Sunday, August 15, 2010
A Wagging Tale of Constancy
I was at work one day when my mother called. “Please go to the animal hospital as soon as you can. Pebbles is not recovering properly from her surgery and the vet is concerned. She’s not eating. She seems depressed. The vet thinks that if she sees her family, she may perk up.”
My brother, sister and I met at the animal hospital late that afternoon with a small serving of browned ground beef. We went in to see Pebbles, our family dog of about 9 years. When her eyes lit up, her head lifted and her tail wagged, the vet said it was her first sign of healthy recovery. We sat about an hour with Pebbles, talking to her and rubbing her, and feeding her the beef which was a treat for a dog never allowed to have people food. She came home the next day, happy and fully recovering.
About seven years later I lived in the city, away from home. The call from my mother in a hushed tone brought me to instant tears, “Pebbles is gone.” I could barely eat for days. I couldn’t fall asleep at night. I was numb with visions of the past 16 years of constant faithfulness in the form of Pebbles, a black and white, 35 lb. Springer Spaniel Mix.
A family dog in a loving home truly becomes a part of that family. The longer they live with that family the harder it is for everyone when they leave this earth. (I always like to think that when they leave us they're with St. Francis and the animals he loved and also with that big white horse that Jesus rides in the Book of Revelation).
As I consider my devoted Jasmine and Gypsy, I’m beginning to realize that the reason for that deep sense of loss which is often profound must be related to the fact that in our ever changing lives, it is our dogs who remain constant. They might slow down a bit with age, but the only real ‘change’ is that they also become more loyal as time goes on. The family changes in size and it may even change location. But our dogs are always there - the same today as they were yesterday. We can always count on them. Partly because they are creatures of habit. Partly because it’s their very nature to be devoted and to accept us as we are. Pure and simple, they love us.
Besides God in our midst, there are few others we know who can boast such faithfulness even when we are faithless. It’s no wonder that when it’s their time to cross over we are so devastated. Our constancy has been replaced with a perception of uncertainness; life moves on unsteady ground once more. Thank God, we do truly always have Him.