...with a husband and 5 sons, I am truly outnumbered....stories and thoughts on life from a mom in a houseful of little men!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Good-Bye, Friend

The first rays of sunlight filtered through sheer curtains into our room, and I opened my eyes.  Immediately feeling the hollow inside, I remembered today I must make the call.  This impending task to do made it so difficult to rise.  I'd been up with him in the night...he had stood panting, panicked, in pain.  His eyes had that wild "help me" look which all pet owners who have seen their beloveds to the end would recognize.  Nothing I could do would bring comfort any longer; it was just....time.
Still feeling somewhat foreign in this Southern town, I wondered who to call.  This isn't the type of veterinary appointment in which you want to "try out" a new place.  It's the type of heart-wrenching appointment that you don't want to make at all, but if it needs to be made, you want it to be with friends. 
Hoping for the best, I called one of two nearest places.  It had seemed quaint and simple as I drove by on other days.  However, my experience on the phone with them was anything but what I was hoping for, to put it kindly.  Hanging up, I called the next-nearest place...a place I'd also seen numerous times.  It had seemed a little too flashy from the outside, considering our needs at the moment, but I called anyway.  The receptionist was kind, and they could see us at 2:30.  Not much time to make last memories, but what would be enough?
As the appointed time approached, Tony's strong arms scooped up our Chuggie Chugiak, our "Sits With a Purpose", the dog who had been so present and faithful to us for the last nearly 17 years.  He was a musher's cast-away, an unwanted pup, which I found along with his sister under rickety, wooden, rural post office steps, just a few weeks after moving to Alaska.  We wanted him, and we moved across town in order to keep him.  
Chuggie was an awkward, peaceful, and comical creature.  He seemed to always be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and in the way.  He would have the entire run of the house, yet step in the dirt pile I just swept up.  He was the type of dog that brought a smile or even a chuckle on the worst of days.  He taught us that we shouldn't take ourselves too seriously.  Even now I smile as I think of how I could make it through feeding time during the muddiest day of break-up season, and just before I left the kennel, he would be the one out of five dogs to affectionately plop the muddiest paw directly on my clothes.  He taught us that things don't have to be perfect, and it's pointless to try to make them that way.  He taught us to live and love freely, even if it gets you a bit dirty.

Chuggie lived for even a glimpse of us, all day long, every day.  At any given time, he was pining away for us at his "post", staring at the house window, or down the driveway.  In the dog yard, he tripped us up trying to be as close as possible to us at all times.  If I were to stand still, he would immediately sit down, directly in front of me, staring up at me.  The moment eye contact was made, he dramatically threw himself down, exposing his belly, waiting for a nice rub.

One by one, all of his dog buddies passed away.  He grieved every death by moping and barking incessantly, day and night, for days and nights on end.  He would not eat nor sleep.  With the passing of his litter mate sister a year and a half ago, Chuggie was the last remaining member of the pack.  He has been a constant in our family life, and part of what makes home, "home", whether it be a house  we own, or rent, or a camper driven across two countries.  

In Tony's arms, on this bright, warm, spring Tuesday, Chuggie did not struggle.  Hind legs, which had once been so strong and pulled us miles and miles on dogsled and skis, hung limply down his master's side.  He trusted those arms to hold him tight, to have his best interest at heart, to do what was best.  Observing his trust, I realized that even on this day, there were lessons still to be learned from this dog.  You see, there are  Strong Arms that hold me also and have held me continuously for forty years, yet I still fight against them at times.  For half my lifetime, I didn't realize those Arms were there, holding.  For the other half of my lifetime, I have known it, received it, and rejoiced in it.  Even still, I sometimes struggle and flail around, not always trusting.

Our drive to the new and unknown veterinary clinic was a nearly silent one.  It was also much too short of a drive.

Outdoors in the sunshine, with the help of compassionate and skilled hands, we loved our dog the last way that we could.  And at a time when we desperately needed a piece of home, we were unbelievably blessed with it.

Our vet was from Anchorage. 

Yeah, of all the clinics in Maryville, Tennessee, the one we chose was owned by an Alaskan. Upon arrival, we felt the ambiance of "home," that familiar, laid-back, pay-us-later, Pacific Northwest feel.  Still, we never would have guessed that our vet would tell us she was from Anchorage. 

Let me tell you, friends:  the One Whose Arms Hold Me?  He cares about the things we care about about.  As I looked upon the huge Alaska map displayed in the waiting area, I realized once again, that this God who placed the capacity to love in our hearts, even to crazy-love furry creatures, passionately loves us and cares about our details.


Necee L said...

The girls and I felt a part of your family in this post. Your words were so descriptive & drew us right there alongside you. Loving on you in prayer & grieving with you. We will miss you, Sweet pup. Hugs to our Alaskan faraway, yet not so far away family. We love you, the Lom's

sacra vim said...

Oh, my friend...I'm so sorry this day came, and so glad He orchestrated it perfectly for you. Still praying for you guys.

Sandi Williams said...

This entry in your blog was the hardest one to read through tears falling down my face yet it was the most beautiful one at the same time! I don't know how you wrote it...except that do believe it came straight from your heart with INSPIRED words. What a wonderful tribute to Chuggie...I remember when you found those two pups & those old rickety stairs at the post office. ((Hugs)) to all of you. God is SO GOOD!!

Sandi Williams said...
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