Our old dog is in his last days. We don't have long. One morning soon he's not going to make it down the stairs, even with our help. As we soak up our last few memories with a beloved friend, I realized that Shamu has a lot to teach me.
Shamu trusts our love.
He is a big dog, 163 pounds in his prime, and as is common for giant breeds Shamu is losing his mobility. I've had to walk down the stairs steadying his steps for some time. Now he is having trouble standing up. He tries, doesn't succeed, and so he begins to bark. BARK! BARK! BARK! I come over and he looks up into my eyes. The message is clear. "I've fallen and I can't get up, do something about it." So I wrap my arms around his middle and heave him up while he scrambles to rise. Then off he goes, confident that his people love him and if he is stuck, they will come when he barks.
Shamu values what is important.
When I pull up with the boys after school, Shamu hobbles out to the car. If the boy's don't emerge from our vehicle in a prompt fashion he shuffles down the stairs and snuffles at the doors and windows until they tumble out and give him a pat. When he was younger our dog was all about playing fetch and swimming in the pond and eating squirrels. Now, in his golden years, Shamu is all about his family.
Shamu is faithful
Why don't we find some nice downstairs place for our dog so that he won't have to hobble up the stairs to our upstairs apartment? We have, but it didn't work. I put his food, water, and sleeping bag bed downstairs by our neighbor's door. But Shamu just wants to be with us. Even though scrambling up the stairs is a struggle every time and I've caught him looking up at the stairway and heaving a great sigh, the pain is worth it to Shamu. He doesn't do much once he finally arrives. Just stretches out in the living room and sleeps for hours and hours. But he is with us and that makes him happy. Our old dog is faithful. All he wants in the world is to be in the same room as his family.
I wonder if God was a little wistful when he was making the grey wolf. He knew we wouldn't be able to resist them. He knew that these animals with their deep sense of pack and working together would be pampered and fed and turned into the hairy companions that we enjoy today. I wonder if He wished that we would end up a little bit more like our dogs? A little more trusting. Value the important things in life with a little more focus. Be a little more faithful.
But I suppose He knew what they would become to us and He knew that if we would open our eyes we could learn all of those things from the wonderful animals that He saw fit to have walk among us.
Thank you Lord for my dog. Help me to learn from him, become a little more like him in the time we have left (minus the awful smells) and therefore grow a little bit more like you.