“When God created the world, He invested in man the power to elevate the divine sparks or souls that are found throughout creation. It is for this reason that in general, the way an animal’s soul is elevated and returned after its death to its divine source is through its positive and spiritual interactions with man.” — Rabbi Yehuda Shurpin
It’s our responsibility to elevate our pets, although sometimes I think they elevate us. Like when I’m upset and my dog looks at me with that face that says, “Easy does it, pal. Go chase a ball. You’ll feel better.”
My wife and I have a dog named Glendi. She’s about 12 or 13 years old. Glendi was a gift straight from God. My wife had been talking to me about getting a Teacup Yorkshire Terrier. She had two as a child and always wanted another.
So, one evening 10 years ago, we were dropping off something on our friend’s doorstep on Glenville Drive. Running around was a filthy, ratty, cold and wet animal (our friends weren’t home). Our gift from God had been delivered. When I first saw this thing, I really wasn’t sure what it was. Whatever it was, it was a real mess.
My wife was in the car. I said, “Come quick.” She ran over and saw I was holding what turned out to be a 2 1/2-pound Teacup Yorkie that we eventually named Glendi, after the street we found her on.
The next day we took Glendi to our vet. She wasn’t microchipped. We advertised and looked in newspapers and online. Nothing. The vet said she was in good health except for a slightly messed up back left leg and some bad teeth. I wish I got a report that good from my doctor.
“Glendi turned out to be the sweetest, most loving and dumbest dog on the planet.”
Glendi turned out to be the sweetest, most loving and dumbest dog on the planet. After 10 years, she still doesn’t understand the command “sit.” Now that I think about it, my boys also took about 10 years to learn to sit. So I guess it runs in the family.
We once hired a dog trainer and, to quote him, “Glendi is not the brightest star in the sky.” Most dogs enjoy playing ball or running around. Not Glendi. She lies in bed and stares at us. She’s also a painfully slow walker. In fact, we don’t walk her; we take her out for a drag. She can sleep 18 hours a day and still be game for another nap. Adult Yorkies have 42 teeth. Glendi has six scattered about her mouth. We love her and she loves us.
After 10 years of pretty robust health, Glendi got sick. Her kidneys might be failing. She was hospitalized for four days, and we visited her every day. It was like visiting any relative; we brought her brisket and chicken. The only thing we didn’t bring her was the daily newspaper. Her doctor said, “It’s wait and see.” We prayed she’d bounce back but if not, we vowed to make sure she never has to suffer.
I’ve learned a lot from her. I’ve learned it’s important to give a hearty hello when someone you love returns home; to snuggle next to someone you love; to eat your meals with gusto; to enjoy what you have and not to complain about what you don’t have.
Years ago when we had to put down our first dog, Star, the vet asked me if I wanted to come into the room when he gave Star the injection. I didn’t go in. It seemed too painful to me. To this day, I regret not going in. I wish mine was the last face Star saw when she closed her eyes for the last time.
If the day comes that we have to put Glendi to rest, I’m going in. I’ll be standing right there, petting her head, holding her paw, telling her not to be afraid, and that I love her until she draws her last breath. Then I’ll kiss her goodbye.
But the good news is that she’s OK today. So, until that day comes, as Moses said, “We choose life.”
Mark Schiff is a comedian, actor and writer.