When people say that dog owners who refer to their pets as though they were speaking of children are silly, they are unaware of how a dog can affect the life and outlook of that person, especially late middle age people who have had actual children and are now in the empty nest stage.
Muffin was a very special dog much loved by me. I am a person who has doubts about whether or not an animal is capable of love. I have always believed that in order to love, a creature has to have the ability to conceptualize love since love is a concept about a feeling within. Dogs certainly act as though they love us and they even sometimes risk their lives to save us from danger; so maybe they are capable of loving us. But whether they love us or not, the fact remains that we love them, and for many reasons that any good dog owner knows.
I love being a dog owner if for no other reason than that my parents refused to let me have a dog when I was a kid, and I did ask them several times if I could have one. They said that dogs were for nonJews, that Jews just were not dog owners. As an adult, as a religiously observant person, a rabbi once expressed a similar sentiment to me. Of course that is nonsense. There is no such thing as non-Jewish dog. Dogs are just dogs, and some of them are more agreeable than some people I have known.
I have had several dogs in my life and they lived to a reasonable age before passing away. But Muffin passed away untimely at the age of 6, after a downhill battle with leukemia. And that makes it doubly sad for me.
The Bible tells us that when God created all the animals, He asked Adam to give them names. God created creatures but His creations were basically meaningless. They only took on meaning when man named them. So God brought all the animals before Adam and asked, "What is this creature's name?" When he brought the dog before Adam, and asked for its name, Adam replied, "Its name is KELEV [Hebrew for 'dog']. When God asked Adam why he gave that name to the dog, Adam replied, "Because this creature is KeLEV, He is like the heart, 'LEV' in Hebrew. Just as the heart is faithful to beat, so is this dog faithful to be a companion to me."
God told Moses, "If meat is TREYF [not Kosher], do not throw it away -but give it to the dogs." Exodus 22:31. Why is that? The TALMUD says that is their reward for faithfulness to the children of Israel when they were about to escape from Egypt.
"And there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there was none like it, nor shall be like it any more. But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue." Exodus 11:6, 7
About the verse above, our rabbis tell us that dogs can hear things we cannot. But they can also see things we cannot. They can see angels. When the Angel of Death came down to slay the firstborn of Egypt, the dogs of the Egyptians saw him but they did not bark to warn their masters, they did not move their tongues against Israel.
I am sure that there are many other things I could relate about dogs but I think you get the picture. The loss of a dog, a good dog, is like the loss of any family member, and Muffin was VERY family.
Muffin passed away today, August 3, 2005. Her ashes will be buried outside Judy's home at Fire Island. If Muffin was able to love, she loved being at the beach.
King Solomon wrote: "I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts. For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?" Ecclesiastes 3:18-21
Muffin's spirit is with us wherever she is. I miss her very much.