Animal Information

Dogs Allow us to Experience Unconditional Affection

“How will I know
in the thicket ahead
is danger or treasure
when Body my good
bright dog is dead?”
May Swenson

Dog walking on the fieldThe following column is from our hometown newspaper “The Missoulian” from Missoula, Montana. Richard Geary, the author, is a rancher in Helmville, Montana. He can be reached at [email protected] We have enjoyed his writing for many years but this particular one really resonated with my heart.

Perhaps it is because I have chosen to be a Pet Grief Coach and assist those who are on the healing journey. Many people who have never had a close companion and best friend, who wears fur, may not understand the depth of love that has been shared.

Enjoy his writings and reminisce about an animal you have loved and lost in your life. Remember we are always looking for stories to share in Check it out, you will enjoy reading the stories of other animal advocates.


I got into my pickup Friday morning, and it was the first time since 1991 that there wasn’t a dog on the seat anxious to go somewhere. That’s a large void. Many people don’t stay married that long.

The Buddhists say that there is attraction, and there is affection. With attraction a person is concerned more with him- or herself in the relationship, and with affection the person worries more about the other party. Affection is healthier, and that’s what dogs allow us to experience. We don’t get many chances like that with people. Sooner or later we’re going to be disappointed or betrayed by the other, or we’ll be the source of disappointment or betrayal.

These two phenomena might not be permanent, but they’re going to happen, and the memories linger.

Being a confirmed misanthrope, almost every day I’m proved right in my belief. I depended on my dog to fill the emptiness I found in my dealings with most people.
In the 12 years I spent with the dog before this one, there were only two days when he was out of the sound of my voice. With this last dog, I was only away from him a couple times when I was hospitalized from accidents with animals. I knew he was in perfect hands and comfortable, but I worried.

My dogs went everywhere with me. I never left them behind. I took them into retail stores, and if they asked me to take the dog out, I avoided the place after that. My life was built around the dogs’ well being. Neither of them was ever cold at night, and they were never thirsty or hungry.

The trust between us was total and unconditional. My dog’s death a week ago left only three sentient beings whom I trust completely. I hope they trust me in the same non-judgmental manner.

From the rest of humanity, I try to maintain my emotional distance, or at least keep a wary eye on them, knowing that sooner or later something untoward will happen to put a pall on the relationship. I don’t put full responsibility on others, as many times I’m the perpetrator of the schism. My misanthropy extends to myself as well. I’m no different than the people I dislike.

So my world has changed with the passing of the dog. There’s no axis for my life to spin on. He was always my first consideration in everything, as was his father.

If I took a lady to dinner, the dog went with us. During the summer months, I rarely ate at restaurants unless I was sure there was good shade nearby. I always asked that my psychiatric appointments be made for early morning, when it was cool. Everything has been like that since 1991, and I never questioned it.

I’m a sad but free man now. I can do what I want after 25 years of being concerned primarily with my dogs.

The house is horribly empty. Even the cats are morose. I have one cat that preferred the dog’s company to mine, and the day after he died, the cat came in, made a circle in the house, and not finding his dog, left. I haven’t seem him since.

As time passes, I’ll find new freedoms I never realized I had given up due to the dogs. I don’t want another – not because of the inconvenience they bring with them, but because I can’t watch another dog die.

I’m aware of my new liberties already. I’ve suffered from a hernia the size of a gopher for the past 10 years. Foolishly, I never got it repaired because I didn’t want to saddle a good friend with the dog’s care. I learned the art of visceral manipulation and to drink a lot of liquid with my meals, although there were a few times I was close to a trip to the ER until I got my innards reorganized and back in place. I’ll get that taken care of.

Most importantly, I can move back to Brazil, hopefully in late November or early December. I would have gone in 2012, but I knew the dog didn’t have the heart to make the trip, and he probably would have been left sitting on a tropical tarmac to die of dehydration. I didn’t want to risk that.

I still tear up when I get into the empty pickup, and miss him horribly in the mornings. I hear his steps at times and turn, but there are only canine memories left for me. He’s ashes now, as is a big part of my life.

And so it goes.
Richard Geary,
Helmville, Montana

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Most Popular

To Top