Over the years, I have consoled many a student in my care when they have lost a pet in their family, but it wasn’t until our own dog, Kobie, passed away last year, that I realized just how much dogs are a cherished part of our lives and our families. I began to think about all the lessons we learn from them and I shared them in a Senior School Assembly.
Having been afraid of dogs from an unfortunate experience as a young child, I had worked over the years to overcome my fears and my ultimate challenge was to own a dog of our own. Little did I know how much this sweet child would teach me.
Kobie came to us from Bear Island, Temagami, so we liked to think of her as Princess Makobe of Bear Island. She was loving, vivacious, my running pal and a friend to all.
Kobie taught us all to be happy when your family arrives home. There is nothing quite like the unconditional love and excitement of a dog when you return at the end of a long day; this was especially true when our daughters would return from university and she would race in circles around the kitchen, yelping with excitement. Secondly, she taught the importance of taking moments to breathe and enjoy life, smell the roses and enjoy the damp of the trail. So many times when we would stop together, I would spot joy in the details such as the damp smell of the earth as it emerges from its winter blanket or the first trilium of the season. When Kobie passed away, our daughters’ friends wrote to us about how they would miss her sitting quietly on the balcony in the morning, taking in the dawn of a new day.
Thirdly, she taught us to always be ready to embrace the adventure, whether it’s trying a new sport, inviting a new friend out for coffee or running through muddy puddles just for the pure fun of it. Kobie loved to be out exploring, meeting new friends and finding the deepest, muddiest puddles to explore. Her heart was wide open to it all.
You are never too old or too cool to hang out with your family-Kobie would race off the boat when we would return to Temagami each summer. She bound up to her sister, who spends her summers at Camp Temagami, and they would race off together to explore the island, hunt for hidden treats and eventually just find a quiet place to be together. It was magical to observe.
Pets know instinctively when a friend may just need you to sit with them, because the morning is so peaceful, or perhaps because life has given you a challenge to overcome. They sit quietly at your side; they sense that you just need them to be there.
We talk so much about honouring our mental health and that is a really positive thing, but animals have always known how to take a ME Day. They spirit themselves away from the crowd and take quiet time when they feel a little overwhelmed, under the weather or tired from the previous day’s activities.
Sadly, we also know that it can be very hard to say goodbye, but we cherish what they have taught us and the wonderful memories we created together; and they help us to prepare for those bigger losses in our family which are a natural part of the circle of life. We know they will always have a cherished space in our hearts and we will giggle together at some of the fond memories of stolen cambozola and turkey legs at Thanksgiving.
Sometimes, when we are ready, we embrace new friends into our family who will teach us new lessons and reward us with unconditional love at the close of the day. Thus, I introduce to you, Evie, Lady Evelyn, who is already guiding us, filling our lives with yet more love, giggles and adventures, and a reminder to put your socks away when the laundry is complete!