Most of you who are close to me know that I love dogs, especially my dogs, and especially my black lab Reagan. On Monday June 9th I had to put Reagan to sleep. Even writing those words now still evokes tears to stream from my eyes. The more that I have to relive Monday and the pain that it brought having to watch my puppy go to sleep in front of me and not wake up, the more it hurts, the more frustrated I get, and the more depressed I become.
I bought Reagan the day after I proposed to Jen. She was our engagement dog, and she was supposed to be with us for a long time. I got to raise Reagan as a puppy, with a ton of help from my dad, I got to teach her the things that I always wanted to have in a dog. My first day with her was spent throwing the ball around the backyard and her fetching. One thing Reagan always did was chew. She chewed up furniture at my parents house as a puppy; she chewed up my furniture after we got married. The list of things she chewed is quite long and not worth detailing here. But my favorite thing that I taught her to do was to cuddle. Now I am not foolish enough to think that I taught her how to cuddle and that’s that, because her personality was just so sweet that it brought her so much joy to cuddle and it was just something she did pretty naturally, but I encouraged it like crazy, and she would cuddle with anyone and everyone. It drove most visitors to our home nuts, but that’s who she was, she was a lap dog, a 45lb lap dog.
One night last week she threw up about 15 times in the middle of the night. The next day I took her to the vet, they checked her out and did x-rays and everything came back ok, so the vet gave her a couple of stomach flu shots and sent her home with me. Over the next couple of days she wouldn’t eat, it didn’t matter what I gave her, she just wouldn’t eat it. Reagan was always in our trash and up on the counters trying to get our food, so when she wouldn’t even touch a slice of pizza I put in front of her I knew something was seriously wrong. The weekend came and went and she just refused to eat, so I arranged for her to go to a different vet Monday morning.
I was at work joking around with my coworkers when Jen called me, she was crying so I knew it wasn’t good, Reagan had chewed something and it was stuck in her intestines. The doctors did the same exam as the other vet and could feel something stuck in her intestine track. I spoke with the doctor and heard my options. Option 1- $1,200-$1,500 surgery and have the item removed. Option 2- No surgery and Reagan dies at home suffering within a couple of days. Option 3- put her down.
Jen and I are not well off, we live paycheck to paycheck and we make enough to pay our bills and have a little bit of fun every so often. So needless to say we don’t have $1,500 sitting around to pay for the surgery and after speaking with the dr. a second time, he gave Reagan a 50% chance at living even with the surgery. I was not about to go home and watch her suffer for a couple of days just to have a little more time with her, I’m not that selfish or inhumane, so I made the decision to put her down. I left work and headed to the vet to say my goodbye. I got to the vet and went to the room where my crying wife was, they brought her in a couple of minutes later.
The only thing I could do was fall to the ground and grab my puppy. I got to hold her for about 10 minutes; all 10 minutes were spent cuddling with her in my arms. I then had Jen go get the dr. and let them know I was ready. Within seconds of the injection she was gone and I was heartbroken. Even now I can not write this with dry eyes.
So heres the reality, Reagan was a dog.
And heres the truth, I don’t care if she was just a dog to you, she was a part of my family, she was a child to me, and I am broken by losing her.
The rest of the day was basically spent in tears between me and Jen. I had the support of my brothers through lunch and later was embraced by my closest friends who knew I had lost more than a dog.
As I was driving home alone Monday night I broke into to tears again, but this time God was teaching me something. I am not one to say that I heard the audible voice of God speaking directly to me, but rather God was giving me clarity and teaching me in this time of pain. Out of nowhere all I could think about were these words "how much more so do I love you".
The thing in all of this is that Reagan was a dog, she didn’t have any way to truly communicate with me, she had no way of telling me last week that she ate something and it was stuck in her throat and it eventually moved down into her intestines, she couldn’t hold my hand when I was lonely, I didn’t have a part in her birth or creation, Yet I loved her unconditionally without hesitation. Yet God was telling me “How much more so do I love you". In the midst of my tears I began to have some clarity, I began to gain some understanding. I am in so much pain over losing my dog, how much more pain does God feel when we turn from him. He created us, He had a hand in our birth, and He can and does communicate with us. How much more pain does Jesus feel when we turn our back on Him.
I will miss Reagan so much, I wish I had the money to pay for surgery because I would have done it without even thinking, yet I am grateful for what I have learned in these past few days. I picture God sitting there as I turn my back on Him throughout my daily life, and I just picture him cringing thinking "don’t you know how much I love you?" I wonder how much pain God felt when Adam and Eve sinned, “Don’t you know how much I love you?"
You see I have the ability to express my pain for Reagan, my tears are enough to say how much I loved her. And so I look at Jesus as a tear from God just for us saying, "this is how much I love you!"