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Seize the Day!

The following article was written by Karen Porreca, PETA’s senior library director and chief copy editor. 

“Seize the day, trusting as little as possible in the future”―these words of wisdom came from Horace, a Roman poet who lived from 65 to 8 B.C.E. Nowhere in our lives is this advice more apt than in our relationships. And because all dogs’ lives are tragically short, this advice applies all the more to them.

I recently began corresponding with Kate Hughes, a lovely woman who appreciates dogs as much as I do. She had an idyllic family life with her husband, Virgil, their cat, Daisy, and two big dogs, Wrigley and Coco. Both dogs had come through hard times before ending up with Kate and Virgil. Wrigley had been shot with a BB gun, lived through Katrina, and finally been dumped by the side of a road. Coco’s past is not as well known, but for a while, she had the telltale skittishness of a dog who had not always been treated well. The two dogs were inseparable. According to Kate, “Wrigley was a playful and protective big brother. He and Coco would sleep snuggled up together in our bed every night, and he often licked her face gently while she fell asleep. He was also buddies with our cat, Daisy (adopted last summer), who liked to swat his tail and cuddle up with him in his chair.”

The late Wrigley Hughes enjoys an autumn adventure in the woods.

We write of Wrigley in the past tense because not long ago, tragedy struck. An overnight guest at Kate and Virgil’s home left a bottle of the medication Adderall within reach of the dogs, and Wrigley chewed up the bottle and consumed most of the pills. At 5:30 a.m. on August 17, Kate awoke to find Wrigley foaming at the mouth and frantically thrashing around. She rushed him to the emergency vet, where he spent the next 48 hours struggling to survive what was essentially an overdose of a drug similar to speed. The vets did everything within their power to save him, but Wrigley had suffered too much organ damage and finally had to be euthanized. Kate wrote, “It was so crushingly painful and heartbreaking to say goodbye to our healthy and happy-go-lucky pup. It haunts me to know that this terrible tragedy could have been avoided. I still think of that night over and over and can’t believe that this happened in our own home when we’ve always been so neurotic and careful. Not a minute goes by that we don’t think of Wrigley and not a day goes by that I don’t cry for him. He had overcome so much in his short life and gave us (and many others) infinitely more unconditional love than we could ever fathom.”

Wrigley was only 6 years old when he died. Just last weekend, I heard that the 6-year-old dog of an acquaintance of mine has developed terminal cancer in his jaw. The week before that, a friend told me that his little dog had been killed by a neighborhood pit bull. I myself had a dog who died of liver disease long before his time. Losing a dog who has not yet reached old age is not an uncommon experience, even though it seems like a terribly unfair one. No matter how careful we are, any dog can fall victim to an accident, be harmed by another dog or person, or become terminally ill at a young age.

So let’s remind ourselves to cherish our dogs each and every day and not put off for later any of the fun things that they might enjoy. Hiking in the woods, swimming at the beach, agility classes, play dates, dog parties, belly rubs―whatever your dogs like, let them do it now. Don’t put it off, because there are no guarantees that they will still be here tomorrow.

Wrigley poses with family members Virgil, Kate, and Coco during one of their many hiking trips.

Thankfully, despite his premature passing, Wrigley was luckier than 99 percent of the dogs on the planet because Kate and Virgil have always understood how to seize the day. In the four short years that Wrigley lived with them, he joined the family on hiking and camping adventures and traveled to Michigan, Maryland, Vermont’s Green Mountains, the Berkshires, Cape Cod, the Hamptons, Bear Mountain in Connecticut, Niagara Falls, and the Appalachian Trail. He also had many opportunities to do the things he loved—like going to the dog park, romping through the snow, and swimming in the ocean, lakes, and rivers. Wrigley’s story is a cautionary tale, yes, but it also illustrates the importance of making sure that our dogs get to enjoy life to the fullest, whatever its length.

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  • Amanda says:

    This breaks my heart for the Hughes, but I’m so glad Wrigley got to live life to the fullest in the time he spent with them. Good advice, too–the time I sometimes waste worrying about how I could ever live without any of my dogs would be much better spent creating all the fun memories I possibly can with them!
    Kimberly, I’m very sorry for your loss, and I hope that when you’re ready to add another dog to your family you will be inspired by this story to give a lost soul in need a new lease on life–even if you prefer certain breeds, there are breed specific rescues that can help you find that perfect dog who’s just waiting to love you.

  • emikikmybenisa says:

    I think that all people should sieze the moment for all creatures as tiny as an ant to flies to birds to dogs to elephants (all of GODS wonderful creatures and take time to observe them around their surroundings and enjoy them for they have a purpose in life

  • Kimberly says:

    I, too, have lost my beloved dog in the past year. He lost his battle with bone cancer just barely after his 4th birthday. I could have blamed the breeder, harbored bitter feelings towards her, demanded a refund, or even blamed the vet for not catching it sooner. However, it was no one’s fault. Dogs get sick. Accidents occur. Tragedies happen. The article makes it sound as if the overnight guest is to blame for leaving a bottle of the medication Adderall within reach of the dogs.” I hope this is not the case. I cannot begin to imagine how the guest must feel and what he/she would have given to save Wrigley.
    My sister lost her Westie when she became entangled in the kids’ soccer net while they were at church. My sister spent hours upon hours thinking of what she could have done differently that day. She and her husband, and even the kids, could have blamed each other for not putting the soccer net away or for leaving the dog outside. They recognized that it was truly an accident and none of that would bring their sweet dog back. They took comfort in one another, found ways to celebrate Louise’s life, and let time help to heal them.
    My heartfelt sympathies go out to Kate and Virgil because I know the empty feeling of waking up looking for a dog that is not there or coming home expecting him to be waiting for you. I still cry almost daily over mine and it has been almost a year.
    The article begins “Seize the day, trusting as little as possible in the future.” It sounds as if we need to remember this, not only when it comes to Wrigley and our other four-legged friends, but also apply it to our real friends, family and overnight guests. Because I am certain, that guest wishes Wrigley was home healthy and happy just as Kate and Virgil do. Let go of the event that cost Wrigley his life and instead, celebrate his life, remember the happy times, and smile through the tears.

  • Kimberly says:

    I, too, have lost my dog in the past year. I lost him at the age of 4 to bone cancer. I could have blamed the breeder, held bitter feelings towards her or even blamed the vet for not catching it sooner. However, it was no one’s fault. Accidents occur. Dogs get sick. Tragedies happen. The article makes it sound as if the overnight guest is to blame for leaving “a bottle of the medication Adderall within reach of the dogs.” I sincerely hope that is not the case. My sister lost her Westie when she became entangled in the kids’ soccer net while they were at church. She spent hours upon hours asking herself what she could have done differently that day. She and her husband, and even the kids, could have pointed fingers, blaming each other for not putting the net away or for leaving the dog outside. Luckily, they took comfort in each other, found ways to celebrate Louise’s life, and let time help to heal them. I know how badly it hurts to wake up and not have your dog there or to come home from work not to see him there waiting for you, so I send my heartfelt sympathies to Kate and Virgil. However, I pray there are no bitter feelings or pointed fingers at the overnight guest because I can only imagine he/she would give anything if they could have saved Wrigley. Choose to celebrate the life you had with Wrigley, remember the happy things, and smile through the tears. The article begins “Seize the day, trusting as little as possible in the future.” It sounds as if we need to remember this applies not only to Wrigley and our other 4-legged friends, but also to our real friends, family and overnight guests because I am more than certain that guest would love nothing more than to have Wrigley healthy, happy and home with his beloved family.

  • Kimberly says:

    I lost my dane to bone cancer at age 4. I could blame the breeder, ask for a refund, and hold bitter feelings towards her and even towards the vet who didn’t find it sooner. However, it was no one’s fault. Accidents occur. Dogs get sick. Terrible things happen. This article makes it sound as if the guest is to blame for leaving “a bottle of the medication Adderall within reach of the dogs.” I’m certain the overnight guest would give anything if they could have saved Wrigley. I pray there are no hard feelings between the parents of Wrigley and the guest. My sister lost her Westie when she became tangled in her child’s soccer net while they were at church. She blamed herself and went crazy thinking of the million things they could have done differently that day. However, none of that brought their sweet puppy back. She and her husband, and even the kids, could have blamed one another for what happened and who was responsible for leaving the net out or not putting the dog inside before church, all of which would have made them hurt even more. Luckily, they took comfort in each other, found ways to celebrate Louise’s life and let time help to heal them. Losing a beloved pet leaves you with a feeling of emptyness that does not go away. It’s been almost a year since I lost mine and I still cry almost daily because I miss him so badly. I hope Kate and Virgil and their overnight guest take comfort in each other because I can imagine, the overnight guest is as distraught as they are and would give anything to have Wrigley happy, healthy and home with his family. Not only should we “Seize the day, trusting as little as possible in the future” when it comes to our pets, but also to our friends!

  • FRIENDBEAR says:

    SUCH A GORGEOUS BABY! ;( PLEASE REMEMBER THEY NEVER LEAVE! NOV 2 IS ALL SOULS DAY, THE DAY TO REMEMBER ALL HOLY SOULS AND KNOW THEY ARE STILL WITH US AND WAITING, AS WRIGLEY WILL BE FOR HIS LOVED ONES. INCLUDE THEM IN THE BEST OF WAYS ON TUESDAY! IT ISNT JUST FOR HUMANS!

  • Cecilia Gonzalez says:

    This story is really touching. It makes me feel very sad because of the suffering this dog had to pass, but it makes me happy to know how happy he was in the time he passed with his family, as it is seen in the pictures. Dogs more than anyone in the world know the meaning of living each day of ourlives as if it was the last one. They are always willing to play, love, run, and enjoy every moment of life the best they can. That what makes them special, they are always happy no matter what, they are always there for us. Thank God That a lot of good persons exist today that care about animal rights and daily fight to defend them, as I do every day. I thank heaven for Wrigley had the opportunity to have a family, a brother (coco), food, a home, a bed where to sleep, and the life he had full of adventures in which I imagine he had the chance to be free and full of happiness in the water, snow or sand. Its great that his family took him to man different places for vacations, we must never forget that dogs like to go out with us, they like to have fun. Today, I love Wrigley just because he was a dog, another beautiful creature that existed in our planet to change our lives, to show us how wonderful it is, even when our time here is uncertain and short.

  • W25 says:

    Wonderful article! Thank you!

  • Deepa says:

    We have a dog ” Dexter” . He is the star in our family. He is 11 years old. We at home cherish everything from his simple yawning to his weird attitude he throws around. We dont even know a life without him.

  • Wendy Snead says:

    Beautiful stories…. gonna give my dogs some extra special spoiling today!!!!!!!!!!

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