“Such short little lives our pets have to spend with us, and they spend most of it waiting for us to come home each day. It is amazing how much love and laughter they bring into our lives and even how much closer we become with each other because of them.”
Marley and Me: Life and Love With the World's Worst Dog
“No matter how close we are to another person, few human relationships are as free from strife, disagreement, and frustration as is the relationship you have with a good dog. Few human beings give of themselves to another as a dog gives of itself. I also suspect that we cherish dogs because their unblemished souls make us wish - consciously or unconsciously - that we were as innocent as they are, and make us yearn for a place where innocence is universal and where the meanness, the betrayals, and the cruelties of this world are unknown.”
A Big Little Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog
“The dog is the most faithful of animals and would be much esteemed were it not so common. Our Lord God has made His greatest gifts the commonest.”
My heart dropped. I couldn’t be hearing this right.
Our sweet vet was trying to put it in the most kindly way possible.
“These things are really tricky…I know you’re probably already really attached to her….But…you really should return her.”
He proceeded to explain the medical technicalities of her condition. Bottom-line, she had a very, very bad heart and would not live long. I looked down at this plump, happy, black fur ball.
I sat in the car quite some time and couldn’t move. Chloe sat in my lap oblivious to her plight. My young kids were barely over grieving the loss of the last dog, and now this. Really?
The owner had sworn complete vetting and health of this puppy. We had had her for two weeks, and my kids already adored her.
I sighed heavily, sick to my stomach, and finally drove out of the parking lot.
Over the next few days I prayed. I talked to my husband. I called my best friends. I called my mom…I finally knew what we had to do. I gathered the kids.
“Chloe is not the most healthy…She probably won’t live as long as a lot of dogs. But…I think we should love on her as long as we have her. What do you think?”
It was official. Chloe was part of the family, and it was like she’d always been with us. An easy puppy as puppies go, she provided us with much laughter.
After we had her for several months, I decided to stop mixing wet food in with her dry; she threw the dry contents in her dish all over the laundry room floor and wouldn’t eat it. Then, she’d just lie there with it scattered around her and look at me for hours as if saying, “You have got to be kidding me.”
When she reached 125 pounds, she still hadn’t figured out that she wasn’t a lap dog. Occasionally we would indulge her, allowing her to sit there until we couldn’t breathe or our legs went numb.
We had more than one person mistake her for a bear. And many were terrified of her, just because of her size. One day there was a car parked in our driveway for quite some time. Finally I got a call. “Mam, could you please get your dog. I’m afraid your pizza’s getting cold.” I told him she is only a problem if you don’t like getting slobbery kisses and went and held her as he shakily extracted himself from his car.
Another day I was listening to phone messages: “Yes, this is Carol. I went to drop off your order, but….I know this is going to sound strange…I think there was a bear in your front yard!”
Another time we heard kids screaming, “A bear is chasing us!” as they frantically ran out of the tall weeds and cattails behind our house. Chloe lumbered out after in confusion looking at us like, “Why are they running away?!”
Chloe was a great companion. She kept me company during my daily walks—come rain or shine, even in Minnesota’s frigid sub-zero winters. And she was the most obedient dog I ever owned.
She loved pulling the kids around on their sleds or joining in on any mischief they were undertaking. She loved all children, and when you watch how Newfs are with kids, you realize why they are dubbed “gentle giants.” (Rightly so, the nanny dog in Peter Pan is a Newfoundland.)
In the summer, Chloe loved boat rides and fireworks and pretty much anything as long as she could be with you. If I took her to the beach, she had to say “hi” to everyone before she would go in the water. And if you splashed or screamed too much in the water she would dive in, grab your arm in her mouth, and try to swim you to shore to “rescue” you.
Although we were supposed to exercise her, we had to be careful not to overdo it. Sometimes, if she seemed especially exhausted, I would worry we had overdone it.
And sometimes the kids would worry. We would lay our hands on her and pray for healing.
Vet appointments were a painful reminder of her precarious state of health. As they listened to her heart, they would shake their heads wondering aloud how she was still with us.
Upon the advice of the vet, I took her to the U. They ran all kinds of tests. They discovered a leaking valve was one of the main problems. We hoped that is was her right valve; at least there was a possibility she could have surgery to slow it down. But, sadly, tests confirmed that the leak was in an inoperable valve. She was unfixable.
The vet tried to assure me that when Chloe did die, it would happen quickly. As kindly, but as honestly as he could, he told me not to expect much more time with her; in fact, he really didn’t know how she was still alive.
But, I knew why…she was holding on for us. She was holding on for herself. And God was allowing this blessing for us a little longer.
One day I got a call. It was from a breeder, Wayne, who had befriended us when we were first looking for a Newf. To his credit, he kept in touch occasionally even though we hadn’t bought our dog from him. He loved to talk to anyone who would talk Newfoundland’s with him. I hadn’t heard from him for over a year, however.
For the first time ever, he didn’t call to chat. “Say, I have a proposition for you,” he said. “I have one puppy left from this last litter. It was a large litter, and all the rest are taken. For some reason, you popped into my mind, and I really want you to have her. I know you would provide a great home for her, and she is an amazing puppy. There is nothing wrong with her, and there would be no cost.”
I told him I would think about it and call him back in a few days.
I thought and prayed about it. I had this niggling feeling she was supposed to be ours, but logic won out. “Chloe’s health can’t handle a puppy, even though she’d love it... We can’t afford two dogs…Too much work…” I decided I would tell him “no” but waited a couple days, just to be respectful, and just in case God changed my mind.
The next day I was driving my son’s teammate home after a basketball practice when I got another call. It took a while to decipher what the hysterical, sobbing voice was saying on the other line. When I finally did, my heart sank. It was Chloe’s groomer. I assured her it was not her fault and tried to be as vague as possible as my son was chatting with his friend in the backseat oblivious.
That afternoon I broke the news to each family member. Chloe was now running through the fields of heaven with a healed heart. She was one-month shy of four.
It was a very sad time. There are worse things in this world to be sure, but to our family, like many others, fur members are like family.
A day later I tried to broach the subject of Wayne’s puppy. I could not believe this was just a coincidence. McKayla and Brent thought it was a good idea. Austin emphatically said, “No!!! No one is replacing Chloe!” and quickly darted from the room.
We tried again later. We explained that no dog could ever replace Chloe. But this puppy needed a loving home. He asked a few questions. He thought about it. He caved.
We have now had Mia for over five years. She has been such a delight and a great companion for everyone. She is even an amazing “mom” to all of the many foster dogs we take in, helping them learn how to be great companions for others.
And she is a reminder to me. A reminder that in the midst of the heartaches we face in this life, even the loss of our pets, God cares. Mia is, as my dear friend, Julie, likes to say, “A love gift from heaven.” She is a reminder to us that God sees just what we need, when we need it and loves to sprinkle those good gifts into our lives.
Some see a star on Mia’s chest. I see a cross. A cross reminds me of the most amazing love gift God ever gave. To think that the holy Creator of the universe made Himself flesh to walk among us, to suffer a slow and painful death on a cross, shedding blood, to cover our sins so we can live eternally with Him in a place of beauty and peace forever...a place where there is no death.
As my now seventeen-year-old son said to me tonight just before drifting off to sleep, “Mom, can you believe it? Mia still tries to fit on this bed with me. Silly dog…she really loves me, doesn’t she?”
Yes son. She does…and Someone else does, too.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
…so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge...
Oh the deep, deep love of Jesus
Spread His praise from shore to shore
How He came to pay our ransom
Through the saving cross He bore
How He watches o’er His loved ones
Those He died to make His own
Samuel Trevor Francis
What a touching story LuAnn ! Thanks for penning it and letting us nod our head yes to all you state about our furry friends!