One year ago, my dog Ella died. She was a sweet, mischievous, expressive little pug, whose hoarse bark a friend once likened to a broken garbage disposal.
I began volunteering at the pug rescue, from which I had adopted Ella. The backstories of the dogs read like a Debbie Downer routine from SNL—elderly, blind, diabetic, abused. (My wife, who reluctantly tagged along once and only once, dubbed it the Island of Misfit Pugs.) But I felt sustained by the very existence of this place—the relentless optimism and abiding hope that I saw in the people who keep it going.
A few months in, I fell for a sassy 12-year-old pug named Midge and decided to adopt her. When I shared the news, I was met with a variety of incredulous reactions, from my wife’s genuine concern for my well-being, to a stranger at a holiday party who gasped, “But she’s just going to die!”
Mostly, people asked why? Why would you knowingly enter into an emotional attachment that’s likely to end in sadness so soon? It’s a divisive question, one that forces us to consider the relative value of love and hope. To me, it’s worth it. As renowned pug enthusiast W.B. Yeats said, “Man is in love, and loves what vanishes; what more is there to say?”
What have you learned from brief loves?