It’s My Turn

I was on Facebook this morning and noticed an interesting topic for discussion on a service dog group of sorts I’m a part of. I guess a woman had made a statement regarding how her service dog had done amazing things for her and now it was her turn to help him. It got me thinking about Phoenix and all he’s had to go through over the past 5 years with his allergies, ongoing ear issues, age related arthritis, deafness and then his recent episode with Idiopathic Vestibular Disease. A friend once asked me how I could spend so much on keeping Phoenix, when it would be easier to just let him go. At the time I didn’t know how to respond, I guess I was in shock at the question, but here’s my answer now.

Well, he’s not suffering, he’s happy and overall healthy and now it’s my turn to be there for him.

Phoenix was with me when my mom passed away. He was there for me during my final year of high school. Then he attended the University of Guelph with me and never once complained about having to wake up early, stay up late and guide me through all sorts of weather. Phoenix was there for me when I couldn’t find work after completing my degree and never once complained when all I wanted to do was relax and watch some television. Then about eight months before he retired I had surgery on my right palm to remove a precancerous spot and he was there to greet me with Huib when I woke up in recovery. Phoenix has never refused to help me when I’ve asked and has always tried to be with me when I’m sad. He was there during the rough times in my life and during times of change. When he retired he took to his new job of protecting the house and greeted me at the door every time I came home. Phoenix is loyal, he’s full of life and I couldn’t even imagine turning my back on him now that he needs me.

I may have to help him up and down the stairs to go outside. I may have to clean up a turd he dropped on his way to the bedroom. I may have to go out of my way to prepare his meals. And I may have to spend a little more time and money to keep him well, but it’s all worth it. Phoenix is 14, but he’s still eager to live life and help when possible.

I couldn’t imagine life without Phoenix and will do anything to help, because he does the same for me.

“The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” – Mahatma Gandhi


  1. I just had to comment on this. This is just how I felt about Gadget. He saw me through hell and back.

    He was everything to me — my hands, my legs, my voice; my best friend and roommate and family; my pupil and my teacher; my partner in everything and everywhere I went.

    Some people in my life found it extraordinary the lengths that I went to to give him the longest and best quality of life I could. But I found it extraordinary that anyone could question it.

    He gave me everything, and as much as it was in my power to give him back, that’s what I did. I still feel great pain that I wasn’t able to save him, but the last six months we had together, while sometimes very hard, were also very special.

    Nursing a dog through old age is special, too. I did that with my first service dog, Jersey, who lived to be 13.5. She gave me her all, too, and I regret that I wasn’t able to do more for her before I realized she was at the end.

    I’m very glad you have this time, though it is difficult, sometimes exhausting or disgusting, I know. Still, there is something beautiful in being a caretaker for those we love, and those who have given so much to us.

    Thank you for writing this post.

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