Excerpted from a 15 August 2015 AZ Republic article by Diana M Nanez
When you’re heartsick, the love of a pet can be a cure.
Even at your worst, your fourlegged friend will sit quietly by your side, licking your tears, nuzzling your hand and letting you know you’re not on your own.
Last week, a Tempe man wrote a tribute for his dog, Scully. Randy Keating poured his heart out and posted it on Facebook.
He described how a Maricopa County shelter dog he adopted more than a decade ago gave him an unconditional love that changed his life. Saved it, really, he says. And he wrote that even after a pet dies, there’s a bond that remains.
It was a universal message for anyone who has ever lost a pet so beloved it was as much a part of the family as any human. People responded to the post with kindness, prayers and stories about grieving and healing after the loss of their own pets.
While social-media memorials for pets are increasingly common, this tribute revealed low moments in a human’s life when the love of a pet became a lifeline.
“It was a time when I had never felt more alone in the world. I desperately needed a companion, I needed an outlet for the love I felt in my heart but didn’t know how to express. I needed something to make me believe that there was good in my life and it was worth living. Scully was that outlet, she was the rock I needed. She was the foundation which I began to turn my life around. I knew I wouldn’t do it for myself, but I would do it for her. I could love Scully as a proxy for myself, and I would strive to give her a better life.”
Keating says he wrote the post because Scully had given him so much he wanted to thank her in a public way...
“I didn’t know it at the time, but looking back, there’s something to be said about having an object of affection, something that you love and loves you back,” he says. “Scully taught me how to love.”
Scully was fine until about a week before she died. She looked lovely in her red-flowered bow, napping in her favorite squishy beanbag chair.
Then, Keating noticed her breathing was labored. The vet checked for valley fever. Keating was relieved when the test came back negative. But on Sunday, Scully’s breathing was so rough he rushed her to the emergency vet clinic.
“We knew something was seriously wrong,” he wrote.
The vet said Scully had terminal lung cancer. Nothing could be done to save her life.
Keating asked friends to send him pictures of Scully, as if he didn’t have enough already. He had posted photos of Scully playing with her new banana-yellow football. Scully giving sloppy-wet kisses. Scully on Halloween, when she played Spock to Keating’s young Captain Kirk.
On National Puppy Day, Scully was smiling, sitting in the grass under the shade of a tree, looking showy in her blue bow.
“She may be an old gray lady, but she will always be my pup,” he wrote last March.
On Tuesday, Keating wrote that he had said a last goodbye to his best friend. He posted 108 photos of her. And in comment after comment, people reached out.
“It’s not easy to lose a part of your family. Dogs are such loyal, loving, forgiving and selfless creatures and we are fortunate enough to be able to give them happy lives and enjoy the immense amount of joy they bring into ours!!!!”
“Pets are more than mere animals. They are love in the deepest, purest form.”
“Farewell, Scully, good and faithful servant. May you run free and await your best friend at the rainbow bridge.”
“She certainly sounds like an amazing friend. A quote I always appreciate is ‘I strive to be the person my dog thinks I am.’ ”
Keating wrote that his heart ached, but that he would remember every lesson Scully taught him.
“Goodbye, Old Girl. I love you so much, and hope you are at peace now. I will never forget you, and everything you did for me. You were, are, and always will be my best friend, and a very, very good girl. Cute, too. Scully Dog Keating. 9/6/04 – 8/3/15.”