Our 11-year-old dog is on her last legs. The vet diagnosed renal failure. Lucy doesn’t know it. We do.
Lucy still lives each day to the hilt. Nothing in the past to regret. Nothing in the future to dread.
Every morning she saunters along on our mile-long nature trail. Each walk is more and more precious to me now. Lucy doesn’t think that way. Every walk has always been precious to her. It’s her favorite thing.
When we start out she hops up and down, nips at my coat pocket, expecting a treat because when she was a puppy I got up at 4 a.m. to take her out into the yard to do her business. Then I gave her a treat. That ended long ago. Lucy doesn’t know that. She lives in the eternal now.
Once we’re back, she darts from room to room and returns with her stuffed bear clutched in her mouth, tail wagging, body quivering. She nudges it against my leg as though I’d never seen it before. Every guest has gotten the same treatment for 11 years. It’s her favorite thing.
Glad to see you! And so is my bear! We’re glad you’re here.
Every evening Paula plays fetch-the-squeaky-ball with Lucy. Paula flings the ball off the deck. Lucy bounds down the steps, races in circles, finds it, and then runs back up the steps for another round and another and another. It’s her favorite thing.
Lucy’s lost a step or two. Sometimes her back legs crumble. She lays panting for a while but soon gets back up for another round like there’s no tomorrow, only the eternal now where every moment is precious.
That’s how I want to live. But I know tears are coming. Still, I can and will take joy today.
Years ago when I was a pastor, a child asked me whether dogs go to heaven. (Her dog had just died.) Of course, I said. After all, heaven is a reunion with all our loved ones. No tears. Only joy.
I expect to see all my former dogs bounding toward me over those streets of gold, wagging their tails, jumping on my chest, and slobbering my face with licks. My favorite thing.
I don’t expect to see any of my former cats in heaven. I’m pretty sure it’s not good enough for them.
See Paula’s photo (Oregon Seastacks) on the home page. Posted January 23.