It was a chilly December afternoon. My beloved one’s birthday. Our youngest child had been mourning the loss of her first dog. We, as parents who are supposed to be the rational sane ones, allowed grandma and grandpa to bring us a dog to ease the painful loss. Dad and daughter opened the box and there inside was a big-eyed, cinnamon dachshund, wearing a large red bow. Both dad and daughter shared a smile. She was dubbed, Penny, because of her bright copper coat. Little did we know, she’d become a gift, from heaven.
Fast forward, a couple of years. Little Penny had won the hearts of her family. A very special dog. She mothered her girls and slept by her master as much as possible. I watched as she wrapped herself around her people’s baby fingers. About this time, something was brewing with her master. Penny sensed the stress, though no one could put a finger on it. She stuck close to my husband and whenever he was home. She’d even place her tiny paw on his dirty boots when he arrived home from work, asking him to pick her up. As he always did. He’d tuck her under his arm and rest his tired cheek against her ears. It was like a little joy sparked his heart and life was good again. Penny, encouraged him and just wouldn’t leave him alone when he was home. She loved Saturday and Sunday afternoon naps, I’d find them sprawled out side by side, both snoring.
This closeness and her need to be with him increased. I caused me to ponder what might be up. Winter before last, I felt, in my heart, God preparing me for something. My husband wasn’t himself, he was so tired and had little appetite. I urged him to see a doctor, and finally he agreed. It seemed it was a non-threatening health issue, they felt could be remedied with medication and surgery. The plan was set in motion and took place in the spring. Penny, still attentive as ever. Mourned and moped around the house while he recovered at the hospital. When he was released and home, she sat at his feet and on his lap. As he was recovering, life was slipping into normal again. Penny, was still acting super attentive, like she knew something was still not right. She’d pace if she couldn’t see him. A week after surgery, my husband got a call from the doctor. He wanted him to come in that day. This sent chills up our spines, and Penny sensed it all. She wouldn’t leave her crate until he returned. And she was right there in the mix when he shared he had cancer. Penny knew, and increased her vigilance at his side. There were days my husband had to tell her to eat and go outside. She slept beside him as he began to need more rest, needing to have her head right on him, as if truing to hug him. She was there everyday to greet him after chemo and followed him everywhere he went.
Penny brough great comfort when the diagnosis became grim. And time was drawing to a close. She always knew when he needed her, wiggling her round, copper body in between him and the recliner he sat in. You could find her under the blankets of his bed, head always on his lap. When the final day approached, we brought her food to her at his side, because she wouldn’t eat otherwise. Penny’s from heaven rained down each day that last week. She stayed by his side and that last night the hospice bed was full, as Penny insisted on having her head on his shoulder and sleeping in between myself and him. She was there to mourn with us as he entered heaven that last morning. And spent most of the next couple days in her house alone. Penny is a special dog.
Since my beloved one passed away, I have found her sleeping on his shoes, which are still under our bed. Recently I began the steps of going through his closet and cleaning out his clothes. Penny planted herself firmly on a pair of his jeans, that last pair he wore. I found her curled up in a ball asleep on them. Suffice it to say, that pair didn’t go with the clothes when we gave them away. They are still here, and she still likes to sleep on them. Penny knows when I miss him and is close by. But recently we realized, when I had to be gone she’d crawl in her house and not come out until I returned. It was so sad to watch her mourn.
So, while on a cheering up mission, for my youngest daughter, to the pet store, we came upon what we thought might be the perfect thing to cheer Penny’s sad heart. A puppy… after several rational moments mixed with irrational ones, we decided to take home a tiny dappled bundle, which we named Freckles.
From the start we were rewarded by Penny’s enthusiastic response to her new friend. Little guy has been a distraction for us too. Reminding us that there is still living to do. He makes us laugh and keeps Penny’s busy. And though we, all of us, miss our beloved, God is showing us life out of great loss and tremendous stress.
Yes, He can use even special pets to encourage us. Today I am thankful for Penny’s from heaven and little Freckles, who makes two.