Whew! What a night! I must sadly report that we lost our beloved Australian Shepherd Mandie last night. It all happened so fast that I am still in a state of shock. It’s been a rough few days for us as Piper was really out of it over the weekend and had me quite concerned at times, but she began to pull out of it on Sunday and by yesterday was back to form again. And through it all, as usual, Mandie was at my side with her funny little antics, a bright light in the midst of the tough times in my life.
She has slowed down over the last few weeks but we (including the Vet at a recent appointment) attributed it to the arthritis in her back. Yesterday she was a little lethargic in the morning and was not real interested in breakfast, which isn’t that unusual. But she finally ate breakfast and seemed to be her old self again. Piper and I left around noon and spent the day with our older daughter and had a terrific time shoe shopping and capped it off with a belated birthday lunch.
When we returned late in the afternoon I found Mandie lying on the floor between the dining room and the kitchen, facing the door that leads to the garage. It was obvious that she was in need as she could not stand up and looked glassy eyed. I immediately called the Vet who just happens to be open late on Monday nights and I carried her out to the car and we headed out back to the area where we had just come from!
Mandie seemed to revive in the car a bit and actually sat up a few times. Once we got to the Vet I ran in and they told me to bring her in as they were all ready for her. I had a few moments alone with the pooch before the Vet came in and as her breathing got more and more shallow, she kept turning her head to look at me. I got down on my knees and talked with her and kept petting her. Then she turned the other direction and was gone. The Vet took her into the back room to give her some oxygen, but it was too late.
When the Vet came back, she (in tears) told me that Mandie was gone and explained that upon examination she could see that the dog actually had cancer in her liver. The good news is that the Vet assured me that she went quickly and was not in pain.
Wow! Like I said, I still can’t believe it! But I am comforted to know that once again, the Lord has everything in the palm of His hand. I found myself last night and this morning looking for her in all her familiar haunts around the house. I even went out back before turning the lights out as I usually do to let her out one last time before the night.
It’s funny today as I think about her. We had some folks suggest that it would be best to give her away when Piper’s health needs came to light. We had others that would get upset with her when they came in the house to visit, but I always defended the dog and the need to have her around. I can’t hardly count all the times she had quietly come to my side to reassure me when I was in the throes of despair over my wife. The times in the dark at the foot of the stairs at our last home in California. The time I flew out of the shower one morning when I heard Piper having a seizure in the bedroom only to find the dog hovering over Piper, licking her face! And the many occasions when I sat down on the floor next to the dog (like this last weekend) to talk to her about my thoughts and feelings for Piper after I put her to bed for the night.
My older son just text me and was talking about how there is a reason why they call dogs man’s best friend! It is so true. Our older daughter, who was with us at the Vet last night, mentioned while reminiscing about the dog that Mandie finally got her big backyard in the last few years of her life! It has been quite a pleasure to watch her walk the fence line of the yard each day, checking out the sights and sounds in the yard, barking at the big black crows and chasing the squirrels across the yard. But the best thing was laughing at her as she loved to roll over on her back on the grass and bark at the sky!
Mandie, you will be sorely missed, but lovingly remembered as the best dog we’ve ever had, the happiest dog we’ve ever had and a true companion and friend that was always there for me come the good times and bad.
I was reading in my new commentary on the book of Philippians this morning, as I thought about Mandie lying on the couch behind my desk in the study, that according to the Apostle Paul, “Life is not a series of disappointing ups and downs, but instead a sequence of delightful ins and outs. God works in (us) – we work (Him) out (in our daily lives). The example comes from Christ, the energy comes from the Holy Spirit, and the result is JOY!”
Paul lived one of the hardest lives that I’ve ever known, but yet was a man that was known for his joy in the midst of the most trying of situations. His joy was a result of his submission to God, His Word and His ways, in every and any situation. So that is my plan of attack for our current loss. I’ll remember the good times of the past, the special place Mandie has etched in our hearts and look forward to the good future that Papa God has planned for Piper and I.
In my mind’s eye though, I’ll probably always see Mandie rolling around on the lawn outside our kitchen window every time I look outside when preparing our meals! I’ll always carry within me that smile she seemed to have on her face, her funny antics and the joy and comfort she brought to us. Have a great day everyone, and as you do, keep asking yourselves… What or Whose JOY am I expecting to have today… no matter what happens?”