Friday, October 28, 2005

A long goodbye

We received some good news this week. Hannibal, our beloved 12-year old Lab/Golden Retriever mix, is not as near death as we thought he might be. The vet told us he had about 6 months to go in April, and he is noticeably thinner, but she said he looks pretty good, all things considered. But even in the midst of the good news, I managed to find a negative. I began to think that he might die in the winter, which will greatly complicate our plans for his final resting place. I can't dig a hole in frozen ground very easily.

God forgive me. Here I am worrying about how this will inconvenience me as a rush to say goodbye to someone who has selflessly given himself to me for so long. He has been the best dog we could have hoped for since his days as a little furball chewing machine through our children growing up and beating on him and now in his golden years the stiff movements and confusion that seems to be setting in.

I know he is a dog, not a person. But we can learn a lot about grieving, love, suffering and friendship from our pets. Sometimes I have to carry him up stairs or pick him up when his hips give out. I have to entice him to eat by changing up foods, adding special treats and other things because he is losing weight so rapidly. But I owe him that.

He has been our ever-present companion for years. He protected my wife when she was pregnant, guarded the kids, played with the neighbors and kept the squirrels off of the pumpkins on our porch. He was always ready to play, tolerated us dogsitting for friends, and traveled from South Dakota to Michigan several times.

It's hard to watch him go slowly. But his quality of life is still pretty decent. And I keep reminding myself it is not about me. It's about me serving another. It's about compassion and love, not scheduling.

Pray for me. This is a life lesson I need to learn. It won't be the last time I lose a friend and loved one.

No comments: