About 2 weeks ago we had to put down our beloved Stanley. It was absolutely brutal.
Stan had been a part of our family for 12 years. As a puppy he was my daughter’s faithful companion and constantly by her side while she endured some very difficult physical challenges. He had a loud, obnoxious bark but he was very gentle – he wouldn’t hurt a fly! He would play fetch until he was forced to quit due to exhaustion. He would chase his own tail with great gusto upon even the slightest prompting. He was deathly afraid of thunderstorms, firecrackers, garbage trucks and frying bacon (I guess it sounded too much like rain!). He once ate an entire extra-large pizza when we foolishly stepped out of the room for a few minutes. He was skunked 3 different times. He once suffered a severe poke in the eye as he ran full speed into a bush, seeking to retrieve a tennis ball. I could throw a tennis ball a hundred feet into thick woods and he would emerge with it within minutes (he would’ve made a great hunting dog if he had been trained). He loved to go swimming, though he seldom got the chance. He was actually a purebred of 2 different breeds – both parents purebreds – a beautiful offspring of an English setter and a Labrador retriever.
He was our Stanley and we loved him very much. He was a great dog.
Yet it felt dumb to grieve a dog. He was “just” an animal. But the grief was very real.
He was always there with an enthusiastic greeting every time I arrived home. He was always up to watch a ballgame with me on TV or to go for a walk. He had become such a part of our family. And now he was gone. Our entire family mourned his loss. I had never had to put down a pet before, so it hit me unexpectedly hard.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. Psalm 34:18
Could such a promise from God be applied to the loss of an animal? Or is the death of a dog too trivial and commonplace for God to care?
Here is what I have determined. Not only does God know what happens in my life, but he also cares. He walks with me through good times and bad. When I struggle, regardless of the reason, he is concerned and desires to help. So, though for some it might seem stupid – for me it felt good to bring my grief to God. For comfort, for strength, for peace. It worked. I’m still a bit sad but I feel a lot better.
I think having a great dog must definitely be a gift from God. And for that I will always be grateful. Stan the Man will not be forgotten!