DEAR ABBY: I am a 12-year-old girl. My grandfather passed away. Then my rabbit died. On top of that, my cat, "Rocky," was diagnosed with cancer. It spread to all parts of his body. After hearing Rocky cry out in pain at 3 a.m., my family and I made the heart-wrenching decision to have him put to sleep. We took him to the vet, where I stroked his fur and spoke softly to him as he peacefully departed.
My parents stayed behind to speak to the vet, but I couldn't stand seeing Rocky lying on the table, so I walked out to the waiting room, still sobbing. The only other person there was an elderly man with a black Lab. With a foreign accent he asked what was wrong, and I tearfully told him my cat had just been put to sleep.
He handed me a tissue and said, "You made the right choice, dear. You were very unselfish. Just think how your pet would have suffered had you not done this for him."
I asked if he had ever put a pet to sleep, and he nodded. "Many times," he said. "Although it is sad, I think of it as one last act of love." I thought about his words because I had never thought of it like that. "Here," the man said, gesturing to his dog, "sometimes animals can comfort best." I knelt beside his dog, still crying, and the friendly Lab made me smile in spite of my sadness.
Then my parents came out and said it was time to go. I never found out the man's name, but I'd like to thank him for that act of kindness. I'll never forget how he helped me when I was hurting. -- MISSING ROCKY IN MOUNT PROSPECT, ILL.
DEAR MISSING ROCKY: Our guardian angels seem to show up just when we need them most. (I'll bet you didn't expect yours to have an accent and a canine companion.) The following may bring more comfort to you. It's worth remembering.
A DOG'S PRAYER
by Beth Norman Harris
Treat me kindly, my beloved master, for no heart in all the world is more grateful for kindness than the loving heart of mine.
Do not break my spirit with a stick, for though I should lick your hand between the blows, your patience and understanding will more quickly teach me the things you would have me do.
Speak to me often, for your voice is the world's sweetest music, as you must know by the fierce wagging of my tail when your footstep falls upon my waiting ear.
When it is cold and wet, please take me inside, for I am now a domesticated animal, no longer used to bitter elements. And I ask no greater glory than the privilege of sitting at your feet beside the hearth. Though you had no home, I would rather follow you through ice and snow than rest upon the softest pillow in the warmest home in all the land, for you are my god and I am your devoted worshipper.
Keep my pan filled with fresh water, for although I should not reproach you were it dry, I cannot tell you when I suffer thirst. Feed me clean food, that I may stay well, to romp and play and do your bidding, to walk by your side, and stand ready, willing and able to protect you with my life should your life be in danger.
And, beloved master, should the great Master see fit to deprive me of my health or sight, do not turn me away from you. Rather hold me gently in your arms as skilled hands grant me the merciful boon of eternal rest -– and I will leave you knowing with the last breath I drew, my fate was ever safest in your hands.