Monday, January 17, 2011

Saying Goodbye to the Family Dog

Our dog died this past Saturday.

She had been sick with kidney disease for a few years now. It was well controlled with medicine for a while, but she'd been doing a bit worse lately. Even so, her death was pretty unexpected as she was still running around, barking at the mail lady just the day before.

She was a member of our family. The first baby for my husband and me. The first other being the two of us cared for together as a team before the real babies came along.

My kids have all grown up with her, never known life without having a furry dog named Isabella. Many times when they woke up crying in the night as babies or sick children, I'd stumble sleepily to their bedsides and then hear her come in the room seconds after me, the worried nurse also waking up to tend to the children.

As they made their first attempts at crawling and walking, she was right there, usually very noticeable in the background of those milestone pictures.

Each of my three learned at young ages not to leave a snack unattended because Isabella would help herself! And any food spills were never a worry, we'd just call in the dog and she'd lick the floor (or table sometimes) clean!

Isabella was very fearful of strangers and pretty much most people outside our family of 5, (I attribute it to the fact that I rescued her at the age of 4 months old, just beyond the window of key socialization age for puppies, but maybe that was just Isabella's neurosis, we all have them, right?) but for any of her faults, I always had to praise the fact that never once was she anything but kind and gentle to my kids, a super dog to see them through their baby and toddler years.

My husband and I have dreaded this event, her death, and hoped to have a couple more years before dealing with it. But, death is part of this life here on earth and we recognized the opportunity to model for our kids how to deal with loss.

We cried, we hugged, we talked as a family about what we liked about her and what we'd miss. And the kids immediately wanted to know, "Can we get another dog?" So we talked about that, too. About how we will get another dog some time (not exactly sure when) and the joy that they'll get to experience helping to pick out the new dog and train it to be a member of our family, about how fun it will be to play with a dog that is younger and more playful than Isabella was in her senior years.

Then they had questions about death in general and heaven and we shared with them truth from the Bible about how much God loves them and that His word says heaven is going to be better than anything we could even imagine. Even after we'd tucked them into bed, the 7 year old couldn't sleep, kept coming down with more questions, worries.

We assured him that he didn't need to worry about dying because as believers in Jesus when we die here on earth we go on to eternal life in heaven with Jesus where there is no more pain or sadness. Rev. 21:4 says, "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

And after tucking him back into bed, my husband looked at me and asked, "What do atheists tell their children?"

Just that when you die, that's it? I have no idea.

We are especially grateful for His promises right now.

Isabella is missed. The house feels so quiet, which is funny considering we still have 3 loud kids, but going from 6 lives to 5 here under this roof is a loss.

So many ways she was part of our life. I have no idea how I'll bear to do my Shred workout again knowing she won't be trying to lick my face while I lie on the floor for the ab parts or the "Superman". I always shoed her away not wanting the dog breath or the interference during the toughest parts of the work-out, but oh, how I'll miss it now!

I think we're leaning towards getting a new dog sooner rather than later, so stay tuned! And if you hear of any friendly, cute, calm, playful, obedient, non-shedding dogs or puppies who are experts at vacuuming stray food off the floor and in need of a home, send them our way!

Isabella, we're grateful to have had you a part of our lives!

And finally, Isabella the day she stole the hot dog buns:

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  1. Oh I am soo sorry to hear about this...losing a beloved pet is ALWAYS a hard lesson. HUGS

  2. So sorry to hear this - we never have enough time with them, do we? And I know that empty house feeling all too well. Three years ago (already? wow...) our dogs died within 6 weeks of each other.

    After Gatsby died, we kept going to do dog things - like feed him and let him out. We lasted a week before having a new dog in the first I had a twinge of guilt that getting another dog so soon was brushing off Phineas and Gatsby as if they could just be replaced, but I really think it meant that they were so important to us and our daily lives, that their absence was too uncomfortable, and while our little Hesper could not replace them, she honoured their memory and the very important role of dog in our household, established by our first two boys.

  3. Precious, precious pictures that you will look at again and again...such wonderful memories for all!

  4. I am so so so sorry for your loss!! we just lost our sweet pup in December & feel your pain.

  5. I am so sorry : ( we had a cat that we had not even had that long die over a year ago and my kids will still cry about it sometimes

  6. So sorry :( I dread this day in my family. Prayers to you!

  7. Pets are such a precious addition to a family. So sorry for your loss.

  8. sorry to hear about your families loss. a great dog is a very special thing.

    God bless~

  9. We too are nearing this same dreadful event, but perhaps we will be blessed with a couple more years of my ever faithful companion. You will know the right time to look for another pet - perhaps it will be when you start to notice just how much your dog ate off the floor! When we were on vacation at my parents we could not bring our dogs with us and I was amazed at how messy my kids are when they eat, but I never noticed because of our precious furry vaccuums!!!

    My heart is breaking for you and your family, our pets are truly members of our family and it is a huge loss. (((hugs)))


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