The Privilege of Weeping for a Dog
As I've shared in recent posts, we've had a bit of a scare with our beloved Joogsie.
She's not out of the woods yet, but seems to be doing quite well and we are anticipating a great recovery. Thank you for your support.
During the more challenging days of wondering what was wrong and trying to find solutions, we were preparing ourselves, just in case. Her bad days were pretty bad, with no real energy level to speak of on her good days.
As this continued, we discussed this a bit, attempting to come to grips with the emotions involved, how to proceed and other aspects of the loss we're feeling. It seems disproportionate, and yet it's real. Maybe being empty nesters is a factor. We're not sure.
One of the things we discussed was where we might bury her. We could take her up to the mountains where we enjoyed a month-long vacation. Maybe out in the desert here where she's been able to run freely while we hiked. Mount Graham is close, but we've not spent much time there.
It's an odd thing to think through. You don't want to, and yet you do. It hurts, but it heals. And you know it's ultimately more about you than your furry friend. But there's that sense of honoring the loyalty they gave so freely as well.
As I walked around our property here (only about 1/3 acre), I tried to figure if she had a favorite place. She really doesn't though. Her favorite place is in my office, next me... or in the car next to me or next to me wherever I happen to be.
However, right out front there's an unfinished planter that I can see when sitting at my desk. Because of the shape, we've always called it the teardrop planter.
How fitting, I thought.
It sits in the midst of four trees. Two are large pecan trees that have been here for decades - long before we showed up. The other two are mulberry trees we planted last year. The design is big enough to bury our old girl and plant a tree as a sort of marker or tombstone.
After discussing it a bit, we decided that the planter was probably best, so I started working on it. My efforts were both painful and therapeutic. And, as I tore out weeds, cleared fallen branches, raked back woodchips and shoveled soil into a wheelbarrow, I was struck by the luxury of what I was doing.
That's not really a thought you expect at a time like that. But if we're seeking to be grateful, it makes sense. And we should always seek to be grateful.
In the US, as well as many other countries, we take for granted the luxury of having a dog as a pet. It's just part of our culture. But it's atypical in many ways. So, as I pondered this, it occurred to me that I'm incredibly blessed to have a life of so little real adversity that I can plan and weep for Joogsie.
Some may remember my series on La Gonave, Haiti. My visit there was in the fall of 2015. I'd seen poverty in my life, but nothing like what I witnessed there. And, while there were dogs around, I can't recall seeing one that was kept as a pet. Many of those I met didn't know where tomorrow's meals would come from. They were happy to have four walls with a tin roof over their heads.
Our house is nothing special. It's a little old fixer upper. But it's sound, has electricity, gas and air conditioning. We have a refrigerator that's usually overstocked as well as a full pantry. Our running water is actually drinkable and we've become so accustomed to the sewage running underground that we don't even consider for one second the problems that can arise from sewage pollution.
So, in the midst of our struggles, which are real enough if not nearly as severe as others face, God blessed me with a time of reflection and gratitude. As tears well up, I can truly say I'm thankful. We've been able to give this wonderful animal, 125 pounds of living flesh, a home with safety, food and love. And we've received so many blessings from her in return, from protection to companionship to the simple comforts that come with being able to snuggle with our precious friend.
What are the blessings you're taking for granted? Perhaps your health, the roof over your head, the dozen or so meals you always have available in your home? Take a moment to look around. If your family is healthy, your neighbors a pain in the butt but not threatening, you have a roof over your head, each meal brings the challenge of actually choosing what you'll eat and you can pick from several outfits for the day, you're already in the lap of luxury.
So, as many in the world face war, famine, natural disasters and other forms of life altering/threatening adversity, I have been blessed to weep for a dog. And, now that we're moving toward healing and perhaps many more years with Joogsie, as future adversity comes will I remember this precious time of gratitude in the privilege of weeping for a dog?
May my heart be soft and always grateful to the God who gives all things.