I have been pondering whether I should write this or not. To some it will seem as pointless musings of a nostalgic fool, mourning the loss of something easily replaceable, a dog. To others you understand – it’s not just an expense… an animal you had to feed, clean up after and care for, it is a member of the family.
Seven and a half years ago we called Rapid City, South Dakota home. We were happy there. We were watching another school year come to a close and looking forward to the summer. One day at the church/school there was a Golden Retriever making fiends with the kids. She was well groomed and quite gentle “she must have an owner” I thought. Well long story short, she did – we reunited her with her family and they were very grateful! They offered to give Caleb, who was 12 at the time, a reward for taking such good care of their dog, which by the way they never did, but no bitterness here.
I had a very hurt young man on my hands. I knew full well, because my son is so very much like his father, a Golden Retriever in nature (Gary Smalley came up with a personality identification system that used animals – Lion, Otter, Beaver and Golden Retriever – Retrievers are sensitive, loyal, non-demanding, avoid confrontations, enjoy routine, warm and relational, though few deep friends, sympathetic, thoughtful, good listeners and peacemakers) and I was about his age with I got my Golden Retriever, Nugget. I realize the irony abounds, but hey that’s our lives.
So we began a search for a replacement for our foster dog. In June of that year we found a breeder in Murdo, South Dakota. Now for those of you unaware… Murdo is about 140 miles from Rapid City, has a population of just under 500 and is hometown of Senator John Thune, so… my bride and my boy set off on a grand adventure, about 5 hours later they retuned with Autumn Madeline Christian, yes we all have M middle names, even the dogs.
Maddie quickly captured all of our hearts. Two great puppy stories that stand out, one when she got her head stuck in a hamster ball (you really should ask to see the picture she looks like an astronaut) and two, when we were on vacation she ate a Bible from off of the back of the toilet.
Eating things she shouldn’t have would actually be her downfall. December 30th 2011 she ate 2 sealed bags of dark chocolate from off of our kitchen counter and a short 24 hours later she was gone. If you didn’t know that – dog owners put that in your files and BTW hydrogen peroxide is a great and safe purge agent, remember that too. We have kicked ourselves for things we should have done differently, I don’t wish that for anyone.
Well between South Dakota and New Years Eve 2011. Maddie brought much joy to the Christian Family. She was a constant friend to my kids though 2 major moves, from South Dakota to Southern Indiana and from Southern Indiana to New Orleans. She really was Caleb’s best friend. Remember the afore mentioned trait of – few close friends? Caleb had a great friend in South Dakota and until recently had not had another one, even close and thankfully his new friend was spending the night Maddie passed on, God’s mercies once again.
Maddie was my running buddy. When I was trying to gain some shape, other than round, she was my four-legged coach. At first making me go far faster and farther than I had hoped then after several months we reversed roles but she loved every minute of it and so did I! She would try to talk to you – I know that sound nuts but she would look at you with her big brown eyes and make this Chewbacca sound. I loved that dog, for what she meant to my family and to me.
I have shed several tears since Friday night and I’m sure I’ll shed several more. I write this not really even for anyone to read, but more so for my own catharsis. I really believe God gives us animals to tend to as a gift of His grace. That might sound nuts for some of you but consider this…
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
So if you read this… pray for two boys, a father and a son, both grieving the loss of a great friend.