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When I was a puppy, I entertained you with my antics and made you laugh. You called me your child, and
despite a number of chewed shoes and a couple of murdered throw pillows, I became your best friend.
Whenever I was "bad", you'd shake your finger at me and ask "how could you?" But then you'd relent, and
roll me over for a belly rub. My housebreaking took a little longer than expected, because you were terribly
busy, but we worked on that together. I remember those nights of nuzzling you in bed and listening to your
confidences and secret dreams, and I believed that life could not be anymore perfect. We went for long
walks and runs in the park, car rides, stops for ice cream (I only got the cone because "ice cream is bad for
dogs," you said), and I took long naps in the sun waiting for you to come home at the end of the day.

Gradually, you began spending more time at work and on your career, and more time searching for a human
mate. I waited for you patiently, comforted you through heartbreaks and disappointments, never chided you
about bad decisions, and romped with glee at your homecomings, and when you fell in love. She, now your
wife, is not a "dog person" still I welcomed her into our home, tried to show her affection, and obeyed her. I
was happy because you were happy. Then the human babies came along and I shared your excitement. I
was fascinated by their pinkness, how they smelled, and I wanted to mother them too. Only she and you
worried that I might hurt them, and I spent most of my time banished to another room, or to a dog crate. Oh,
how I wanted to love them, but I became a "prisoner of love". As they began to grow, I became their friend.
They clung to my fur and pulled themselves up on wobbly legs, poked fingers in my eyes, investigated my
ears, and gave me kisses on my nose. I loved everything about them and their touch-- because your touch
was now so infrequent - and I would have defended them with my life if need be. I would sneak into their
beds and listen to their worries and secret dreams, and together we waited for the sound of your car in the
driveway. There had been a time, when others asked you if you had a dog, that you produced a photo of me
from your wallet and told them stories about me. These past few years, you just answered "yes" and
changed the subject. I had gone from being "your dog" to "just a dog," and you resented every expenditure
on my behalf.

Now, you have a new career opportunity in another city, and you and they will be moving to an apartment
that does not allow pets. You've made the right decision for your "family," but there was a time when I was
your only family. I was excited about the car ride until we arrived at the animal shelter. It smelled of dogs and
cats, of fear, of hopelessness. You filled out the paperwork and said "I know you will find a good home for
her." They shrugged and gave you a pained look. They understood the realities facing a middle-aged dog,
even one with "papers." You had to prise your son's fingers loose from my collar as he screamed "No Daddy!
Please don't let them take my dog!" And I worried for him, and what lessons you had just taught him about
friendship and loyalty, about love and responsibility, and about respect for all life. You gave me a good-bye
pat on the head, avoided my eyes, and politely refused to take my collar and leash with you. You had a
deadline to meet and now I have one, too. After you left, the two nice ladies said you probably knew about
your upcoming move months ago and made no attempt to find me another good home. They shook their
heads and asked "How could you?"

They are as attentive to us here in the shelter as their busy schedules allow. They feed us, of course, but I
lost my appetite days ago. At first, whenever anyone passed my pen, I rushed to the front, hoping it was you,
that you had changed your mind -- that this was all a bad dream...or I hoped it would at least be someone
who cared, anyone who might save me. When I realised I could not compete with the frolicking for attention
of happy puppies, oblivious to their own fate. I retreated to a far corner and waited. I heard her footsteps as
she came for me at the end of the day, and I padded along the aisle after her to a separate room. A blissfully
quiet room. She placed me on the table and rubbed my ears, and told me not to worry. My heart pounded in
anticipation of what was to come, but there was also a sense of relief. The prisoner of love had run out of
days. As is my nature, I was more concerned about her. The burden which she bears weighs heavily on her,
and I know that, the same way I knew your every mood. She gently placed a tourniquet around my foreleg as
a tear ran down her cheek. I licked her hand in the same way I used to comfort you so many years ago. She
expertly slid the hypodermic needle into my vein. As I felt the sting and the cool liquid coursing through my
body, I lay down sleepily, looked into her kind eyes and murmured "How could you?" Perhaps because she
understood my dog-speak, she said "I'm so sorry." She hugged me, and hurriedly explained that it was her
job to make sure I went to a better place, where I wouldn't be ignored or abused or abandoned, or have to
fend for myself -- a place of love and light so very different from this earthly place. And with my last bit of
energy, I tried to convey to her with a thump of my tail that my "How could you?" was not directed at her.

It was you, My Beloved Master, I was thinking of. I will think of you and wait for you forever. May everyone in
your life continue to show you so much loyalty.

THE END.
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A note from the author: Jim Wills, 2001 -- If "How Could You?" brought tears to your eyes as you read it, as
it did to mine as I wrote it, It is because it is the composite story of the millions of formerly owned pets who
die every year in Animal Shelters around the world. Anyone is welcome to distribute the essay for a
noncommercial purpose, as long as it is properly attributed. Please use it to help educate, on your
websites, in your newsletters, on animal shelters and Vet office bulletin boards. Tell the public that the
decision to add a pet to the family is an important one for life, that animals deserve our love and sensible
care, that finding another appropriate home for your animal is your responsibility and any local humane
society or animal welfare league can offer you good advice, and that all life is precious. Please do your part
to stop the killing, and encourage all spay and neuter campaigns in order to prevent unwanted animals.
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How Could You?
This is beautifully written by Jim Wills.  If should bring tears to your eyes.  It did mine.