5 Things My Dog Taught Me

I’ve slept 4 nights stretched out as long as I wanted to because my dog is gone and I hate it. I really thought if I just avoided talking about her that I would eventually be okay. That’s not the case, the tears just keep coming at the oddest times. My heart is broken and I owe her all the love for the 15 years she lived with me. She was so much better than me and I know she was “just a dog” but she was mine and that is why I grieve her today.

She loved being in our family. Everyone has a Lizzy story or three. She had a funny personality and if you were close to our family….you’ve heard us imitate her as some bossy little wild woman who took herself for walks, judged others and did whatever the heck SHE WANTED TO DO sans worrying about any repercussions! Girl was a boss! She was responsible for a lot of laughs and it’s hard to remember a time without her.

She was 5 weeks old when we brought her home. I’ll never forget the first moment I saw her, she was so tiny…sitting in a big chair in the breeder’s living room. I took one look at her and thought, you’re my dog! Little did I know, she was totally taking me up on that. Instead of devoting herself to our daughter (whom she was originally bought for) she made it clear that I was her mama. No matter where I went, she loyally followed. If I cooked, she stood alongside and watched. Her favorite activity was our naps together. Nothing could keep that dog away from me. Sometimes, it annoyed me.

Since she died on Saturday, I’ve thought of all the ways she made my life better. Honestly, there a million. My photo storage is full of pictures of her interspersed with our lives because….well, we loved her that much. It’s impossible for me to avoid seeing her because she’s everywhere I look. How do you just get over someone you love so much (even if it’s a little dog)?

While my heart is shattered, God gave me a gift to help cope with her loss. The last several weeks had been rather terrible for her. She was so sick and yet, she never complained. Her love of food was crushed and she lost more than half of her body weight. Then her tiny belly started to swell and she eventually couldn’t stand or walk anymore. That horrible stuff nearly killed me and while I wished she would get better, heart disease doesn’t ever heal or go away. The process of watching her dwindle away prepared me for now. I prayed constantly for God to help her, either heal her or HEAL HER for heaven. Dog heaven. Which I’m convinced is the same heaven I’ll be in because…heaven is perfect and whatever your theology, God made animals so they’ll be there too!

It’s only fair that I honor her with the truth about who she was to me and how God used her to make me a better me. Dogs can be used by God, I’m a perfect example.

1 — She taught me to think outside of myself.

Dogs need care and if you own one you know, they need your help. They can’t fix their own food or open doors to go outside. It would be abusive to ignore her needs for my own. Every day, I had to think of her and what she needed. That’s a good thing. Life’s NOT all about us.

2 — She taught me that I’m valuable.

She loved me all the time. She didn’t get mad or hurt because I was busy or distracted with life. Her loyalty remained the same. She waited patiently on me for much of her life but she didn’t count any of it against me. Humans don’t offer the same grace. Her love gave me a glimpse of my own value in this world. How many times has life beat you up and when you got home, your dog celebrated you just for showing back up? You matter.

3 — She taught me to slow down.

I’m so good at running around and keeping busy. She was content to just lay by my side watching a show or reading a book. I have so many great memories of the two of us outside on the porch. Sitting quietly together gave me ample hours of rest and good prayer time. She managed to train me to hang out!

4 — She taught me to be fierce.

I’m certain the “though she be little, she be fierce” saying was meant for her. She was a squirt but she was also brave. Nothing scared Lizzy! I especially giggle looking back at her ability to growl at pitch black windows when my hubby was far away out of town! Thanks, Lizzy!!

5 — She taught me to love the ones you’re with right now.

Kids grow up and leave. Family & friends pass away. Why do we forget to love them with all our might when they are in our very presence? I can attest that nothing stays the same in life. If you haven’t had a big life change, just hang on. You will soon enough. I look back and see how EVERY SINGLE DAY Lizzy was there and I purposely gave her the love that she needed from me. I am so glad that I had her to love. She loved me even more. What a good lesson for me to genuinely love the people I still have in my life every day. Our time here is temporary. Why waste it hurt or mad at the people you love?

The love lessons won’t end just because she’s gone. I feel her all around me still and I know I’ll never forget her or the love she so freely gave to me and my family. Truth is, I’m wounded but I’m walking right now. This hurts but I’m so glad for all the pain. She meant so much and filled all the most memorable years of our lives. She was there for all of it, elementary ages to grown up years. Thank you, Lizzy. You were our favorite everything!

Grief is the price you pay for love.