January 19, 2012

...a little sadness in our lives...

This guy is my pal. A big, noble German Shepherd who never grew to be as big as his feet portended.

He lost his best friend this week. The dog we called his uncle, Andrew, was sent off to the doggy fields of doggy heaven. He was failing badly in a battle with a couple of cancers and when he could no longer move or get a good breath, my mom, his person, had to make the hard decision to let him go.

All of us were taken by Andrew. His love was huge and he had an uncanny ability to understand and respond to hundreds of words, which allowed him access to places and people a lot of dogs would never see or know. He went to church with Mom all the time. Not just on Sunday, but to her after school ministry program where he helped teach 4th graders, who would sit quietly and wait for their turn to pet or hug him, to her seniors group and to the massive week called VBS where over 300 kids gather.

I get that choking tear each time I think about the hundreds of kids who knew my mom and called her "Grama" because of how the two of them, Grama and Andrew, traveled, worked and loved as a team.

Andrew was not spared the humility of dressing up for every holiday and each "crazy day" at Vacation Bible School. He attended every Keenagers meeting to get treats and give kisses, especially when it involved the ladies. He visited an ailing friend from the group when at 98 she was failing in her senior citizen home. He sat at her side, she with her hand on him, knowing deep inside that he was there for her. She later told him so.

Our boy waited at the window any time we uttered the happy words, "Go watch for Grama and Andrew." The two dogs would nuzzle and sniff and run to the yard for what in earlier years was hard play and in recent years was just a walk around. My Max would try to get some tug of war or chase going, but Andrew wasn't really up for too much of that. He didn't make it here at Christmastime. He'd begun to refuse the ramp Mom bought for the backseat of her car. Falling once when his skinny leg missed the platform was enough for him. So, the longer goodbye started a couple of months ago.

Mom's house is quiet for a while. There's another companion dog in the wings, but she needs a while to restore and to grieve her best pal (we're with her). She's going to miss the dog who got her up if she was thinking about sleeping in, and went to bed at 10:30 with or without her. Who walked the grocery store and went to church. The one who picked up anything she dropped, got his leash, put his head down to pray when others were doing so and just gave such an expression of love to those who really needed it.

We'll all miss him, this one of kind guy and we're holding our own pooch a little closer today as we recognize what a blessing it is to share our lives with a dog.

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