This is not intended to be an advice or insight piece. I consider it more of a testimony. It has taken me this long to post this because of a busy schedule and me finding the right words to say.
About two weeks ago, on a Friday evening, I came home to some dreadful news. Before the news I was pleased that I finished all my work on time and that I could just be at home and rest for the Sabbath hour. As I walked into the kitchen I see my mom and Dad sitting in the dinning room. By the uneasy look on my dad’s face I could tell something was wrong. I was right- our pet dog Oreo died while I was at work.
Dad explained that while I was away he found her in our backyard lifeless with flies surrounding her. I can only imagine what his immediate reaction was. Had it been me who found her dead my throat would’ve gone dry, my hands would’ve shaken, and my speech would’ve been like a computer with a virus. Before, I never thought it would ever hurt me as much if Oreo ever passed, but it did. I hunched over in my chair; my lower back already aching from standing all day. My cheeks were drenched with tears; a few of them hitting the wooden floor. If my tears came in gallons they would have flooded the dining room. Mom patted me on my back; her warm touch melting through my shirt.
It seems like it was just yesterday, twelve years ago, when Dad took me and my sister Christina to get a dog. There she was- a black Labrador mixed with Lord only knows what. She was the only tiny black puppy in the bunch of tan colored puppies. She had a patch of white fur on her chest. Black and white like an Oreo cookie.
Oreo. That girl. She didn’t have a mean bone in her body. We always joked that if a burglar ever broke into the house she would jump on them and then play with them. Her tail was a nuisance. It was constantly brushing every item off of our coffee table. Loud noises didn’t agree with her. She preferred to be indoors during July away from the noisy fireworks. On Football Sundays she scrurried away from Dad’s yelling. She was a total cat whenever I gave her a bath. The struggle was getting her to stay in the tub. What dog refuses to get wet?
I think I really grew to love Oreo after Christina moved out of the house for marriage life in Hawaii. Oreo was moreso her dog because she was the one who truly wanted one from the very beginning. Oreo was my sister’s roommate and Christina would carry her around like a toddler. Some young girls have babies. Oreo was her baby. When my sister left I cried. Looking back I can only imagine how Oreo must have felt. Losing a mother figure and to not ever see her again. Me not wanting to let her feel lonely, I gave her more attention. I sometimes let her sleep beside my bed at night, I let her chill with me in my room, I gave her treats, and sometimes I talked to her to let her know that I knew she was in the room. When Mom and Dad were ever out of town, Oreo was good company to have around. Just having her there made me feel a little less lonely and the house less quiet.
The last time I saw Oreo alive was before work when I sent her outside for throwing up on the carpet again. What I didn’t know was that it was actually blood that she vomited up and not food. Why didn’t I know what it was, I thought. As I sat at that table part of me felt guilty for all those times I could’ve given her walks, those times I didn’t let her sleep in my room, and those times I put her outside for being in my way. “I could’ve done more,” I told my parents. Had I known her time was but a short time away I would’ve told her that I loved her and bent down to hug her like I often did.
The most amazing thing about pets is their ability to love even if you’re unkind towards them. Some if them, if not all of them don’t hold anything against you. You can swat them for messing up the rug; tearing up the house; or getting in your way when you’re busy, but they always come back for attention or to give you company if you’re ever feeling lonely.
Just as Christ encourages us to have the innocence of a child, we can be like our pets and be loving towards one another.