But God, who comforts the depressed, comforted us by the coming of Titus. —II Corinthians 7:6 (NAS)
I’m rather stoic when faced with human tragedy, but with animals I’m emotionally about six years old. When the lupus that had attacked our beloved Red Dog grew suddenly worse, I started to grieve.
The dog had literally walked into our yard and our lives ten years ago. Incredibly intelligent and loyal, all the part-chow wanted was to be close to my husband Gene and me — touching us. Our veterinarian had recommended that we take her to the University of Georgia School of Veterinary Medicine. The doctors there made photographs because of the rarity of the form of lupus Red Dog had. She posed willingly, wagging her bushy tail.Her medications were enormously complicated and powerful.
After a while they caused severe side effects. One day, after a year of declining health, Red Dog suddenly had trouble breathing and wouldn’t get up. Gene and I took her to our vet immediately. Words hurt too much, so mostly we talked with our eyes. For that last visit, our vet prepared a large, clean pink blanket in the corner of a familiar examining room and her assistant gently placed Red Dog on it. The four of us on the floor surrounding Red didn’t attempt to control our tears.
Late that afternoon back at home, grief held me tightly. Then a delivery of spring flowers arrived. The card read, “We all loved Red Dog, too. We care deeply. Everyone at Piedmont Animal Clinic.” Shortly after that, our pastor, his wife, their two children and their small dog came to sit with us. Early the next morning, a huge blue hydrangea arrived from my daughter. The card said, “Here’s to Red Dog. Love, Julie.” The flowers and the company didn’t make the pain go away. But the knowledge that someone cared made it easier to bear.
Lord, when someone cares—no matter what the loss—grief’s hold is diminished. Show me how to care. —Marion Bond West
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