Loitering with intent
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Pope's Dog

Pope's DogKILKENNY -- We lost Chuckie to ill health the same week we listened to reports of the death of Pope John Paul II. We think Chuckie would be welcome in a holy place because his gentle nature represented charity and compassion. He never snarled, never took an aggressive position, never asked for much. He politely waited for food and would even defer to cats who insisted on having his dinner (unless it was liver). Chuckie was a rescued Pomeranian--he would have been put down by the pound if we hadn't claimed him around two years ago. He showed us things we never knew dogs could do. He could smile. He could hop down steps instead of walk down them. He would patiently sit outside on a lead--sometimes for 15 minutes at a time--without barking at us to hurry up. He wouldn't eat if he was unwell because he didn't want to soil anything. That proved to be part of his demise--he refused food and water in his dying days because he couldn't stand up without our support. So Chuckie passed away under my hands. He was put to sleep when he told us it was time.

There's a community undercurrent in our experience with Chuckie. It extends beyond the realm of . It's a community that starts with Irish Animals.ie, an online hive of activity that started with denise cox and continues with moderators like Karlin Lillington and tech support from Brian Greene. The welfare of animals in Ireland is better because of the virtual extensions that enable a community spread from the west of Ireland to the countryside of Essex.

There's also a community of commentators that kindly leave behind short messages of condolence on this blog and my Yahoo! 360 space when they read about Chuckie leaving our lives.

While some people evaluate weblogs and discussion groups by their ability to shift political agendas, they often fail to see the important social value played by virtual communities when it comes to sharing problems and relieving stress. During the past week, blogging has helped me deal with the passing of a beloved family pet. Visitors reminded me that I wasn't alone and that knowledge gave me strength.

I feel that Chuckie has passed away from this earth but that he will always be with me as a source of happiness. I'll remember him as the Pope's dog because we think he was also 84 years old. We know he was as gentle and loving as the Pope aspired for all humanity to be.

Previously on IrishEyes -- "How do you know it's time?"
Our dogs on Flickr.
Irish Animals discussion board has dogs, cats, and guinea pigs rescued for loving care.