We lost our dog on Friday. I hesitate to write this now; when the pain is still very real and emotions are raw.
It doesn’t take long for people to realize that I have a soft spot for animals. One only has to look at my facebook page and see the many photos of our pets to know that.
When we first knew we would be leaving for Honduras, my thoughts also turned to what would we do with our dog? She was older, we had had her for 11 years and she was atleast a year when we adopted her. She had arthritis and was also deaf. I knew she would never make the trip. The flight alone would have probably done her in. I asked my parents but knew it wasn’t fair to ask them, as they could never give her the care she needed on a full time basis.
I began to pray about it..”God, if Maddie can’t come with us to Honduras, then please just take her peacefully in her sleep before we go” I didn’t want to have to put her down before it was time; before she or we were ready. I so wanted her to come with us to Honduras, but knew in my heart of hearts it was not realistic.
Looking back it was shortly after returning from Honduras that Maddie began to decline somewhat.
In early June I took Maddie to the vet because she was very lethargic, and not herself. She was “napping” in the weirdest places, like under the kitchen table instead of her bed…Although she still had her appetite!
It was at this vet appointment that the vet detected something new. Maddie was in heart failure.
I mentioned to the vet about us moving to Honduras and she said “Maddie is not a good candidate for that”
I asked her how much time she thought Maddie had left and was told the last dog she had seen with this lasted three months before passing. “It’s like sudden death”
The news was sobering.
After that Maddie seemed somewhat alright. Dale had even commented that he didn’t think the vet was right and maybe she just had a virus or something. He didn’t think there was really anything wrong with her heart.
She still struggled with her arthritis but managed ok with the help of duralacin shipped from a friend in the states and her glucosomine.
Yet she did need help getting up and down the stairs and off of the furniture. She was a bit too crippled up to do those things on her own.
Most of the time she slept on her bed under the end table in the living room. It was like her little cave.
One night she was sleeping on the couch comfortably in the family room. So when we went to bed we let her be; not wanting to disturb her.
The next morning I slept in til 6:30, (if you can call it that–normally I am up way before 6:30.) I heard her walking up the wooden stairs. She had jumped off the couch on her own.
When she did this she damaged her front paw somehow. It just kind of hung there all limp like. It was weird because it didn’t seem to hurt her when we touched it. We later found out that it wasn’t broken but there was nerve damage there.
The following day I was sick and laying on the couch in the family room. I saw Maddie standing at the top of the stairs and I knew she wanted down to be with me. That’s how she was; always wanting to be where her family was.
I called for her to “wait!” But it was too late- down those wooden stairs she fell and more less flew across the floor landing on her side. I remember crying “Maddie, why didn’t you wait for me?”
I think that was the final straw. We don’t know how much damage she did internally.
After that she moved even more slowly- taking a few steps and then just laying down, not even bothering with her comfortable bed. She couldn’t manage to walk there. She had also collapsed three times on us that week. She would just lay there on the kitchen floor and we would pick her up and put her on her bed.
The last two days she was with us, we put her on our bed with us at night. When she was younger she always slept at the foot of the bed until she could no longer get on and off by herself.
That last morning when Dale helped her off the bed she cried in pain when he picked her up. He put her outside and it seemed to take forever for her to find a place to go. She hobbled slowly along and finally went. Then rather than coming back to the house she just laid down in the grass. Dale brought her in and fed her and she ate and then laid down again, her head in her bowl. I lost it at the point. I knew we were losing her and it hurt so much to see her suffer. I knew she was hurting bad. I was so hoping that she would come around in the morning and we wouldn’t have to take her in but instead she was worse. Dale picked her up and set her on bed in the living room.
All that final day she lay around -once in a while getting up to eat and go outside. She had her favorite treats that day; yogurt, cheese and ice cream, never losing her appetite even in her final moments.
I was happy and blessed to have a lot of time alone with her on her last day. Just her and I saying our goodbyes before Dale came and we took her on one final trip to the vet.
I know all along I had been saying when the time comes I didn’t want to make that decision. With everything in me I prayed that when it was her time she would just go peacefully in her sleep. But it didn’t happen that way.
Reflecting back though, I am so thankful it didn’t . God reminded me of something. If Maddie had simply passed in her sleep, we wouldn’t have had the chance to say our goodbyes and she would have died alone. Instead we were with her right until the very end and we had a chance to say goodbye.
The timing of it all is ironic.
In a couple weeks we are headed off to Peterborough for missions training. For the duration of that week we had previously arranged for my parents to take care of Maddie. They loved having her and Maddie loved being there. They spoiled her rotten!
However with their sunken in living room and deck to get off of to go outside, we were concerned about how Maddie would fare there this time. My parents were afraid to pick her up to help her down for fear of hurting her…so what would she do?
I believe God knew all this and knew how we would worry about her- knew how difficult it would be for my parents to deal with her, and how hard it would be on Maddie to get around.
Now, we don’t need to worry about any of that. There is no longer any worry about what will happen to Maddie when we go to Honduras. Much as our hearts are broken and the pain is intense, we have the memories to treasure forever.. Maddie was old, weak and tired and the last couple days we knew she wanted to go. It was her time. We wanted more time with her, but it wasn’t meant to be I guess.
It is going to be difficult without her as we see her shadow everywhere, and miss the littlest of things- her snoring, nails clicking on the floors, her under my feet in the kitchen, her pleading brown eyes looking up at me…no more almost empty yogurt containers for her to clean out…the list goes on and on..
I know God will give us the strength to get through the days ahead and He is even now. I know as painful as it is, it’s part of our journey to Honduras. I am sure I will have my moments when the memories of her overwhelm me and I just break down, it’s happened alot today actually…but I also know it will get easier.
I know I can trust God with our future as He works out His plan for our lives. It won’t come without pain or hardship, but He will be there for us giving us strength.
The Lord is close to the broken hearted and he rescues thoses whose spirits are crushed.
I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: the faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is His faithfulness. His mercies begin a fresh each morning.