Hard Lessons learned from a Puppy

Almost 9 years ago the Lord blessed Randy and I with a sweet little girl who has loved animals since the day she was born. When she was little our dog Jeeder was her best friend. We have so many pictures of her cuddled up next to that dog. She loves animals and makes friends with animals everywhere we go.
I have never been a animal person. Growing up my sister LOVED animals (still does) and I liked them, but could have easily done without. Since being married Randy and I had a couple dogs, but when it was time to get rid of them, I barely batted an eye. OUr  final dog Jeeder we got rid of shortly after Gibson was born. I had 4 kids under 5  at the time and the thought of taking care of a dog as well, put me over the edge. So, we found another home for our dog. He was a boxer and a really good dog, but it was time for him to go.
 Randy and I heard of some boxer puppies a couple months ago, and decided to get our animal lover a dog for her birthday (even though we said we never would). If you know Randy you know there is no love lost between him and dogs, but he does love  his little girl and that love won. We also thought that that out of all our kids,  she could be trusted to be responsible and take care of the dog.
We surprised her with a scavenger hunt and she found her new dog in a box in the back of the van. She was over the moon with excitement. She named her Pancake, and we made it clear that this puppy was fully her responsibility. Over the next couple weeks I saw her take full responsibility of her puppy, and it was beautiful to watch. She never once complained about taking it out to go potty, even in the middle of the night. She cleaned up its poop and pee without batting an eye. I was in awe as I watched her take responsibility for that little puppy.  My little extrovert, who feels everything with all her heart,  threw all her energy and love into that puppy.
I also noticed in me that I formed a love for the puppy, because I loved my little girl. I took care of the puppy, and spent hours reading all about taking care of puppies so that I could help her train the puppy properly. As the puppy got sick  I found myself staying up at night to take care of it (I have barely slept the last week). It’s last night I woke up every 30 minutes to an hour to feed it by a syringe.  I learned to love and care for that little puppy because of my love for our little girl. It is amazing that when we love someone, many times we show people by loving the things that they love.
Last night I knew the puppy was going to die soon. I even prayed, “Lord if she is going to die please take her quickly.” In these times its so easy to want to shelter our kids from hard things. It would be easier to say she went to a happy farm to live, she is in puppy heaven, etc. But, we decided to to take this opportunity to talk to her about death. Death is part of this world, and it is a lesson that we all have to learn at some point.
 There were lots of tears as I laid in  the bottom level of a bunk bed with 3 kiddos (one had already gone to sleep) as we prayed and we talked, but the sweetness of the moment will not soon be forgotten.  The kids woke up this morning to a dead puppy, but the childlike faith of our sweet girl has been a blessing to both Randy and I today.  She is sad, really sad.  There has been  a lot of tears in our house today. However, we have heard things like, ” Mommy, I am so glad that I know that God knew that this was going to happen to me, and that I at least got to have her for a couple weeks.”
She also told Randy this morning, “Daddy, even though she died it was still a really good birthday present.”
We have also seen the sweetness of her siblings as they took care of her today. Her older brother made a cross out of bamboo to mark the spot where the dog is buried. Her sister cleaned their whole room by herself this morning. The littlest brother keeps walking up to her and saying, ” I am so sorry, this has happened to you.”
We wish that we could take the pain away from her heart right now.  What parents wants to see their child sad. I hate it that our little girl who feels soooo deeply has to go through this loss. However, I am so glad that in these times we can learn more and more about Jesus. I am thankful that I can teach my little girl that God really does care about her pain and sadness. I am thankful that we can teach her that Jesus came to this world and conquered sin and death, and that in heaven for those who believe there will be no more death.
I am thankful that I have seen her little heart long for heaven as we talk about heaven, what it will be like and then she says, “Maybe someday in heaven, I’ll have another puppy.”