Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

There comes a time in every boy’s life when he must decide between taking the old dog to the veterinarian, or taking him back behind the woodshed.  No matter which he chooses, there is pain; pain in watching the ol’ boy suffer, or pain in ending his life.  And perhaps most painful of all is the simple inability to know which is “right”.  If he takes the dog to the vet, will he get better and enjoy many more happy years, or is it merely prolonging the suffering and the inevitable?  If he chooses one, the sorrow in his heart will constantly force him to wonder if he should have chosen the other from the start.

But what of a young pup?  A pup new to the world, suddenly stricken with a grave illness before he has barely learned to walk?  Here, a second conundrum.  The pup has experienced nothing of the wide world around it, neither the joys nor the sorrows.  The boy has not had the time to get close to his faithful hound and become inseparable from him.  Simply put, the pup has not truly “lived” yet, though he be alive, and now he is already almost dead.  Like all pups his life shows vast potential, but like all pups it is too early to know whether he will grow to live up to it; too early to know whether it is worth the effort to save him.  Should the effort be made, or should he be written off as a lost cause?

Let it be known that dogs are not like humans.  Dogs can be companions, but not friends.  They have heart, but no soul.  They do not think like a man does, and they do not love like a man does; ultimately, the bond between man and dog is more for the comfort of the man than it is for the dog.  And while they should not be treated as one might treat some inanimate object, tossing them in the bin without a second thought once broken, neither should they be treated like a child, spending time and money, life and limb for its sake.  They are a joy to have and to hold, but dogs were created to serve men, not men to serve dogs.  In all things a man must be practical.  If a dog becomes a burden to a man, a burden greater than the benefit its life gives to him, the dog should be let go.  There is a time for emotion, and there is a time for reason, and the life of one dog is simply not worth spending the majority of one’s time on the former.

Is it heartless to kill a sick pup and replace him with another like him?  That answer depends on why a man wants the pup in the first place.  If the man wishes for a companion around the house, just a friendly face to pat on the head, then by all means, save the pup.  If a man has the conviction and strength of will to suffer through this adversity, and the pup survives, the bond shared between these two will be all the greater in the future.  But what if the man desires a hunting dog, a guard dog, or a seeing eye dog?  Here the dog is more than a casual companion; he is put to work to serve a greater purpose.  The man relies upon the dog and puts his trust in it.  If a sick pup will never grow strong enough to achieve that purpose, of what use is it?  The man will set this pup aside and find another that will serve him better, for this is what he seeks.


{One of my friends asked my advice about whether to continue a dubious project he was working on, versus giving up and starting a new project.  I felt compelled to write this in response.}


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