Today I had to take Boomer to the vet for her annual shots.  As I sat in the waiting room a couple came in carrying a small dog. It looked like some kind of wire-haired terrier, small, white, with some black markings.  I never talk to people in the vet’s office unless it is clear that they have a healthy pet who is there for a wellness visit. I talk to puppy owners, mainly.  People with sick pets don’t want to talk to you. They only want to talk to the vet.

I had to wait for the results of Boomer’s heartworm test which takes about 10 minutes, so I put Boomer in the car (because she is kind of a pain in the ass) and returned to the waiting room.  All of a sudden it became clear that the couple with the little wire-haired dog was there to put their dog to sleep.

The vet tech started to explain the procedure to them, then left to ready the room.  The man began to cry and wipe tears away. The woman put her nose into the dog’s fur and wept. I began weeping too.  Soon they were asked to bring the dog into an exam room, and the door shut shut behind them.

Boomer’s heartworm test came back negative. As I gave the receptionist my credit card, I couldn’t see to sign the receipt because I was crying so hard.

Buddhists say that one of the main causes of suffering is attachment.  If we could just understand that everything is impermanent, our joys and as well as our sorrows, then we would be free from pain and suffering.

When we get our new puppy, we are so happy.  But when we have to put that same dog to sleep, we weep into its fur, and feel the most heart-wrenching pain imaginable.

Today I realized that I am not a very good Buddhist. I am VERY MUCH attached to the things that I love, and as a result I am in for a whole world of hurt.  I even suffer when I see the pain of other people because I realize that that will be my fate some day.

Psychologists call this “empathy” and it’s touted as a good thing.

But it hurts like a mother.

2 thoughts on “Empathy

  1. Hi! Visiting from NaBloPoMo. I like your blog (nice design too!) and feel resonance with your perspective. I see your daughter lives in Portland – I grew up in Eugene and just got back from a family visit. I invite you over to my blog, if you have a chance!


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