I remember the day we brought you home. It's like it was just yesterday. You were so tiny, so cute. I remember the potty training, the chewing, the whining and crying. You slept on my leg as a puppy, and still on my lap when you got to 60-some pounds. Oh, and that "puppy breath". I loved all of it.
And I will now sadly miss all of it.
As you got older, you became my jogging companion. We logged a lot of miles together -- on the streets and through the woods. I remember when some old lady scolded me for taking you running with me...but you led the way, pulling me, and were probably in better shape than me.
The trait I will miss most, however, is your constant face-licking and tail-wagging. In fact, if my face was a lolly-pop, you would have reached the middle in no time. I found it annoying a lot of times, but now I wish I would have let you do it more. All the face-licking earned you a very special place in my heart.
Last night, I lay on your dog bed right next to you and cried. I wept because I knew we would have to take you to Dr. Gaide and put you down. I wept bitterly, but you licked all those tears off my face anyway. I doubt you knew why, but it didn't seem to matter to you. I simply let you lick and lick and lick. I knew I was going to miss it. I hated the thought of you not being there to "fwap" your tail on things when I got home from work. I hate the thought of you not greeting me any more.
1) FRIENDLINESS: I need to be more friendly to people, and show them I care. You didn't pick and choose who you let pet you. It was all good to you.
But for some reason, I'm highly selective. I should double-check my motivations and make sure I am not friends only with those who can benefit me. I have a suspicion that one day I'll wish I had been more friendly to the friendless, yet I doubt I'll ever wish I hadn't been so friendly. I will try harder to be more Christ-like and be a friend to the friendly, the unfriendly, and the friendless. Thank you, Hannah-dog.
2) COMPASSION: I can't remember how many times I cried over various life-issues, and you were there to lend a comforting presence to me. You just laid your head on my lap, somehow knowing that I was hurting. Funny thing is, you never had to say a word. But it worked. Even this morning on the trip to the vet, you quietly laid your head next to my leg as I cried. I'm not sure you knew what was about to transpire, but your presence seemed to suggest, "It's all good, friend."
When people hurt, it matters. No matter how big or how trivial the issue may appear to me, their hurting is significant. I need to be more Christ-like and hurt with them; pity them; grieve with them. I have a co-worker who had to bury his 6-year old daughter at Christmas. How horribly tragic. I cannot imagine coming home to an empty seat at the dinner table every day. It's bad enough coming home to a now-empty garage. Thank you, Hannah-dog.
3) HAPPINESS: You wagged and licked just at the mere sighting of a friendly face. You were always so happy. Every time the UPS driver came to the house, you would climb into his cab, hoping for a treat. He'd pet you, you'd wag your tail, and run off to a shaded tree to eat the treat he gave you. I could always tell when you were "smiling" -- you just had that look on your jowls.
I will not be afraid to show my pleasure in people and events. When people are happy, I will celebrate with them! I will celebrate the good things God has given us, and the blessings He gives. Why should I be timid when showing great delight? Thank you, Hannah-dog.
4) FORGIVENESS: It didn't matter if I scolded you for something -- whether you deserved it or not. You had a way with forgetting all about it just a few minutes later and licked my face in pleasure, showing me that I was still your friend.
Sometimes, I like to hold onto memories of past hurts. I know I need to forgive and put past hurts where they rightfully belong -- in the past. God forgave me even while I was the worst of sinners. And today, I'm a friend of God, and He continues to forgive when I fail. I will work to be more forgiving. Thank you, Hannah-dog.
5) COMPLAINING: I remember the time you chased after a ball and (as we would find out the next day) you got stabbed in the "armpit" by a stick. It was a deep gouge and you were favoring that leg all day. I didn't understand why, so I finally looked and saw the deep puncture wound. You didn't whine, cry, or complain. You just chased the ball -- albeit with a limp.
I, on the other hand, cry and whine and complain when I have a simple head cold. When I'm miserable, I want others to know, and I want others to share in my misery. I have friends in worse condition than me, and they live with a smile on their faces. I love that! I read a book by a Navy Seal who said their motto is, "Suffer in silence". I would do well to practice that more often. Thank you, Hannah-dog.
THANK YOU FOR BEING MY FRIEND, HANNAH-DOG. I WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER YOU.