THE GIFT OF GOD; THE GIFT OF DOG
In 2003 I was placed in a situation of grave danger. There was a threatening individual in my life and my family and I faced very frightening times. I was unable to sleep, eat or function normally as I had become paralyzed by fear and thrown into a situation of trauma. My husband and I agreed that we needed to acquire a trained K9 protection dog, and we did. His real name I will conceal. For the purposes of this story, I will call him Samara, which means Protected by God; and that is what Samara did. He became my guardian in the night, my companion by day and a daily reminder that God would protect our family against all odds. He went everywhere with me; in the car, to the store; I even brought him to church. My pastor at the time was not much of a dog person, but he loved me, therefore he loved my dog; all ninety pounds of him. (As a side note, years later my pastor friend got a dog that changed his life forever. Dogs have a way of doing that you know.)
So, back to Samara. For six years he did his job. He roamed the halls at night, watched the doors by day and gave us love and security that only a dedicated canine can do. He would snuggle next to me in the evening and just lay there for hours. He knew he had a job; to watch over me. And I loved him with all my heart. Time passed and the situation resolved itself. I was safe, and moving toward emotional and spiritual healing.
In September of 2009, Samara came into the house and looked out of sorts. He appeared bloated, was staggering back and forth and could hardly lift his hind legs to enter the door. I immediately drove to the vet in high anxiety. This was equivalent to driving a loved one to the ER. Samara had become a part of this family and especially a special guardian to me personally; he gave me back my life!
Blood was drawn, x-rays taken and an evaluation complete. Dr. P. entered the room with x-rays in hand and from what I perceived, a heavy heart. “We found something on the x-rays indicating there is a ruptured spleen and internal bleeding. We can try to operate however, even if Samara were to miraculously survive, he may only have a month to live and he would be in pain.” As I recall this story, even many years later, I type through my tears in remembrance of this dog who brought so much comfort into my life. As I waited for my husband and daughter to meet me at the vet for the inevitable, I decided to drive to a nearby bakery. I know, butter cream cookies could not fix anything, but somehow it was all I could think to do. Samara had not eaten in over 24-hours but somehow showed an interest in the cookies. So there he and I sat, eating butter cookies with multi-colored sprinkles. Through tears and prayers we waited. My husband called to let me know he was on his way and when he learned that I was feeding the dog cookies he said, “You don’t want to give him cookies they might make him sick.” I replied, “Honey, in a few hours Samara will be gone. He can have whatever he wants.” As I sat in that van, my heart ached terribly and I was reduced to heaving cries of sorrow. In was in that moment that the Lord spoke to my heart saying, “Samara was acquired out of fear. He has done his job, he has protected you and given you the strength to walk in confidence and safety again. His time has now come. As much as you love him, when you see him you are reminded of the fear and pain you once knew. It is time now for you to move on so that you can complete this journey to full recovery and replace mourning with joy.”
It was Wednesday, October 28th 2009. The vet gave Samara a shot to calm him and then left the room. I got down on that hair covered floor and lay next to Samara. It was time to say goodbye to my furry friend. His beautiful eyes looked deeply into mine as if to say, “It’s OK now. You’re going to be alright.” Even in death Samara seemed to be protecting me, reassuring me that the best was yet to come. His eyes were gentle and kind; those penetrating eyes I had looked into for the past six years. We shared a connection that held us captive for what seemed like hours; and I thanked him. I thanked him for giving me back my life. For making me laugh again, hope again and smile at each new day. I lay on the floor stroking his head, gently caressing around his eyes until he finally slipped into a peaceful sleep. Strange as it sounds I remembered Job’s words, “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” Even in my deep sorrow, I thanked the Lord for loving me so much to have allowed this special creation of His hand to be a part of my life, my healing and His divine plan.
Do all dogs go to heaven? I don’t know. Scripture does not speak to this directly, but this I do know; The Lord God sent a dog into my life to carry me over a bridge I was unable to cross on my own. He used that dog to teach me about trust, letting go of fear, seeing beyond what seemed impossible circumstances; and in His sovereignty the Lord wrapped it all up into a furry ball of unconditional love.
We serve a God of great compassion. A God who cares for the tiny sparrows that fly just as much as He cares for His created children. Our Creator is the keeper of all creation, humans and animals alike. Nothing and no one is ever out of His care. Are dog’s people? Of course not. Are they a unique creation of God to be loved, cared for and enjoyed as a gift from the hand of the Almighty? I think “yes.”
Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
your justice like the great deep.
You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
Jeanine M Weintz
March 8th 2016