It’s amazing the way pets weave themselves into our hearts. One day a fuzzy little ball of fur with a hyperactive tail enters our lives and next thing you know, it’s declared itself part of the family. Molly was that way. She joined our family about 17 years ago, a part-Chihuahua, part-terrier puppy, a wagging, bouncing bundle of life.
Alas, 17 in dog years is nearly forever, and a few weeks ago we knew Molly’s tenure on earth was coming to an end. Over the past year she had lost what the French call “joie de vivre,” the hearty and carefree enjoyment of life most dogs manifest. The house-training lessons she had learned so well were often forgotten. Her almost non-stop sleeping was interrupted only by brief trips outside, quick munches on a biscuit or wet food wrapped around medication, or occasionally wandering around the house, as if trying to remember something she had forgotten. And going up and downstairs had become difficult with balky hind legs.
So rather than waiting to see her in obvious distress, and after consulting with our veterinarian and some online research, we regretfully concluded, “It’s time.” With sedation preceding the euthanizing drug, Molly’s passing was peaceful – and tearful for us. Mostly mine, since I’m the one whose eyes water during romantic comedies. Even knowing it was the proper, humane thing to do, saying good-bye to a beloved old friend is never easy.
In the biblical creation account, God declared, “It’s not good for that man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18), so He created animals to become Adam’s companions (before deciding Eve was a better solution). It doesn’t say God introduced canines into the biological mix at that point, but I suspect He did, in part because some of the positive traits we see in dogs reflect the Lord’s attributes – and qualities He desires to see in us.
Things like faithfulness. Trust. Patience. Devotion. Steadfastness. Unconditional love. Recently I read a suggestion that if you want to see whether your spouse or your dog loves you more, put them both in the trunk of your car and close it. Then see how each responds when you reopen the trunk 15 minutes later.
We could leave Molly alone in the house for hours at a time, and when we returned home she was there with tail going 60 miles an hour, bouncing up and down, ready to go out and then come back in to play – or chomp on a biscuit. I don’t recall her once asking, “I wonder if these guys are going to feed me today?” or “What’s taking them so long?” Her faith and trust in us, deserved or not, was absolute. If only our confidence in God were so complete.
As with anything else we experience in life, Molly wasn’t all fun without any frustration. I won’t miss recent months of getting out of bed around 3 every morning to take her out before she went on the floor. For a short-haired dog, Molly managed to shed lots of hair year-round. She could turn any T-shirt into a dog-hair sweater in seconds. And to be honest, it will be a relief planning to travel without needing to ask, “What are we going to do with the dog?” But like all good pooches, Molly’s plusses far outnumbered her minuses.
After our vet had put Molly to sleep, I was reading in Proverbs and came across a familiar verse: “Where no oxen are, the trough is clean; but much increase comes by the strength of the ox” (Proverbs 14:4). In other words, to get the results you want, you must be willing to put up with some messes. That passage could be adapted for canines: Where no dogs are, the house is clean; but much joy comes from the wag of a dog’s tail.
Today the doggie hairs Molly had strewn so lavishly around the house have been swept up. Her food and water bowls have been stored away, maybe for future use. But not soon. And the tennis balls she enjoyed playing with now lie still, no longer her toys of pursuit. But Molly’s memory will remain wrapped around our hearts forever.
James 1:17 states, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” For us, Molly was one of those good and perfect gifts from above, perhaps God’s way of saying, “Enjoy this loving little friend. And learn some things about Me in the process.” And for that we’re extremely grateful.