How A “Wisdom Tree” Can Heal A Family’s Heart

Courtesy of:  Juanita

Every time I look out my kitchen window I gaze fondly at my Wisdom tree.  You might be wondering “What’s a Wisdom tree?”   In March 2011 our beautiful orange tabby, Wisdom, was diagnosed with a rectal tumour.  It was surgically removed but after 3 months it reappeared.  Surgery was not an option the second time around.  After 3 months of palliative care, it was time to say goodbye to our Whizzie.  He was 15 years old.

Over the years we have said goodbye to many friends.  Some have passed on their own, others we opted to euthanize to ease their suffering.  Each time we struggled with how to say goodbye.  At Truro Vet Hospital, we encourage owners, if able, to stay with their pet for euthanasia.  A familiar hand and voice can be very comforting.

Many clients choose to bury their pet in the backyard.  We provide several other options for aftercare.  We work with Peaceful Acres, a pet cemetery in Windsor NS, that provides cremation services (privately for return to owner or together with other pets).  Peaceful Acres has a lovely selection of urns to hold your pet’s remains.  There is also a pet cemetery locally.  Thinking about and planning your options now can take some of the stress away when the time arrives.

When we lived in an apartment, we opted for burial at a pet cemetery for our pets.  Over the years cremation became more readily available.  I have a couple of beautiful urns made by my brother-in-law containing ashes.  I have other pets’ ashes that I intended to scatter- I know it would be what is right for them- but I can’t bring myself to let go yet.

When Wisdom’s time came, I knew I wanted something different.  As a family with young children, I wanted the kids to know Whizzie would live on, not only in our hearts, but also in a tree.  So, we dug a deep hole by the fence in our garden, placed his frail body in the hole and planted a pear tree on top.  My 4 year old looked at the tree the other day and said ‘Remember Whizzie?’  My heart ached.  How could I forget him?

‘Yes sweetie, I do’.


The Purpose Of A Dog

Courtesy of:  Amanda

Canines serve many purposes in the lives of humans.  They can be faithful companions or partners in crime.  They are heroic family members or seizure alert dogs.  They can be used as working dogs – to pull heavy sleds, guide the blind, or bring us objects that we drop.  They can warm our laps and our hearts.  Dogs help humans in so many ways that we may never be able to count them all.  What purpose does your dog have in your life?

Personally I have working dogs.  Don’t get me wrong- they are all pets, but if you ask them, they would tell you they are working dogs first and pets as a hobby.  They just let me call them pets to make me happy.

My oldest is a sled dog named Lyle.  He’s 17 and a half years old.  He is a retired lead dog, but please don’t use the word ‘retired’ in front of him.  Lyle has work ethic like no other- as long as he can still walk, he wants to pull a sled.  He is the instinctively intelligent dog in the front of the team that listens for the musher to tell him which way to turn, when to start pulling, and when to take a break.  Many qualities of a stellar lead dog cannot be taught, so he is invaluable in his ability to lead.  He is even required to make judgment calls about keeping all the dogs behind him safe.  In short, I think he’s a genius.

Badly abused in his younger years, he doesn’t trust easily. He has quirky little habits that make people chuckle, and a few battle scars from a tussle with cancer.  When we hike he won’t walk on the left hand side of the trail because he was taught to stay right. He won’t walk in heel position because as the leader he was taught to stay out in front.  He howls his happy song to me when my car pulls in the driveway.  He didn’t know the pleasure in being petted until his later years.  He knows voice commands for everything from “go faster”, to “pass the next trail”.  He smiles when it snows, I swear.  He has a one track mind when in harness- to pull, and pull hard.

There are many people who wouldn’t want a dog like Lyle.  He doesn’t know how to ‘sit’.  He won’t take treats from people.  Ear rubs are only allowed in the first 5 minutes after waking up.  He won’t eat if you are watching him.  He is a sloppy drinker. He has been known to steal meat off the counter.  He rarely wags his tail at people.  He is just now learning to sleep on a dog bed.  He sheds more in one day than most dogs do in a year.  He doesn’t like to be indoors.  He’s foolish.  I can’t imagine life without him.

He believes his purpose in life is to lead. It’s all he is, all he stands for, and all he does.  He exudes confidence and our other dogs instinctively respect him.  He can make a whole team of 10 dogs do things I can only dream of, and he can’t even talk!

Lyle was sent to us, after a life of hardship, to show us that dogs who love to work do it for the sheer joy of it, not because we ask them to.  He has trained many younger dogs, and his love of working (even now) is an inspiration to me daily.  He is proof that the canine spirit is a forgiving one, and that they will always have faith in human-kind.

Lyle is getting older, and just now starting to slow down.  I know we won’t have him with us much longer.  He is almost blind, and starting to lose his hearing.  Though his heart on radiograph looks like that of an 8 year old, he is showing his 17 years.  The thought of not cleaning piles of white dog hair off my floor pains me greatly.  He has taught me so much about patience, understanding, and what truly makes a dog happy.

He has shown me that a life with dogs is about the journey, not the destination.

I can never thank him enough.