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Life Lessons from a Poodle

Lessons from the life of a little doggie.

It has been said that we live in the information age. Most people have more access to more information–fact, fiction, reality, opinion…–than ever before. Simultaneously we live in an age where the quality of primary and secondary education has deteriorated steadily. More and more people spend more and more time in cyberspace than in reality. Virtual relationships and virtual networks and virtual games and virtually everything else has been encoded, programmed and is on the Internet. Not to mention of course several hundred television channels and the old-timers, newspapers and radio. Amidst this electronic JavaScripted virtual reality where, how, and when do we actually learn about life. Not information. Not facts. Life.

Our 14-year-old, 5 pound toy poodle died abruptly a few weeks ago. A ruptured gallbladder, acute peritonitis and sepsis and a painful decision to let him go to sleep with grace. After being severely mauled three years ago by a vicious “rescue” Golden retriever let loose on the streets by a lazy, indifferent slug of a person, he was critically injured and underwent enormous surgery with a slow, tedious and painful recovery. It took a lot out of him.

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Hershey had been in the family for more than half of all of our three adult children's lives. I think he taught them more than they learned collectively in school, college, Hebrew school and the synagogue. Certainly much more than they learned or ever will on the web.

What did Hershey teach them as he grew from a frisky puppy to a graying sage with cataracts, diminished hearing and a limp from arthritis. Well, he taught them just about everything they really need to know. He taught them about life. He taught them about loyalty. He taught them about trust. He taught them about fun. He taught them about unconditional love. He taught them about tolerance. He taught them about devotion. He taught them about growing old. And, finally, he taught them about death.

E-l malei rachamim,
shochayn bam'romim,
ham-tzay m'nucha n'chona
al kanfay Hash'china.....

Rest peacefully little friend.

Jory F. Goodman, M.D., is a practicing psychiatrist in Beverly Hills, with more than thirty years of clinical experience.

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