My dear sweet Doggy Boy,
What am I going to do with you? Do you feel the pain that fills my heart when I look at you this moment? I watched you try to find a comfortable spot on the old blanket at my feet. I cringed to hear your moans as you flopped onto your side. It’s getting harder and harder for you to stand up once you are down. Sometimes we have to help you up, and that makes you mad. I know, sweetie. That would make me, mad, too.
You have a sore on your foot because you have started dragging it behind you when you walk. At first, you cross your back legs and walk sideways for a few steps until momentum gets you going. I can hear you coming now…Click DRAG. Click DRAG. You love to climb the stairs after me, but you can’t go down them anymore. When you tried the other day, you fell. So now I have to put up the baby gate and watch your eyes as they follow me mournfully upstairs. Sometimes you even bark at me. I don’t blame you. I want to bark, too.
This weekend your Daddy tried to get you to play some ball. You used to be good enough to play professional baseball. Do you remember leaping in the air to catch a ball with your mouth? Maybe your eyesight isn’t what it used to be, because when he gently tossed that tennis ball to you, you just stood there and let it hit you in the head. Oh, how it hurts to write those words.
Last night you had another poopy accident. It got all over you, and your Daddy had to spray you with ice-cold water outside. It was raining and very cold, but you stood there like a trooper and let him clean you up. Later today you had another accident, and when I cleaned you up I noticed that you have a growth of some kind. Now don’t worry, Shiner boy. We are taking you back to the vet this week and will get you all checked out.
I’m glad you still remember how to get the newspaper for us. It was so cold this morning. You were so excited to be getting the paper for me that you slid across the floor in your haste to get to the door. You slid a little in the grass but kept on going and brought me that newspaper. I enjoyed giving you a cookie, even if you did leave a few crumbs.
You didn’t used to leave crumbs…ever! But at least you still love food. This weekend I accidentally left some oatmeal cookies I had baked for my Sunday School students in my bag. Your nose found them quickly. Before I knew it, you had your nose in the bag and were helping yourself!
You didn’t like it when I took them away from you. Maybe I should have just let you have the whole bag. I didn’t let you eat them all because I take care of you. God put the animals (that’s you) under the care of people (that’s me). I know you think that you are a people (or at least that I am a dog), but the fact is you are under my care. God gave you to us when you were just eight weeks old. We’ve come a long way together, haven’t we? You were the size of your head when we first got you.
You’ve come through lots of health issues, my sweet doggy boy. Every time you have never lost your zeal for life. Even today when you hobble around the house, I see the old spark in your eyes when I’m holding food or cooking in the kitchen. We took care of you even when it meant we had to make you wear that plastic lampshade around your head. We watched over you after you had TPLO surgery. When you had the other knee repaired, we had to move your leg back and forth several times a day. You didn’t like this physical therapy, but we did it for you anyway and distracted you with peanut butter in a hollow bone. We did it because we loved you.
I love you, my sweet Shiner. This weekend we made a mold of your paw print. It looks so special! It’s going to be a stepping stone that we will keep forever. We even got some of your ever-shedding fur and mixed it in with the concrete. It was very hard for me to do, but I knew we needed to get your print while you could still walk.
Have I told you about heaven? It’s a place where the lion lays down with the lamb. One day very soon, my sweet Shiner boy, you are going to leave us for a much better place. You can chase balls all day and never get tired! You can do gymnastics again while chasing the water hose…and you’ll have an endless supply of peanut butter and chocolate that will never make you sick. Don’t be sad…you’re just getting there before we do. We will see you again…and you can bring us God’s Newspaper, if He so chooses.
Who is God? Well, God is the creator of the universe! He’s the one who made you. And he’s the one who will make you well when you cross over to heaven. I don’t know exactly when that time will be, but I can see that you are really hurting. There isn’t much this side of heaven that can make you feel better…but the Lord can. As the ones God put in charge of you, we have to do all that we can to keep you well. And when we can’t do that anymore…when you are in so much pain that you can’t walk or get up on your own…then we will let you take a journey to a place where you can be a whole doggy again. We will give you back to the One Who created you.
You are sleeping right now, but soon I must go try to get you to take a walk outside. I will offer you a cookie — that should help motivate you to stand up for me! I think I’ll even give you two if you give me a doggy kiss!