I'm not really an animal person. Don't get me wrong, I don't hate them either. It's just that not everyone is a cat person, ...

I'm not really an animal person. Don't get me wrong, I don't hate them either. It's just that not everyone is a cat person, or a dog person, that's all. This is a story about someone who is related to me. I'm not trying to discriminate anyone. I am merely sharing my thoughts and feelings after what I saw and heard, so please do not judge.

Dog's a man's best friend, but to what extend?

Phil's children work in the big city, which is about an hour and a half drive away and he has a dog named Mike. Perhaps it's because his children are not living together with him, Phil seeks companionship in Mike. Phil never liked/is always reluctant to visit anyone, including his own children, or go anywhere. The reasons given are always: Mike will refuse to eat when I'm not there, Mike might get bullied or fight with the other dogs in my sister's place (This never happened coz Mike was bigger than the meek shih tzus at the sis' place, the bro-in-law, being a dog-lover, dotes Mike too and always made sure it is comfortable at his place), Mike is afraid of thunder/rain, Mike is afraid of fireworks etc. Yes, it's always about the dog. Though his wife, May, and children have always asked Phil to go to the big city to visit, go on family trips, sightsee or try some new food instead of just sleeping and watching TV at home the whole day, everyday, the answer is almost always NO. Even if they manage to persuade him, he would show anger/lose his temper and demand May or the son to send him back almost immediately once he hears that Mike skipped a meal... even when everyone else was enjoying a good family time.

Whenever Mike was sick, Phil would be so worried and loses his appetite too, even more so than his own children. <I will not go into that but I must say that May did an amazing job in raising her kids, mostly on her own> Whenever the family is back to visit, Phil would always bring Mike out to have its breakfast before the rest of the family. Mike doesn't eat dog food coz Phil says that it doesn't like the tasteless dog food and feeds it with whatever Phil & the family eat. Mike's favorite breakfast is wonton noodles and Milo. During lunch and dinner when everything is served, everyone is seated and getting ready to eat, he would take the food and feed Mike first. Mike, on the other hand, would get jealous whenever Phil's children are back to visit. There were a few incidents like peeing on one of the family member's shoes and peeing on the mattress when one of Phil's sons forgot to close the bedroom door - All on purpose, to show its dissatisfaction.  

When Phil's oldest son got married, the wedding ceremony was held in the big city as most relatives, friends and colleagues, including the bride's side of the family were mainly there. Phil, as usual, was reluctant to go, but he went, after much persuasion from his wife and children. But he requested to leave the next day after the wedding. Same thing happened during the second son's wedding but I guess he had no choice coz it would seem unfair for the second son since he attended the first one. This time, he demanded to bring Mike along, but then hated the fact that the dog was asked to stay outside the house. Lets face it, some people would rather not come home to fur all over the couch or on the floor. Needless to say, it was a short stay. When his first grandchild was born, everyone was thrilled, all except Phil, it would seem. May was excited to visit but Phil simply refused, so she went alone with her sis. Whenever his son and family went back, May would ask Mike to stay outside the house (due to hygiene, lice and fur problem since there's a young baby around). Obviously, Mike didn't like that and stayed in Phil's room most of the time. Time went by... And his second grandchild was born. It was Chinese New Year, so May and her sis volunteered to help out with the confinement as it is hard to get a Confinement Lady (Also, the price is doubled to hire one) during this festive season. Phil had no choice but to celebrate CNY in the big city that year since everyone else was there. During that few days he was there, one night, his sis called and said Mike ran away from her house to try to get home, and got lost somewhere in the middle. Her husband worried that Phil would be upset, went out to search for it in the rain, and found it in the restaurant that they frequently visit. Upon hearing that, Phil demanded another relative to send him back the following morning. Ever since that incident, whenever there's any celebration, outing or family trip that May asked the children to plan and bring him, he would downright refuse (even when the trip is booked and paid), go but then throw temper and demand to go home almost immediately (Yes, Phil isn't independent enough or refuse to learn how to travel back by himself). Though his grandchildren went back to visit, he would still continue to do the same things with Mike.

A week ago, Mike died of old age. It was heartbreaking, of course. Few days later, Phil started telling May negative things like he doesn't have anything to look forward and that he has no regrets. May was devastated and told her children. His words were a despair of them.#

*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals and bits of the contents have been altered to cut the story short.

A lot of questions came into my mind after hearing and seeing this. I assume that it's because Mike died in that house, Phil dwells on the negatives when he recalls the memories that Mike and him shared every time he looks at it. Perhaps it's because he has not been doing much - no hobbies, no interests other that sleeping and watching TV, so Mike's death became a lil too much for him to bear? Maybe it would be a good idea for him to leave the place for a short while so he could recover from the grief and maybe find something to look forward to? Does his family not mean anything? Does he not look forward to seeing his grandchildren grow up? Is it fair for anyone to blame that his grandchildren are not close to their grandpa? <Well, it takes two to tango. I believe that all relationships require work on both sides to make it happen> Is it right to humanize one's pet, and to what extend is considered acceptable? 

It's not like Phil has gotten some terminal disease so he's losing the hope to live. Well, I've seen quite a few cases of people getting terminal diseases or involved in major accidents in my family, close friends and their families. A few just gave up coz they didn't wanna be a burden to their families but most fought with all their might. Among those who fought, some made it and some lost their battles, but at least they did try their best, up til the end, for themselves and for their loved ones. Isn't life something precious that's worth fighting for? 

Perhaps it's because I'm not really an animal lover and I've never own a pet before... I can't put myself in his shoes or imagine what's going on in his head. Honestly, I find giving up on oneself or losing the will to live just because a pet died, without considering the feelings of rest of the family, unacceptable. I may be wrong in saying that and I do hope that pet owners out there to share your thoughts with me regarding this...

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