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Family Pet Animal Care by Michael Trapani


Family Pet Animal Care - January 2016

by Dr. Michael Trapani

Auld Lang Syne

“Should auld acquaintance be forgot,  And never brought to mind? 

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,  And auld lang syne!” 

It is that time of year again; the time when we stop to remember friends, some of whom are no longer with us, and reflect upon the things we’ve done, and perhaps the things we ought to have done, that we might begin this New Year with a clean ledger.

Robert Burns’ 1788 poem uses the term “auld lang syne” to mean, “days gone by” or perhaps, for “the sake of old times.” I think that looking back is a fine and valuable exercise. Unfortunately, it too often comes with regret as we consider all the things that we might have done differently. Hindsight brings with it a clarity that is anything but comfortable, and regret clings to us forever.

“If hindsight were foresight,” I often remind myself, “we would all be lottery winners sipping  mai tais in Jamaica.” Glib and flippant as this may sound, there is a certain truth in it, and indeed, a kernel of hope: What we need to do is look back and suffer our regrets BEFORE we make the decisions that we’re certain to regret later!

Predictive hindsight isn’t a difficult skill to acquire. Much of what will happen in life is perfectly predictable based upon our own choices. For example, if I am driving down the road and the oil light goes on in my car, I can choose to pull over OR I can choose to pull over later, when the engine burns up. If I take a moment NOW to visit the future, I can exercise predictive hindsight to avoid the regret I will certainly feel later when I am paying for a new engine. I will leave it to the quantum physicists to argue over whether CAUSE must necessarily precede EFFECT.  However, in most cases, it is CHOICE, not CAUSE, that precedes EFFECT. Using predictive hindsight to foresee the effect of my choices makes it possible for me to CHANGE THE FUTURE!  The past? Well… not so much.

I don’t want to look back at the past and think about what I might have done, or done differently, or done better, particularly when feeling regret over the loss of my pet. I don’t want to find myself thinking of the good old days when she used to chase the ball or sit on my lap and purr. I don’t want to see my pet from the corner of my eye when she’s no longer there with me. I don’t want to remember her when singing Auld Lang Syne!

But, I can change the future, can’t I? I will look back at what might have been before it happens! My cat’s oil light is on! His teeth are a mess and I know that most cats die of kidney failure and bad teeth are the leading cause of renal degeneration. I’m going to pull over and deal with the problem right now! I am not going to wait until his little kitty engine is trashed and it’s too late for me to make a difference!

But what if I don’t know what to do? Well, dang! I’m not going to let that stop me! I’m going to find someone, someone I can trust, someone who is trained to understand my pet’s problem and help me make my best choices, someone who will help me find out if the oil light is on, even before I can see it. Because, let’s face it, my dog or cat will have to be pretty bad before they tell me themselves. Now, who could that someone be?

I am going to seek hands-on professional advice, and if I am unsure or if my questions are not answered, I am going to seek a second opinion! But most of all, more than anything, I am going to be pro-active and never, ever put off dealing with my pet’s problem!

Because their lives are all too short as it is, and I will lose them too, too soon, even though they live for twenty years. But when they go, I shall have loss, but not regret.

“For auld lang syne, my dear, For auld lang syne. 

We\'ll take a cup o\' kindness yet, For auld lang syne.”