The below tribute appeared in an Ann Landersí Column in the mid-1990ís. It was written by Charles B. Wells, Jr., Palmyra, NY

DOGS DON'T HAVE SOULS, DO THEY?

I remember bringing you home. You were so small and cuddly with your tiny paws and soft fur. You bounced around the room with eyes flashing and ears flopping. Once in a while, you'd let out a little yelp just to let me know this was your territory.

Making a mess of the house and chewing on everything in sight became a passion and when I scolded you, you just put your head down and looked up at me with those innocent eyes as if to say: "I'm sorry, but I'll do it again as soon as you're not watching."

As you got older, you protected me by looking out the window and barking at everyone who walked by. When I had a tough day at work, you would be waiting for me with your tail wagging just to say, "Welcome home. I missed you." You never had a bad day and I could always count on you to be there for me.

When I sat down to read the paper and watch TV, you would hop on my lap looking for attention. You never asked for anything more than to have me pat your head so you could go to sleep with your head over my leg.

As you got older, you moved around more slowly. Then one day, old age finally took its toll, and you couldn't stand on those wobbly legs anymore. I knelt down and patted you lying there, trying to make you young again. You just looked up at me as if to say you were old and tired and that after all these years of not asking for anything, you had to ask me to do one last favor.

With tears in my eyes, I drove you one last time to the vet. One last time you were lying next to me. For some strange reason you were able to stand up in the animal hospital - perhaps it was your sense of pride.

As the vet led you away, you stopped for an instant, turned your head and looked at me as if to say: "Thank you for taking care of me."

I thought, "No - thank YOU for taking care of ME."

 

Ann replied:Dear Charles:What a beautiful tribute.Every person who has loved a pet will be deeply moved by what you have written.There is a moral here that should not be overlooked.When your faithful pet becomes old and sick, and life is no longer fun, but rather a painful burden, do your friend one last kindness.Relieve him or her of the misery.It is the last great act of compassion you can perform.