Wednesday, October 8, 2014

So Long, Dear Friend

It's amazing what the human heart is capable of.  We invite into our homes a member of another species.  We don't speak their language, and they don't speak ours.  Yet they enrich our daily lives, and when they're gone (and they always go too soon), we realize just how much love we hold for them.

I think love comes through service and sacrifice.  Jesus Christ loves us more than anyone, and he sacrificed all he had for us.  Parents love their children beyond words, because we give up everything for them.  When we sacrifice our time and means to care for pets, we grow to love them.  And together we learn a shared language of love.

And when they die, our hearts are ripped in two.  I've done a lot of hard things in my life, but I think making the choice to end my dear friend's life was the hardest one yet.

I got Meggie for my 14th birthday.  The previous week, my dog (although she was never really my dog, as she bonded closely with my dad) died unexpectedly at a young age.  I was so lonely, so my mom brought me to the shelter to see if there were any dogs there to adopt.  We tried one out, but she wasn't a good fit for our family, so the next day we brought her back to the shelter.  On the way home, I asked my mom if we could stop and see what the pet store had for dogs.  They had just gotten two new litters of puppies in: Meggie, her brother, and three little black puppies (pomeranians crossed with toy poodles).  I immediately fell for Meggie, so I decided that we'd go home and sleep on it and come back the next day to get her.  On the drive home, I thought of a name for her.  I knew she was meant to be my dog.

The next day, we went to see if she was still there.  Of all of the five dogs that were there the day before, only Meggie and one of the black puppies were left.  Someone was holding Meggie, and the moment they set her down, I snatched her up and brought her to the register.  I said, word for word, "This is my dog.  I mean, she's going to be my dog.  We're going to buy her."  So my mom bought her and gave her to me for my 14th birthday.

Meggie was the ugliest puppy you've ever seen.  Everyone said so.  But I just didn't see it.  I thought she was the cutest 4-legged creature to ever walk this earth, and everyone thought I was delusional.  Looking back, I can see she really had the looks that only a mother could love.  My love was so unconditional that I couldn't see it until many years later.

I spent 14 years and 7 months with Meggie.  That's over half of my life!  And the best, most memorable part of my life, too!  I started training her in 4-H when she was 4 months old.  She hated it.  I was a good dog trainer (my previous dog and I were winning awards), but Meggie refused to do what I asked.  She would protest a simple "sit" command.  She wouldn't come.  Sometimes she wouldn't even walk on the leash!  She started avoiding me on Thursday evenings when I would try to put her in the car to go to training practice.  Then I started bringing her to Therapy Dog instead.  She loved going to nursing homes to be pet by the residents.  It brought out her best qualities.  She started enthusiastically jumping in the car when she knew we were going to Therapy Dog.

I gave up on obedience training with her (she was a good house dog, but not a good competitive obedience dog), but I still did 4-H showmanship with her.  That's what I loved, and all she had to do was prance around and look pretty, which she was very good at once she outgrew her awkward stage.  We qualified for the state 4-H dog show many times, but I remember one time in particular.  It was just moments before entering the show ring, and I was full of nerves.  But I must have pulled it together really well, because we ended up winning Grand Champion!  We were the best in our age-group for the entire state!  It was incredible!

She stayed behind with my dad when I went off to college.  Once Nate and I graduated and bought a house of our own, my mom flew out here with Meggie.  Caleb was 4 months old, and had just been home from the NICU for one month.  She was a great kids' dog in her younger years.  She never jumped on people, never licked, never barked, and loved to follow kids around, waiting for them to drop their snacks on the floor so she could clean up after them.  She was the best for taking on walks.  We went for a long walk every morning during Caleb's first two years.

It was a really hard choice for me to have her put down.  I feel like that should be up to God and Meggie, but I just have to hope that she did choose this, and she just needed my help.  I got to hold her in my arms and comfort her while it happened.  It was perfect, yet so horrible.  I just wanted her to feel how much I loved her.  We grew up together.  Really, she was the first dog that I could claim as my own.  She was the first dog that my children ever knew, and I hope they can keep some fond memories of her.

I was once told by someone with great authority regarding strengths that my strength is my ability to love deeply.  I must say, it has been feeling like a weakness lately.  The pain I feel at Meggie's passing is so strong because my love for her was so strong.  This kind of love is what we live each day for, even though it has the potential to cause so much pain.  It was a glorious childhood that we had together, and I look forward to the day when my Meg greets me in Heaven in her wonderful way--running at top speed in giant circles while crying a happy little howl.  It will be a wonderful reunion.

No heaven will heaven be
if my dog's not there
to greet me.

1 comment:

Alice Anne said...

Anna, this was such a good post. SO SAD!!! But I loved learning more about your dog. Big sigh... I felt like the worst person in the world when I let go of my kitties. Your situation is different, but just saying... I can relate. It's heartbreaking to lose a family member like that.