Participating in social media, one of the things that has struck me is how often we are forced to share that we have lost our four-legged friends.
Over four years ago Hilda, our Gordon Setter became desperately ill, almost instantly after we moved to Tennessee. She stopped eating and, at first, we thought that she was disoriented or sulking. After all, we were staying in a hotel while we settled on a new home, and we were disoriented, too.
A little over two days into our transition, we concluded that something more serious was to blame. So, we hospitalized her in the hope that we could isolate the problem. A day and a half later we were told that there was really no hope of recovery. She was not entirely in touch with her surroundings. She had to be brought in to see us on a gurney, and she could barely lift her head.
At over 11 years old, with a recent string of serious health challenges, it was clear that she was at the end of life. Even the procedures that the specialists suggested ran a high risk of stroke or heart attack; and they were certain that she had an underlying and serious cancer that was driving the results of her blood work.
So, an otherwise beautiful and happy day, we were forced to let her go and we found our way to a nearby vineyard to toast her memory. We were her pack and she had been ours for almost as long as we had been married and the loss hit us hard.
I don’t believe that dogs have souls. And for the same reason, they don’t face the challenges that we human beings face with being good or being loving. Treated well, they tend to be the picture of unconditional love.
This doesn’t mean that I think that God doesn’t care about them. Far from it. The Christian vision of the future is one of a restored heaven and earth, with all that is in it and our four-legged friends are a part of that future.
I am sure it doesn’t work this way, but I am fairly sure that they are on something like an express lane into God’s good kingdom. But I am sure that no good thing that God gives us is forever lost.
A dear friend observed that the decision we make to let them go must be a decision based, not on our needs, but on theirs, and that we often confuse the two. There is no telling anyone how to navigate those difficult choices, but may we all exercise the love and care that marked our lives with these precious gifts.