“And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” (Genesis 1:28)
The past few months have simply been overwhelmed with “stuff” I have had to immediately hand over to the Lord so I could function each day. Literally. My body succumbed to adrenal fatigue several months ago; adrenal fatigue stems from excess emotional distress. Grieving the impending loss and the stress of caring for my ailing dog on top of life happening around me (work/commute hours equaling nearly 60 hours a week, serious ongoing family issues, then learning my job was being eliminated at the end of May) was difficult to say the least.
I tried to give Zeus as much love and attention as I could muster in the few hours I had before bed each night. Even though he couldn’t always get up to play, we’d still play ball, simply adjusted to him on the floor instead of chasing it if needed. I’d cuddle up with him on the floor and love on him while he bathed me in wet kisses, and I’d pray over him. Yes, my dog knew Jesus. I’d taught him to wait before eating so we could bless the food and thank God for it. Sometimes, I’d be in a hurry and forget, and he’d simply sit there and wait until I figured out why.
In February of 2017, there was a night I thought he was going to die. Something wasn’t right at all – it terrified me, and I didn’t get much sleep that night for praying over and checking on him. Around 5:15am the next morning, as I began to ready myself for work, he came back to “life”, wanting water and food, then finally getting himself up to guard the bathroom door while I showered. I was so relieved!
I cannot claim to have been perfect through all we went through together this year. There were days where, out my sheer exhaustion, I’d get mad at him for not making it to his puppy pads, then end up in a pile of sobs in his fur, apologizing to him. He always forgave and licked my tears away. Or, I’d unexpectedly work late and it would make Zeus mad being home alone for so long, therefore, after mustering up the energy to throw his weight around, he’d ignore me for a while. (He would use his big caboose to pin me against the kitchen cabinets or the wall to get his point across.)
At one point I knew I had to shut off all the noise and did so in order to focus on our health…
Hell is Watching Something You Love Slip Away…
Watching my beloved, constant companion and closest source of love deteriorate before my eyes since February, was torturous. Not a day passed that tears didn’t fill my eyes, as my puppy struggled to get up from the floor, his hind quarters growing weaker with every passing week. That stress is very hard on a 15 year-old dog weighing 115 lbs. I recognized the relentless, genetic, degenerative disease that often is passed through this breed was beginning to overwhelm Zeus’s aging body. He certainly fought against it; some days he was full of energy, meeting mommy at the door, but mostly was so tired and in such a deep sleep, he didn’t hear me enter. That, wasn’t my Zeus. That, was the disease.
I’ve had to deal with a lot of guilt over his rapid decline this year. The only place I could find to live upon leaving my marriage, that would allow me to have him, was an apartment with stairs. Zeus had struggled with staircases since I adopted him, so having to take even a short flight, several times a day, was very hard on his body. This is what did him in. He’d had problems with falling over his own feet since I adopted him; I simply thought that he was a bit clumsy due to his size. I now know, after doing a lot of research on Degenerative Myelopathy, that “clumsiness” is an early sign. As time passed, it grew more and more difficult for Zeus to handle the stairs, and our walks, without falling. A few times I believe God saved my poor boy from serious injury after some scary falls down the stairs. Zeus never ceased to amaze me with how tough he was. He would always turn mishaps into a silly moment and get right back up, even when I could tell he was hurting.
Zeus grew increasingly fearful of the stairs, until one day, he made the decision to stop going down them, no matter what. I tried to coax him. At his size, I couldn’t get him down alone by hoisting his hind legs up. Not even Zeus’s favorite thing in the world, car rides, could entice him down the steps. At that point, I decided to keep the deck door open and covered in puppy pads; he being a smart boy was easily trained to adjust. But over time, it became an issue of his always making it out there in time. This turned into messing inside, even in the night hours, in his sleep – often interrupting my sleep in order to clean up. Over the last month or so of his life this increased to all hours of the day. I realized, my boy was fighting nature and didn’t deserve to suffer this way.
Just as in my marriage, God was allowing me to begin the grieving process before the time came. My daddy knows me well…
“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)
In case you missed it, click here for Part 1