Some of the most poignant moments I spend as a
veterinarian are those spent with my clients assisting the
transition of my animal patients from this world to the
next. When living becomes a burden, whether from pain or
loss of normal functions, I can help a family by ensuring
that their beloved pet has an easy passing. Making this
final decision is painful, and I have often felt powerless
to comfort the grieving owners.

That was before I met Shane.

I had been called to examine a ten-year-old blue heeler
named Belker who had developed a serious health problem.
The dog's owners - Ron, his wife, Lisa, and their little
boy, Shane - were all very attached to Belker and they were
hoping for a miracle. I examined Belker and found he was
dying of cancer.

I told the family there were no miracles left for
Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for
the old dog in their home. As we made arrangements, Ron and
Lisa told me they thought it would be good for the four-
year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt Shane
could learn something from the experience.

The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as
Belker's family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm,
petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he
understood what was going on.

Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.
The little boy seemed to accept Belker's transition without
any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while
after Belker's death, wondering aloud about the sad fact
that animal lives are shorter than human lives.

Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, "I
know why."

Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his
mouth next stunned me - I'd never heard a more comforting

He said, "Everybody is born so that they can learn how
to live a good life - like loving everybody and being nice,
right?" The four-year-old continued, "Well, animals already
know how to do that, so they don't have to stay as long."