New Lamps for Old

There is a wonderful sequence in "Aladdin and the Magic Lamp" where Aladdin has won riches, a kingdom, and the love of his princess with the help of a genie who resided inside an old, battered lamp. An evil wizard dresses up as a street vendor and offers new, shiny lamps as a free trade for old ones. Aladdin's princess has no feeling for the old lamp and all it has done, so she hurries out and trades it for the new, improved model. The evil wizard runs off cackling - the power of the lamp is now his. Horrible events ensue until Aladdin is able to get his old lamp back and make the world right again.

An acquaintance called me the other night to talk about the new dream home he and his wife are completing. In their 11 years of marriage, they have celebrated the births of two children, developed careers, and shared the good times and sad times with their small family. Through all of it, a little cocker spaniel named Daisy has been there. She was their first gift to each other and has guarded each of their children's early steps, warned them valiantly of strangers approaching, shared their tears and laughter. Daisy has always been in inside dog, kept within the walls of the home, the heart of the family. Daisy is getting older, has problems withs bladder control, and is losing her teeth. She doesn't want to play with children anymore, preferring to sleep at someone's feet and feel their hands patting her gently. Daisy has turned into the old lamp.

My acquantance alluded to this as he quietly asked me if I would take Daisy. Their new house has carpet, dog accidents stain, and frankly, Daisy smells at times. Daisy would not be happy as an outside dog, it would be too cruel to put her to sleep and my acquantance was "shocked" to learn that turning her over to the local shelter means she would be put down. The old dog had no room waiting in their new house - would I take her so they could get a new younger one for their kids?

New dogs for old - the wizard would be pleased. In a just world, their new house would crumble, they would lose their jobs, the kids would get boils, and their rag-covered forms would crawl the earth looking for Daisy to bring back home. In a just world, Daisy would have the option of trading in the old family for a new one.

I swallowed my pain and tried to educate him, letting him know how Daisy would suffer without her family, how bonded she was to them. He let my words fall off his complacent armor; my pleas fell irrelevant around his expensively shod feet. I suggested doggy diapers, vet visits for medicine, a room at the house with a cool tiled floor and a soft dog bed. I whispered that he could grant her the mercy of going into her final rest in the arms of her family. But nothing touched the part that hurts in him.

So now I have a new dog, her name is Daisy, and the pain fueling her bleeding heart is slowing fading into acceptance. She wets my floors and yes, she smells, but her head feels good on my feet as I write this. And I picture that couple old and alone someday, incontinent, unbathed, and patronized by children who consider the house an asset, the parents a liability, leaving them with strangers at a nursing home.

New lamps for old.

written by Carol M. Chapman
Hitchcock, Texas

"I am Now Called the Rescue Dog"

Whether young or old, I find myself to be, a fine looking German Shepherd.  Once treasured by my owners -- but now, for some reason, of no value.  Respect for me may weave for all a loving plan.  Look at me!  I do gleam with inescapable beauty -- outside and within.  For the time, I'm a lost soul without a forever home.  I do have manners brought forth of charm.  I'm just of one, so eager to be nourished and held.  Look close!  There is, without doubt, something special about me.  You can see it when wagging my tail.  You can feel it whenever you reach down to touch me.  Most of all, you will know when you look into my longing eyes.  Give me one more chance.  Am I for you?  ...I will never leave your side.

2004 (Kathy Sater-Partch)

10 Commandments for Dogs

  • 1. My life is likely to last 10-15 years. Any separation from you will be painful for me. Remember that BEFORE you get me.
  • 2. Give me time to understand what it is you want from me.
  • 3. Place your trust in me, it is crucial to my well-being.
  • 4. Don't be angry at me for long and don't lock me up as punishment. You have your work, entertainment and friends. I have only YOU.
  • 5. Talk to me sometimes. Even if I don't understand your words, I understand your voice.
  • 6. Be aware that however you treat me, I will never forget.
  • 7. Please don't hit me. I can't hit back, but I can bite and scratch and I really don't want to do that.
  • 8. Before you scold me for being uncooperative, obstinate or lazy, ask yourself if something might be bothering me. Perhaps I'm not getting the right foods or I've been out in the sun too long or my heart is getting old and weak!
  • 9. Take care of me when I get old. You will get old, too.
  • 10. Go with me on difficult journeys. NEVER say, "I can't bear to watch," or "Let it happen in my absence." Everything is easier for me if you are there. And always remember, I LOVE YOU! There is nothing so pure and strong as the love of a dog for his Master.

My Master with Love

Here I am, an old German shepherd of great beauty and heart,
I knew I was your puppy right from the start.
Oh look at me in my beautiful shepherds' coat,
Look my master with love, please take note.

My family watched me grow, and taught me much,
And knew they loved me with every touch.
I've made your life special with many good days,
And tried my best to please they did say.

Always loyal and brave spirit to learn,
Life with this family was always my concern.
My truest love is my master, my best friend,
I'll be by your side until our time does end.

A great watchdog in my prime time they say,
I let my family know no bad guys did prey.
When my master at times had to be away,
I waited patiently on those long lonely days.

Loving master gave me this wonderful home,
With love gave me plenty acres to roam.
He even gave me other furry friends to be with,
Not really caring for them was only a myth.

Sharing life with other dogs wasn't fun at first,
But their daily presence truly gave me a burst.
The first time with new dogs, I wasn't so thrilled,
But later my friendship with them was fulfilled.

I loved running fields that graced summer springs,
Favorite place's where I did special things.
My master taught me about retrieving doves,
Making him proud; his eyes showed me love.

No, I wasn't a hunting dog born of that blood,
I'm a German shepherd learning all the above.
Listen, master for I can learn anything we try,
With your encouragement I could even fly.

My family knows now I've grown old and so frail,
My once spirited body shows no happy tail.
I often fall and have help getting back up,
No longer am I that young healthy pup.

Please know when my last day arrives,
Look close; you'll see it in my sad old eyes.
Please stay with me until my last breath is drawn,
This will be our lives' lasting love test never forgotten.

Master love, you've been my whole life,
I've seen you through both happiness and strife.
Without you, I wouldn't have been what I am,
With love from your trusty shepherd, your best friend.

--Kathy Sater-Partch 2010