all of life’s beautiful and dark moments and finally even the old senior who although tired still managed to trot up to the door to give me attention and love.
Before I left last night, I didn’t say goodbye. I said I’ll see you soon, because time in heaven works differently than here on Earth. I’m confident she’ll be able to plead my case and get me into heaven one day, when my work here is done to be reunited with her for eternity.
This morning, it was with a very heavy heart that my family and I announced that our beloved Chloe Dawn Hackett died peacefully, alongside her family of nearly 13 years. On this day, Friday, May 22nd 2020, under the care of the Ocean County Veterinary Hospital staff, heaven gained an exceptionally beautiful, loving, furry angel.
Chloe was brought into this world October 31st 2007 and became a valued member of our family in January of 2008, she quickly became our daughter, little sister and ultimately a dog legends are made of. Chloe arrived in our home with the ability to make herself completely comfortable by playfully tormenting her big fur brother Chase. Having the energy of an F5 tornado and barking ferociously at any animal or person that intruded on her turf, Chloe quickly began building loving relationships with all those who came in contact with her, whether it be family or friends. She was loving, loyal, and wouldn’t hesitate to yell at me whenever I had to leave home for long periods of time. She was the first to greet and the last to see me off.
A lover of dog beds and stuffed animals, Chloe had many hobbies. Some of Chloe’s favorite activities included barking at things not there, cuddling alongside you, comforting you when you were happy or sad, playing tug of war and fetch, and trying to figure out who exactly was “the good girl.” In her spare time, Chloe dreamt violently, thrashing her legs, presumably chasing those asshole squirrels who dared enter her dreams. The quickest way to Chloe’s heart was with a quality scratch of her rear, and a shake of her paw.
Chloe Dawn will be greatly missed by many, but none more so than her loving family. Through thick and thin, we loved her with all our hearts, and though the pain we’re feeling without her here is great, it in no way would compare to having never had her in our lives. Chloe Dawn leaves behind her lovingly devoted Mom and Dad, Liz and Joe Hackett, an older sister, Brittany Schmidt (Hackett), a Brother in Law Thomas Schmidt, and a big brother who held her in his arms until the very end Joseph Hackett; predeceased by her Grammy, Mary Doyle; her big fur brothers Petie and Chase; Uncles Tommy and Jimbo; and many amazing family members and friends throughout the years.
While it well may be, that I will never see my Chloe girl again in this lifetime, it needs to be said that so much of me is made of what I learned from her and she’ll be with me like a paw print on my heart. All the pain, the sorrow and profound sense of loss is worth it because, much like most parents can say for their children, I can honestly say: you just don’t know the depth of true unconditional love until you’ve shared your home, bed, snack and heart with a dog or cat.
This post was shared and written in memory of Chloe Dawn Hackett:
“Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon her.
May she rest in peace.