..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Zoe's Gone: On the Death of a Pet

Zoe is gone. Gone to heaven I hope, I trust.
Although thank God that He lets dogs into
heaven "carte blanche" or I would worry.
Many times, exasperated by her behaviour,
I would tell her that she needed to become
a Christian. :) I always felt that
she looked back and told me the same thing.
The way things are, what life is, and why we
are here, were, most likely, self-evident to her,
hardwired into her DNA, and she had made her
peace with them long before I.

She was the most amazing dog: Wild.
Stubborn. Self-determined. People would
often ask me if I was walking a
hyena. I often wondered that myself.
She came into my life because she was
destined to: I wouldn't have chosen her, and
yet, she shared the formation and
journey of a good part of my adult years.
Truly a gift from God, I shall never
forget her.

For years our wills collided on every
issue: from where she would sleep to
how much room she would take up on
the couch, and who would make the
final decisions in matters of everyday
life. Several years ago she finally granted
much of that power to me and I felt I
had received an incredible compliment.

Today, I made the final decision for
her: the hardest one a pet owner can
make, to send her on her journey to
whatever comes next. She was tired
and worn out, with a great hump on her
back, a hump that came because of her
wildness, and rivaled that of the Hunchback of
Notre Dame.

It is a cold, windy, day, sunny with
the hint of spring. Zoe made it through
the cold, hard, icy winter. She hung
on while I was away all of last month.
I watched, helplessly, as the life
left her body. Wondered, as we all
do in these moments, about God and
life and all that is, and all
that is not.

I trust she is happily in a better
place: without pain, and with the
energy and enthusiasm of a young
pup. I trust she is obeying the
Lord. ;)

These tough moments strip life bare,
down to their most basic elements:
why are we here? what is life?
is there a God? does life continue
after we die?

Our faith, as Christians, tells
us many things and at these tough
moments of loss we are forced to
make decisions about life, for
that is what is left to us: choices.

Zoe's philosophy of life was
"Be who you are and carry on
in the face of adversity."
She has been an inspiration.
I would, however, add something to
her philosophy. "Be who you are,
live unto God, live each moment
with an eternal view, even when
adversity continually pounds.
Let life soften you and not
harden you."

For life will pound each of us relent-
lessly, probably to see what will
come out! We have no choice but
to make hard decisions about life and God.
Something deep in our hearts tells
us that all is well, that God
exists and runs the universe
by His Goodness, despite the
ravages of sin and death that
have wrought deep havoc upon
the earth and all its inhabitants.

When life deals us its hard
blows then we can and must decide
to live as if there is a good God:
to pour out compassion; to love freely;
to give abundantly; to hope;
to dance in the face of pain;
to push back the dastardly blows
of loss and death with faith, hope,
peace, love and kindness.

Any other response will harden
us and eventually kill us with
a fate worse than physical death.

Crossing the thin line between
life and death will reveal
the final answer to the
mystery of life. It is a moment
of truth that we all will face.
There is only one good way to
prepare for that moment: I ask you to
think about, to pray about
who you will be when that
moment comes. I believe there is a God
and that all our choices matter.
Choose wisely.


Bob Estes said...

I recently dealt with a pet death, which I wrote about on my blog. A guinea pig is not a companion the way a dog is, so I won't even speculate on such an animal surviving death in any way. I did pray for our guinea pig though, and I felt the prayer was answered. Too long to go into here, but the blog has the story. Thanks for sharing your story. I'll just leave the question of what happens to animals after death as something I hope to learn in time.

The Pen of The Wayfarer said...

thanks, Bob. No matter how small, our pets touch our hearts. God made all of us, furred or smooth-
skinned, or scaled! I trust that, in the goodness of His plan, we shall not be disappointed in our hope that our animal companions enjoy a safe and lovely place past death. So many have suffered at the hands of humans. Life is a gift! We all have much to learn!