I can’t tell you how appreciative I am of your kind comments following Part 1 of my tribute to Pickles last week!
Soon after joining you here at the DW, I wrote about the challenges of losing a companion animal. And it is now that I am sharing some of my personal thoughts on the very special Ms. Pickles, who appears in my bio photo with me.
I hope you find part 2 equally helpful. Be sure to also check out some clips of Pickles and me when we hosted the Save-a-Pet show, interviewing such adoption supporters as Drew Barrymore, Dick Van Patten, the late, great Rue McClanahan and others.
A Deeper Understanding
So as I reflect on Pickles life and how she came in to mine, I am aware that on that fateful Friday in 2000, when I received the email about a “Chihuahua to die Monday”, I did not say, “I don’t have the space or time…” I said, “I will make the space and time.’
And it is when we make this space, both literally and figuratively, that our world opens up in ways we could never have imagined. Each time we make such choices we continue to become who we are meant to become.
We never know the outcome of such choices but the important part is that we make them and not remain rigidly attached to things or ideas that limit us in our ability to give and receive love. The same goes for new ideas and beliefs. They may serve us for a time but it is maintaining a degree of openness to change and expansion that can bring about the most profound and gratifying shifts in our respective lives. We need not set up house with them right away but at least invite them in for 'a cup of tea' and then decide.
So pickles came in for 'a cup of tea' of sorts, and what followed was a shared life that I would not trade for anything in the world. She made me a better person. She made children and adults smile. She made people aware of what treasures exist, young and old, in each and every shelter, in each and every city, each and every minute, of each and every day.
People say she was so lucky to have had me. And while I know this to be true, I feel deeply that it is I who have been lucky. She gave me the chance to actually become more of who I am. And that is what our little creatures do for us in any ways. They allow us to experience our ability to make a positive impact. They introduce us to the ways in which we can be flexible and creative; to expand our lives or alter our routines to include the very ingredients of a life well lived.
We become defined by our commitment to these fellow souls. We pick our housing, our jobs, our schedules and some even choose their own partners around them.
For some, an even deeper understanding and kindness is born of the connection they see between their own companion animal and the millions of other animals who reside in city shelters and share this earth. It is what we see reflected in little faces like that of Pickles that plants the seeds of a greater humanity. A humanity that I know for me has come to define who I am. And I am grateful.
For children and adults alike, many find the only solace they know in the gaze of their furry best friends. We learn about the sanctity of life overall, not just that of the human animal. And my hope is that we can each hang on to those early instincts that refute what the world will ultimately try to teach us about other species; That they are somehow of less value, less worthy of experiencing joy and protection from suffering.
I cannot imagine my life without my little girl. I feel like I’m missing my touchstone and unsure how to proceed. But at the same time I feel calm and grateful, as I know she made a positive impact on all who got to experience her freckly little ways. And she is at peace. A feeling all animals should get to have, both during their time on earth and once they have passed on.
Pickles was my ever present little companion. She was my partner in crime. My equal. Really more than my equal but I like to think we had a fair amount in common. Sounds a bit grandiose, but I saw myself in her in many ways. Small. Scrappy. A little disheveled. Cute but not pretty in a traditional sense. Well-meaning feisty little souls. Quirky and unaware of how awkward we can be at times.
I sit and reflect on what I, and others, can take away from knowing my little friend. I guess it’s that we can really only be who we are. And that to love the imperfect in ourselves and in others is as genuine a love as there is. We need not be perfect- or some societal version of perfect. We simply need to be ourselves, and love is born from there; The kind of love that does not allow ‘imperfections’ to lead it off course but is in fact strengthened by these very anomalies; A love that celebrates the under bite, freckly feet and low growl in each and every one of us.
And so my beautiful little Pic, I bid you farewell.
Rest in peace my amazing little girl…
I will love you always and I’m so proud to have been your mama.
Thank you for sharing your life with me.
Dr. Pia Salk