My dog Molly. First off, I guess that's the thing about dogs. My wife and I, three kids, one dog and she is thought of as "my dog" by each of us. We share unique and personal relationships with the family dog, don't we? And it's the dog who makes it that way, because they give uniquely and personally of themselves individually, meeting us where we are.
Seven months ago I was diagnosed with Mesothelioma, a cancer that is thought to be incurable and one that is viciously present and spreading throughout my lungs, lymph nodes and my abdomen. Molly hasn't left my side since I've been home with my illness. She, almost literally, has an eye on me all the time. If it's not lying at my feet at the end of the bed, she's watching me at my spot in the study from her spot in the living room. The living room view gives her best reaction time should any of the thieves and murderers walking by our front door attempt unauthorized entry, or worse - dare to walk their dog on our section of the street. The she-devil in the Canada Post uniform will never be given quarter. Never! You may be able to fool the mistress of the house with a smile and a People magazine, but not our Molly.
And when a friend comes through my door they are subject to an inspection as thorough and efficient as any airport in the nation, and to watchful surveillance for the duration of their visit. Sure, it is disguised as playful efforts to engage the guest in toy-throwing, petting behind the ears and endless belly rubs. She's crafty, that one.
When this cancer nightmare began and nights were pain filled, marked by endless coughing and sleepless hours, on more than one occasion I awoke to find her standing just inches from my face, staring at me, watching me sleep. She could smell the disease in me. At the same time she would not allow an afternoon nap too deep. On more than one occasion she nuzzled me awake just as I was about to go into a very deep sleep. I have no doubts she was making sure that I was going to wake up. Ain't nobody checking out on her watch!
Sometimes I find myself just staring at her as she watches out the front window. (We call it SquirrellTV). She has a beautiful profile, but here's the thing. She's a dog. She is not a replacement human. She is not a "fur-baby". Her needs do not take precedence over those of any human being. We love her, of course we do. In her own way she is a member of the family. But we know that it isn't right to forget our place on God's earth - of stewardship and that we are of the highest order of all of God's creatures, and therefore entrusted with the care of the lower orders, my beloved dog being one of them.
I wish I could love as unconditionally as my dog does me. I wish I was as happy to see my wife and kids every time they walked in the door as my dog is to see me and the truth is, I am. But I don't show it and I think they're ok with that arrangement. And I also know that God loves me just that much and more, just as unconditionally and more. I wish I could love as God loves.
When I come home after work it doesn't matter if I wasn't my best self that day, or to whom I owe apologies; she doesn't care. I've put on a few pounds, she doesn't care. I'm not much fun to be around lately, especially chemo weeks, and who's putting in 20 hours of sleep right beside me? My 10 year old puppy, Molly.
And who else waits for me patiently even if I've been neglectful? Who walks beside me always? By which supernatural strength am I getting through this difficult time?
The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, that's who.
And oh yeah...Molly, truly a Border Collie / Labrador experience of what heaven must surely be like, and a reminder of what life here on earth can be.