Jeff Kahler: Reflecting on the unconditional love our companions give us

I suspect for many of you that this time of year is a bit hectic. I know for me that is indeed the case. It seems there is so much to do during the holidays: decorating the house (I’m still not done), shopping (I need to start!), planning for gatherings, cooking, and the list goes on.

With all there is to do I must always remind myself to take some time to reflect on all the true blessings I have in my life, and there are many I know I share with you.

One of these blessings is my work. I cannot imagine a better job than the one I have working with people and their companions. The human-animal bond is one of the greatest gifts we have in our lives and to be able to work in an environment that displays these special relationships is, to me, priceless.

Can you imagine how wonderful it is to be able to help bring an ailing animal back to health? To be able to be part of something that brings such happiness to the people that deeply love these special members of their families is without compare, and I am so thankful.

Not all the times are joyous when working with our companions, as you might imagine. Sometimes, we are unable to restore a patient’s health. There are times when a decision must be made to let a companion go, but even in those tragic times, I am reminded of how tremendous the relationships we have with our companions can be.

There is no more unselfish act of true love than to make the choice to end our companion’s life, to sever a bond as great as any, knowing in your heart that it is best for the animal. And to be part of this ultimate expression is yet another special part of being a veterinarian.

In the past, I was forced to make that very decision, to let my dog, Al, go, and I must say, it was the most difficult decision I have ever made. Having been involved in so many similar situations with clients and their companions, I thought I would be prepared – I was not.

Just like those of you who have made this decision for your companions, I agonized. Knowing all along what I needed to do, I finally looked my dog in the eyes, gave him an injection, and then, as the tears clouded my eyes, I kissed him goodbye on my porch.

Even now it is as vivid a memory as I have.

So to those of you who continue to share your lives and love with your special companions, take a moment during these busy times to reflect and remember that true demonstration of unconditional love right there beside you.

And for those of us who have lost our great friends, let’s take the time to reflect on all that our companions meant to us and all the priceless memories we have because of them.

Merry Christmas to all, and as I speak for me and my colleagues, thank you for sharing your companions and your relationships with them.

Now, about that shopping …

Jeff Kahler is a veterinarian in Modesto. Questions can be submitted to Your Pet in care of LifeStyles, The Modesto Bee, P.O. Box 5256, Modesto 95352.