Just a dog

As of this writing, our dog, Lucas, has been gone for 24 hours. It was something that we said needed to be done, his health was failing and he was in obvious distress whenever he moved. It was the right thing to do. So we tell ourselves.

As I turned over this decision in my mind, my heart kept interrupting. Just give me another day, another hour, just to spend some more time with him. Even now my heart reminds me, “it wasn’t that bad, was it? Couldn’t he have lasted one more week?” Maybe he could have. His condition wasn’t emergent.

Lucas had been gradually deteriorating over the last few months. The vet said there was nothing she could do to stop it. It was some kind of nerve or muscular issue that I didn’t understand. It just was, and he wasn’t getting any better. So, yesterday, after a couple of months of this, we decided it was time, and my wife took him to the vet to be put down. That was yesterday.

And now, there is a hole in our lives. We’d only had him for nine years. But each of us had our own memories of him. My daughter had painted of picture of him in high school. My other daughter spoke a special language to him. My oldest son enjoyed having him around. My wife and I considered our furry child.

I am reminded of the line from the third hobbit movie, when the elf-girl is mourning the death of Kili, a dwarf. She cries out and says, “why does this hurt so much?” To which the elf-king standing beside her replies, “because it was real.” Lucas was just a dog. I have stood at the bedside of many patients and watched their numbers drop to zero. I have witnessed several such deaths. It is never easy, but then again, it was never personal. Lucas wasn’t just a dog, he was mine.

And this is where I find myself today, in mourning for a four-legged rescue who lived the best days of his life with us. I went home yesterday just to pet him, and tell him he is a good boy, and that he could rest now. I treasure that memory, just as all the others I have of him.

My grief bubbles just under the surface. I noted that for lunch, “hot dog” was on the menu. Never before did that mean as much, or bring to mind what I was feeling. I see commercials of people with their dogs. It hurts. It is a pain that is deep inside and it occasionally erupts in tears.

I don’t have any profound of groundbreaking to say here, and I know I am not adding anything to the conversation. My loss isn’t any greater that what others have suffered, especially with COVID. But I needed to say something. Lucas will always be a part of our lives. His absence is palpable. Thank you Lord for sharing him with us.

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I've been in ministry in the Christian Churches/ Churches of Christ for 20+ years. Finished my doctorate in Biblical Studies in 2015. Serve today as a Hospital Chaplain.

2 thoughts on “Just a dog”

  1. We are so sorry Aryn, Franny, Daniel, Amy, Abby, and David. After having our little Missey now little over a year, we are so attached and can’t imagine the many feelings you all are going through now. Prayers for you all and strength and comfort in the coming days. Love you all. Aunt Jaci & Uncle Mike


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