The phone rang. The vet was confirming their appointment later that morning, but . . . a pup had been found on a ranch outside of town and brought to the no kill shelter. The mother had been killed. The pup was healthy, but couldn't be kept there . . . she was "different." Could they possibly adopt her?
Walking into the shelter with their pup to have her final check before their move out of state, they saw a skinny little red-brown ball of fur. She saw them and ran to them--sensing they were her own. She smelled them, licked them, and was drawn into their arms. They were her pack. She knew she had found her home.
Traveling with them to their new home, she learned the joys of collars (which she constantly escaped), leashes, riding in cars, climbing stairs, "going potty on demand" and eating this strange thing called dog food. Barely big enough to reach the door handle, she curled into a ball and cuddled into the nearest human--spreading her love and attention between them all, but one was special . . . the one they called mom.
Over the years she stayed near mom. Mom was . . . her mom. Mom never treated her like a dog. Mom treated her for the special treasure that she was . . . a red wolf, rescued from the plains of eastern New Mexico. For mom, she would sing the song of her people. She howled; starting low, then higher, higher, higher, and higher. Sometimes mom would even sing along with her. Mom said it was good she had a three octave+ range or she couldn't keep up with her.
As the years passed, she began to lose her voice . . . she couldn't see as well . . . and her bones ached, but when mom went from room to room, so did she. Mom traveled a lot for her job and she went with her everywhere. Waiting patiently in the car for mom's return. Curled up contentedly on the seat or floor near her with her head draped on mom's leg. Everywhere they went mom introduced her to people--telling most she was an Alaskan husky (a little bit of every dog that passed through the village, including the wolves)--silly mom.
She guarded mom from people she thought were a danger. She loved mom and comforted her when she was sad. Mom noticed she was slowing down, it was harder to get into high places. She was content on her soft bed on the floor beside mom's desk or bed. Her vision was no longer sharp and she didn't really want to play with the younger dogs anymore. After all, she was almost fourteen--a ripe old age for a wolf . . . err, dog.
Mom came home from a meeting and it took longer to get to the door to greet her. When they went out to the yard, it confused her--too many scents; too much space. She stumbled and nearly fell, so mom picked her up and carried her back into the house.
Curling up near mom, she went into a seizure. Her paws stopped working--she couldn't stand. Doing a sort of breast stroke across the floor she pulled herself to mom. She was having a stroke. Mom carried her to the bed, curled around her and soothed her trembling body. They lay that way through the night. When she whimpered in pain, mom soothed her.
Her time on this earth is almost gone. She knew it was nearing the time to say goodbye. They stayed near each other--drawing comfort and whispering about all the joy of their lives together. Yes, her imminent passing was heart breaking.
More important, though, was the joy they shared throughout the years. Their lives together were richer, fuller, and filled with joy. Thinking ahead to Christmas, mom didn't know how she would get through it without her companion. Until the memories of joy filled her with love. It would be a blue Christmas without her . . . but her life was filled with so much joy for her being a part of it.
Everyone has suffered loss. Everyone grieves over those they love who have died. The blueness of our longing for them can overshadow the joy at times. However, the reality is that we are never alone. God is with us. Those we love have gone to be with God and so they too are with us . . . in our hearts. Whether you have lost a spouse, a parent, a friend, a pet, or whomever you have loved, it can still be joyfully blue for their having been a part of your life. Celebrate the love.
God of comfort and joy, our lives are filled with the blessings of loving and being loved. The pain of loss and separation can be so great that it seems too much to bear. Continually place people in our lives that help comfort us and remind us of your love. Give us the courage to rise out of our blues to accept your love and to be your loving arms for someone else. So be it. Amen.
Sharing the memories of my beloved Sheena Lobita, the most loving red wolf/dog to have graced my life, teaching me every day of her precious life with our family to embrace those who are different, because the love is the same