I’ve heard it preached that, biblically speaking, dogs don’t go to heaven. I’m pretty sure, though, that God will not deprive me of the blessing that is a loyal canine companion for all eternity.
Now, cats are probably hell-bound, but maybe all dogs go to heaven…if their owners deserve it.
Today I found out that my favorite dog–the best dog, the most well-behaved dog, the smartest dog–is sick. Darcy’s beautiful 9-year-old dog body is quite possibly riddled with cancer. And I can’t even think about anything else.
Allow me this moment to reminisce, just in case the unfavorable word comes down next week: Our sweet Darcy cost us a whopping $25 when we bought her in the spring of 2005. It was our first year in Oklahoma, in a tiny apartment far away from everything and everyone we loved. Why on earth we thought a puppy would be a perfect fit at that point, I’ll never understand.
She was supposed to be our family dog, meant to cement us all together, Cheyenne and me, and Caleb, and of course little baby Mia. We visited her and her fluffy brothers and sisters at their house in Oklahoma City. Darcy stood out from all the others with her beautiful golden fur and her black-speckled tongue. Caleb went to pick her up the next day and from then on, the bond between them was just unbreakable.
Every morning, Caleb and Darcy drove to the store to get coffee. I attached her leash to Mia’s stroller and took her on long walks through the park. Every afternoon, we drove out to the house we were building and laughed at her while she bounced through the tall grass of our soon-to-be yard. She dug holes in the red dirt near the concrete foundation. And every night, Darcy cuddled with us on the couch. At bedtime, she wormed her way between Caleb and me, and snored right up on our pillows…
And truth be told that was disgusting because she shed like a mo-fo and got mud all over the place.
She was no Marley Grogan, but in her first 12 months of life she wreaked some serious havoc. I had a baby and a third-grader and a new husband. I confess I did not always handle Darcy’s shenanigans with grace. In fact, I did some of my worst drinking that very year.
But dogs love you no matter what your freaking problem is.
I have cleaned up more pee and poop and puke and dog hair than I care to remember. I have seen this dog eat shoes, crayons, stuffed animals, pillows, baskets, and windowsills. I have had to rip up carpet and repaint walls in order to clean up some of her messes.
Some people would say that no pet is worth all that trouble, but I’ll have you know that God has used all of our sweet puppies to give me so much: I have had to practice more self-control with my dogs than I have ever needed to muster up with my own children. Some of my most gentle moments have involved caring for an animal. And being in charge of these three amazing dogs has taught me and my kids about responsibility, patience, and love.
And if over the next couple months I watch my Darcy lose more weight, and shed more fur, and get stiffer in her joints and slower in her movements, I hope that I can stay thankful for our time together, and that I can somehow convey my love and appreciation to this wonderful girl–even though she is “just a dog”.