Dogs and Stars

I suppose most of you reading this have had a pet at one time or another and I hope that everyone has at least one opportunity to have a good dog.  I feel pretty blessed to have owned four really good dogs in my life, but I suppose my three labs were my favorite.  I lost Moose, my oldest (14 years), in 2011, and Abby New Year’s Eve 2013 at age 10, which left me Tucker.

Last week was a very difficult time for me.

It all started when I came home from church to find Tucker unable to move his legs and very lethargic.  After a trip to the E.R in Houston they diagnosed him with embolism, which is a blood clot in the spinal cord.  We kept him inside for a few days praying over him and believing God with all our heart for a miracle.  I know that God cares about the things that are dear to us and after all Tucker was His creation as well.  I fully expected a miracle but none came.

He lay on a blanket in the middle of our floor sleeping or just looking at us.  No wagging tail, no panting smile, no willingness to eat, but an occasional cry in the middle of the night to let us know that he was still hurting.

On Tuesday our vet concluded that he most likely did have a blockage and that the chance of him recovering the use of his legs was very slim.  He was in pain and had an elevated temperature, so I made the hard decision to say good bye.  This was only one year from the time that I had Abby put to sleep when her hips became so weak she could no longer walk and 4 years from the time I had Moose put to sleep when old age finally got the best of him.

Here is a photo of Tucker from a few years ago

My heart broke as I told Tucker what a good dog he had been and that I was sorry I could not help him.  All the years I had spent with these dogs running at the reservoir or playing in the back yard was about to be over.  It is a very sad thing to be there when they administer the first shot that slowly allows them to go to sleep, but I sat with him because did not want him to be alone.  Tucker was only 7 and really in his prime, but now he was gone.

I thought about the different personalities of my dogs and how often during prayer walks I would think about the lessons to be learned from all of them.  Moose, the oldest, was, from his puppy hood, a “wonderer,” an “explorer” who could be easily distracted by a smell or animal scent and would sometimes either fall behind or disappear altogether.  More than once I had to back track or go on a hunt for him.

It wasn’t that he was disobedient or even rebellious it was just that he was a “dreamer” and sometimes lost track of where he was supposed to be.

Abby was the most loyal of the three and her place was always with me.  She may sniff and jump in the water for a cool off but she would always find her way right back to my side.

She represented loyalty and faithfulness at all times.

Tucker was the “leader” and even when he was a pup and I was introducing him to the five mile loop around the reservoir he would never allow Moose or Abby to be in front of him.  He never ran away he never got lost but he always had to be in front.  I often thought about how their different dispositions were not necessarily making one better than the other but just different.

I started to think about how we relate to our Master in Heaven.  I thought about how many people are like Moose who are creative and curious but sometimes get distracted from their relationship with God.  They mean well but sometimes they look up and realize they have gotten off track.

Then there are the “Tuckers,” they are natural born leaders, they always keep the Master in site, but insist on being in the lead.  Sometimes they become a little too confident in themselves and don’t wait on the Master to go before them.  They sometimes find themselves overstepping the will of God.

Finally there are those like Abby who I think of as Mary (Sister to Martha) who was just content sitting at the Master’s feet.  I believe God has a place for all of our personalities in His Kingdom.  I know that He loves us all equally and He is more than happy to use us all in the areas where we are gifted.  There are simple things that we can learn from dogs and things to appreciate about them like the fact that they love you and are glad to see you regardless of how your day has been or what mood you are in.

Their love is constant and unconditional just like God.

The day after I buried Tucker I went to the reservoir to do my prayer walk before daylight.  As I started my walk I was sad that my longtime companion was not there.  I struggled to know why God did not answer my prayer, and I cried a lot.  After walking a half a mile the sun started to come up behind me.  I noticed the moon bright in the west and beside it a single star in the blue sky.  I felt the presence of the Lord at that moment and I felt honored to be where I was.  I continued to walk west as the sun became brighter and the star grew dim.  I came to a grassy spot and lay on my back staring at the star; it began to fade little by little until I strained to see it.

I heard the voice of God speak to me and say, “Because you cannot see this star anymore does not mean it is gone and in the times when you can’t see me or hear me know that I am still here”.  Though He never answered my questions I knew that I had been heard and that He was still with me.  I read this verse a few days later and it helped me to know that there really are some things I may never know.

The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us”.  (Deut. 29:29a)

In my times of sorrow and questions I have a God that can still speak to me even through dogs and stars.

Blessings, PK