The compassion and empathy I learned from the ABC POM Bureau’s resident Great Dane

GDI woke up this morning  to a random thought that came to my  mind. Although, if you are spiritual in a sense, then you will argue that no thought is random.

What popped into my mind was the image of a handsome large Great Dane  that used to live at the ABC Port Moresby Bureau where I spent  few years working.

I forget his name. It will come to me  later.

Great Danes are big dogs and  have relatively short lives of 8-10 years.  So the big fella was fairly old  and despite his arthritic joints, he always played like a puppy whenever the PNG Correspondent,  Steve Marshall, challenged him to a tug-of-war or any other game concocted in a minute’s notice.

It so happened that Steve’s term was ending and he had to leave.  The the big old Dane still had the playful spirit in him. But he was nearing the end of his days.  Sometimes he would pop over to the office on four increasingly wobbly legs.  I guess to ‘have a chat’  the dog way.  I spent time talking to him. I knew he understood everything I said to him.

One morning,  we were all drawn to his sad,  mournful howling  behind  the office. The gardener and caretaker, tried feeding him but he wouldn’t eat.  We all came out to see the big fella.

Kave, the driver/cameraman and Cornelia   in admin… we all  went out to see him.  Cornelia said that he was in pain.  I went back to work and then came out again, after everyone left, him to talk to him.

His eyes  were most stunning. It told his story and his many experiences.  A lot of it, humans like me would never understand.  I sat with him outside scratching his ears and his head. It gave him some comfort and he stopped  howling in his pain.

Then,  in what felt like the right thing to do,  I said to him: “It’s ok. It’s alright.  You can go now.  You don’t have to live with this pain. You can go to sleep now.”

I spent a few more minutes and then went into the office.   Minutes later, Cornelia came  to let us all know that the big fella had died.   I have felt sadness for  animals but this felt like I had lost  an old soul I had come to know.

In a few months, this big fella  taught me compassion and determination.  He showed  how people and dogs seek the same comfort and understanding from each other in their times of need.

Dogs are incredibly awesome and special!