A well-deserved tantrum

Gary MacDougall
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MacDougall family’s faithful pet Bogey

Pets wiggle their way into our hearts; losing them is like losing a valuable member of the family

I had a temper tantrum a few days ago. You know, the kind where you mentally lash out at what you perceive as the unfairness and injustice of the world and what’s happening around you - “you” being the key.

All of a sudden you’re a 10-year-old and someone has stuck a pin in your birthday balloon, broken your favourite toy or kicked aside your carefully constructed sand castle.

But looking back on Jan. 26 of this year and my little tantrum, for once I don’t feel guilty about it.

On the scale of matters of human importance, the reason for my being upset would rank low. It didn’t involve resettling Syrian refugees, helping stock food bank shelves or working for world peace. It involved me getting emotionally upset - on a scale of 1 to 10, I would say a 10 - at the loss of a dog, my family’s beloved miniature Schnauzer, whose name was Bogey.

The death of a pet unleashes a roller-coaster ride of emotions. That fact in itself is upsetting, since taking the death of a pet so seriously can seem selfish when you look around and see the suffering others are going through.

For example, there’s the family of 14-year-old Conor Shea in West Prince after his tragic death in a recent snowmobile crash. Or, on the other end of the Island in Pinette, eight-year-old Callum Thompson who was recently diagnosed with APL leukemia and will be spending the next several months in treatment in Halifax.

My heart, and the hearts of all Islanders, is hurting for these two families.

In the case of Bogey, he lived a life of privilege in loving surroundings and died at age 15 1/2. So, it’s not like Bogey was cut down in his prime defending the family’s honour. Rather, he lived a good life and was loved by all those who knew him, especially his very loving master, my wife.

And my angst wasn’t just over the fact he had to be “put to sleep” and I was on hand to watch. My family knew Bogey had reached the end of the line and his quality of life was suffering.

Bogey wasn’t our first dog; we have been down this road before. Everyone knows the day you take a pet into your care that Father Time starts to tick. And it ticks faster for our pets than for us - that’s a fact of life.

The facts of life, at least in our current plane of existence, are undeniable and have upset me of late. As I looked at Bogey the last few months, sometimes I found myself quietly raging against the natural order of things, which is that everything, and everyone, has their time.

Why can’t I have another chat with my mother or some other loved one? Why can’t I walk into the Pig ’n’ Whistle and shoot the breeze with some of the old boys again? Why must our pets have such shorter lives than us? The list goes on.

But whenever I start down that dark self-pitying path, I always come to my senses. I realize that the world doesn’t revolve around me - it’s the other way around.

Rather than being someone who has been hard done by, who is somehow cheated, I am a person who is incredibly fortunate. I have known and felt the love and support of family and friends and the love and support of four-legged creatures like Bogey.

In his case, he offered unconditional love and loyalty to my family for as long as he could, and for that I must be thankful.

- Gary MacDougall is a retired P.E.I. journalist. He can be reached at peiivorytower@gmail.com

Geographic location: West Prince, Pinette, Halifax

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