According to Oxford, empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Some of you are probably thinking that empathy is reserved for humans. I thought so too and was quite excited to be embarking (no pun intended but that’s kinda funny) on a new adventure in humanness.
But when I read about the nature of empathy, I realized that I feel this regularly, every time one of my people is upset, or sad, or hurt. It’s written in my canine DNA to go to the aid of my humans when they are in trouble. They’ve even done studies on the topic, including this one entitled “Dogs feel empathy for human suffering.”
The good news for me in this discovery is that human-ness and canine-ness may not be as far apart as I thought.
What got me thinking about empathy is my week of spending time in Logan’s world, the world of veterinarians and medications and restrictions. I’ve been a very healthy guy—an easy keeper they call me. I’ll eat pretty much anything that’s put in front of me without issue or repercussions (often finding my own snacks), I’m happy with a short walk but always up for a long one, I sleep through the night and am usually the last one out of bed in the morning.
This past week I had to take painkillers that made my stomach feel a bit off, my walks were a good length but limited to on-leash, and I had to sleep with a life preserver around my neck. I know, I know, small potatoes compared to what Logan dealt with his last year. I realize my experience was just a taste of what he went through.
Don’t get me wrong, Logan wouldn’t have had it any other way. Some dogs may have opted for an early exit rather than have their activities continually curtailed and spend every second week in a vet’s office, but that wasn’t Logan. He was a fighter, with a zest for life that carried him through his health trials with spunk and dignity.
My time in Logan’s world is almost up, at least for now. I’m spending less time in the life preserver and my stitches come out on Monday. After that it’s all systems go, life returns to normal.
If the lump they removed from my leg had been a malignant fibrosarcoma, I’d be telling a different story, but, hooray!, my easy keeper streak continues. The lab tests confirmed it was just a benign fibroma. I’m in the clear!
I’ll wrap up my thoughts on empathy with some words I’m going to try to live by:
“If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” – Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird