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 Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year- old  
 Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog's owners, Ron, his wife,  
 Lisa, and their little boy, Shane, were all very attached to Belker 
and they were hoping for a miracle.

 I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the  
 family there were no miracles left for Belker, and offered to  
 perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home. As  
 we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be  
 good for the four-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They  
 felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.

 The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker's  
 family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog  
 for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going 
 on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away. The  
 little boy seemed to accept Belker's transition without any  
 difficulty or confusion.

 We sat together for a while after Belker's death, wondering aloud  
 about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives.  
 Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, "I know why."

 Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next  
 stunned me. I'd never heard a more comforting explanation.

 He said, "People are born so that they can learn how to live a good
 life -- like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?"  
 The four-year-old continued, "Well, dogs already know how to do  
 that, so they don't have to stay as long."

 Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply, Speak kindly.





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