Today, we had to let our dog go.
I have never been an animal lover. In fact, we've had pretty bad luck with canine's, in general, since tying the knot ten years ago. I'd much rather raise a bunch of humans than animals. But since I already do raise a bunch of humans, having an extra creature to care for, in the form of a needy dog, is and wasn't my first choice. Chickens, I can do chickens. Lizards, I can do some lizards. Maybe even a hamster or a rabbit would be a little less "hands on". But if it was legal to have a pet giraffe, I totally would. I love giraffes. Dogs...are just needy. And I have enough things that "need" me around here.
This dog, in particular, kinda/sorta came with the house purchase a year ago.
She was this huge, massive, friendly, stubborn but sweet thing.
And our oldest, well, he fell hard for her.
She reminded me sometimes of a more docile "Beethoven". I put out a kiddie pool last summer, she jumped right in and took up the entire space. The little toddler girls were left screaming and crying and covered in "dog water". She wouldn't.get.out.
She wouldn't miss a beat if there was an outdoor picnic lunch or a cookout. She'd help herself to any plate within her eye level and she always went for the most vulnerable victim first, our two-year-old daughters plate. I can't count the number of times I've sent the little ones outside to eat their paper plated lunches and hear a deafening scream come from the backyard mere seconds after Miss Olivia emerged from the safety of the house. She was always left with an empty, somewhat soggy white circle in her hand and a face full of tears. Robbed, of yet, another meal.
This week, after weeks of discussing potentially letting her go, I noticed her health take a big turn.
She struggled so much this week to breathe, and was the most lazy I've seen her. I knew, without a doubt, that her time left was short. She may have lasted the rest of the summer, but even then, it would've been a summer of suffering. I'm sure it's not easy being a 100lb. dog with jet black fur in a NC summer. I didn't think it was fair to make her suffer thru it just so we could delay our sadness.
I think sometimes, life gives us seasons of just difficult choices and roads. This season, has been particularly trying, and, of course, this just adds to it. Not so much for my own sadness, but for the sadness of my children. I think it's good for us to be honest and candid and open about such life events. Death is as much a part of life as breathing, eating, and paying bills. It's just a part of the journey. We didn't sugar coat it with our children. Lexie isn't coming home.
Some choices we make because we "go with our gut". Some choices are just black and white. Some choices we may just "rock-paper-scissors" it for the answer. And then some, well, some are just plain hard. We wrestle. We make a choice. We rethink. We choose the other thing anyway. And then, we may change our minds again. (Enter regret here.)
No matter what we choose, the fact that we have the God-given ability to make choices and to be an active participant in our journey, is a gift. Our dog was an unexpected gift. There were days when I didn't consider using the word "gift" to describe her. One, more recent day being when she killed one of our, then, six week old chicks.
She taught us a lot, though. She taught my children how to care for and love one of God's greatest creations. She gave my eight year old son a furry best friend. She taught us how to practice patience when she would simply lie down on her side when you asked her to "come".
I hope someday, if dogs, in fact, do all go to heaven, that she will greet us there. My eight-year-old is already convinced that they do, and that he will see his best buddy again someday. Maybe so...until then, may we always remember that sometimes the best choice still leaves us with a broken heart. And tonight, we have seven broken hearts.