web home of Dr. Christine King

Nothing More is Needed - on caring for our animals (and ourselves)


Food, water, air, sunlight, cycles, rest, work, play, love, death.

Copyright © 2011 Christine M. King. All rights reserved.


Loving social bonds are as essential
As food, water, air, sunlight, seasons...
We need each other in order to be well.

Oh, but not the gooey sentimentality
That so often passes for love.

Love is robust and resilient,
Strong, without needing to grasp or cling,
And brave enough to be selfless.

Not the fake “selflessness” of
Emotional martyrdom, emotional blackmail,
But a dissolving of the boundaries of separate self;
Me and you dissolved into WE.

Thus, love is not a sentiment,
It is an experience.
Of life.
It’s how life is to be lived.

Loving social bonds are essential.
Good company makes us feel good,
And it makes us feel safe.

Even science has proven the importance
Of loving and being loved.

Why do anything we don’t love?
Why be anywhere we don’t love?
Why be with anyone we don’t love?

Heaven and hell are here and now:
Heaven is found with those we love.

But while loving social bonds
Surely do cross species divides,
There is simply no substitute
For being with one’s own kind.

There is nothing like the instant
Understanding and acceptance
Of one’s own kind.
Ah, to be truly understood: heaven.

So, make sure dogs have dog friends,
Horses have horse friends,
Chickens have chicken friends — and
Humans have human friends.

To make my dog be my best friend
Is to disrespect and disregard her dogness.
And my humanness.

To the best of your ability,
Treat the social bonds your animals make
As just as precious as your own.
Because to love and be loved: heaven.
My dog taught me this.


And so we come now to death.

Death comes to us all.
It is nothing to be feared,
Nothing to be resisted.
As if it could be resisted. Ha!
Here, if anywhere, “resistance is futile.”

Death — and dying — is not complicated.
Neither is it a problem to be solved or an
Enemy to be fought against, pushed back
Until the last possible moment.
It is only we, who fear it so, who make it so.

Death is best accepted as one of the ways
Life transforms itself into something else.
Into what? Who can say.
Probably into another life, wouldn’t you think?

When the prospect of death —
One’s own death or that of a beloved —
Is met with equanimity, one’s
Life forever changes.
We can live without fear, without dreading loss.
And we can love without fear, without dreading loss.

A young dog with an inherited disease
Once told me this:
“We show you how to love without hanging on.”

To love with the lightest possible touch,
With an open hand that is both
Free to receive
And to let go when the time comes.

With sadness, yes, but without
That dreaded sense of loss.
Because what we held so gently in our hand
Was never really ours
And is never really lost.

Oh, to live like that every day!
Such is the gift of being
On friendly terms with death.

My dog has taught me this.

To love a dog or a cat or a horse or a human
Is to sign up for a master class in love and loss.
Like the monks who sleep in coffins to
Inure themselves to the prospect of death,
Almost daily I imagine life without her.

How much sweeter it makes life with her!


All content: Copyright © Christine M. King, 2005-present. All rights reserved.
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