My email this morning includes one from a friend. It’s the story of a veterinarian called to the home of a wolfhound dying of cancer, to put the dog to sleep.
The dog’s owners wanted their 4-year-old son to be with them as their pet was sent ahead, in order that he learn from the experience.
Afterwards, the vet and the couple were discussing the heartrending difference in life spans of humans and pets. Why are their lives so much shorter than ours?
The little boy offered this:
People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life — like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right? Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.
I don’t know, but I’ve known many wonderful dogs, cats, a few birds, some rats, a turtle, a I’ve met some horses. And I’ll say this about them: they all seemed smarter and wiser than humans. I sense older souls; a deeper, truer participation in the spirit of life, and a greater joy in living. They seem to know something I don’t know. Maybe it has something to do with Now.
Perhaps the little boy is wrong. It’s not that they know how to love everybody and be nice, but that it’s something unknowable. They don’t know it, they just do it.
Yup. Those "lesser" mammals know something I don't know. And, of course, I don't know what it is because I don't know what it is. On that account our good buddy Rumsfeld had it right: There are things I know I don't know.