“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)
Despite my not desiring to, God led me to memorialize everything this big bundle of hairy love has meant to me. Not to be warm and fluffy or seek sympathy, rather, in attempt at moving me to feel and allow my deep grief to spring forth. I won’t pretend I’m not devastated by putting my angel dog to rest. The silence and emptiness of my home without Zeus is deafening. I’ve been numbing myself with background noise because I don’t know how to handle the heartbreak this brings.
But, my heavenly Father is good, and despite my sadness there is peace in my soul. This tells me God was in the decision. The morning of, I was seeking His face and the Lord spoke into my spirit, telling me that letting Zeus go to heaven is His way of moving me forward and releasing me from the stress and burden; that he waited to move me to a decision about Zeus’ life during a week where I was off work and rested so I could think more clearly. God showed me I couldn’t continue to keep Zeus alive based on my need for him. God understands how I see my dog, that I feel like he is all I have left; the only true, tangible form of love I have since God began taking away those I love in 2014. This dog has been my constant on earth through the loss of my grandparents, an abusive marriage and every hard family issue that arose over the past year and a half.
God helped me make the decision when it was time to finally let my fur baby go so he could be restored to perfect health. I had talked to Zeus for a while about his life and what was happening. I talked to Zeus about the decision I had to make and why. And…that dog…he understood. On his last day, sensing what was happening, that dog fought. He fought to stay with me and to stay alive. To continue on as my companion and protector. (More than I can say for some people who’ve been in my life.)
The morning of his vet appointment, because he wanted to show mommy he was still able, Zeus found the strength to get himself up and out to his puppy pads to urinate, multiple times in fact, even though he would lose his back legs after just a couple of moments of walking. As I witnessed how hard he was trying, there was a moment of second thought…but God whispered a gentle reminder that my dog no longer had any real quality of life…did I desire that for him? No…no, I did not. I wanted him to be healed and the only way for that to happen was returning him to The Creator.
Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust
With the help of two earthly angels, we got Zeus out of the house and walked him gently down the stairs, then hefted him into my SUV. I tried to comfort him with the prospect of going for a ride, giving him a cookie, and sitting in the backseat with him for a bit. At the vet, another team of angels assisted in getting my boy inside. He walked himself to the door after we got him out the the SUV, but would have to rest every 30 seconds. It brought me great joy that he got to lie in soft, green grass after months of not being able to. He was such an nature loving dog!
Zeus received much love and encouragement from the earthly angels assisting him. Once inside and situated in his room, the ladies gave me a few minutes with him, and I prayed for God’s peace to overcome us both and for Zeus to go without issue. In turn, God gave Zeus a distraction in the form of a curious black cat, walking around in the hallway, while his angels shaved, then inserted a catheter into his leg. (I was so grateful!) He was such a good, calm boy through it all.
But again, this dog…he fought: He fought the sedative to stay awake. I kept having to lay him down so he’d relax. Sadly, one thing will haunt me for a while: his tears. Yes, he cried a bit; seeing this tore my heart into a million pieces and the memory continues to! I gave him a lot of love and reassurance as he finally faded off to sleep. It apparently took him a bit longer than normal to “go” after the vet administered the medicine that would stop his tender, beautiful heart.
The vet left me alone with my fur baby for a few moments; I cleaned up his coat, plucked up fur that had been petted lose and wept over his still body. I caressed his handsome face one last time before we wrapped him up in a blanket, then piled his earthly body into the back of my SUV. After I closed the hatch, I stood there alone and completely lost it. I allowed myself to feel the loss as I sobbed and sobbed until the waves ceased.
After finally pulling myself together, I drove off to bury him at a dear friend’s farm, a 45 minute drive away, in Northern Kentucky. Upon arriving, after fighting to get her own dogs in the house, she greeted me with an understanding hug having been through this herself a time or two. We lugged his body into a wheelbarrow and drove him to the place she’d prepared beneath a big, beautiful tree. We had to dig the hole a bit deeper and wider as she hadn’t realized his large size, then we lifted his lifeless body into the ground with his babies and balls, covered him with the earth, and covered the grave with rocks to prevent scavengers from digging him up. Zeus loved flowers, so that morning while out buying his resting sheet, I picked up a planter of pink wild flowers and buried them atop the grave. I hoped he liked them!
Praising the Lord Through All Things
As I drove away that day, I did not want to feel my grief but allowed it to come in waves. All I knew to do to help myself was sing praises to my Lord, Jesus. I plugged in my iPhone, turned on my favorite worship CD and invited the Holy Spirit in so I could make it home in one piece. My Zeus loved to hear his momma sing. When I’d rehearse for choir or a solo, he’d sit attentively nearby, listening with a joyful look upon his face. So, on the way to bury him, I sang to his spirit as it was being taken up to heaven then after his body was returned to the earth, I sang for him and my Lord, in gratitude for this amazing creature I’d been gifted with loving. After rolling down all the windows, I cranked up the music, raised my free arm in worship, and allowed the wind to carry my voice away, as I drove that long stretch of Kentucky highway, toward home.
I asked the Lord to take my grief and he gave me peace, joy and gratitude through the tears…
The next morning, I was overcome with the realization I’d no longer be greeted by Zeus upon waking. While lying in bed, amidst my sobs…the Lord showed me a vision of my boy, running through a vast field, restored to perfect health. At one point, he stopped, faced me and began to bark. He looked really happy. My beautiful puppy then lifted his paw as he used to when wanting my attention, then smiled his silly tongue in cheek smile with tail wagging. Zeus barked again, then ran away so I could see him in all of God’s perfected glory. Painful? Absolutely…but God knows I need something positive to grasp onto during the waves of heartache over Zeus being gone.
I do not have children so in a way Zeus filled that need within me. I do not wish making this kind of decision on anyone. Even though in my family we’ve lost many in the past 5 years, mostly to cancer, thankfully the Lord took them home soon after the decision to cease treatment was made. Having to make this type of decision about a life, whether it be human or pet, is hard when you love someone/thing deeply. It was a lesson in how not to play God with life he has given. How to let go of someone dear, despite our emotional needs; instead, doing what is truly right for them – in life or in death.
I am grateful, LORD GOD, for the strength and courage to do that for Zeus, thank you! Thank you also for my wonderful sisters in Christ who, despite their physical distance, have kept me covered in prayer and have checked on me through this time and continually…it makes all the difference in this world! I am so very blessed!
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)
Rest in Peace my beloved, Zeus – you were so much more than a pet! Forever in my heart! (6/3/2017)