19 years. It’s been 5 presidential terms; 5 leap years; 5 Olympic games. It’s 133 dog years. It’s a long time.
And for every bit of those 133 dog years, my loyal pal Zippity Doo Dog, was about two paces behind me as I walked around the house. One, if I was in the kitchen & cooking.
He was faithful amidst junior high annoyances- like never getting first chair flute because Amber Garrison always did. He was a constant companion through my heartache when my parents announced we were moving yet again and I’d have to attend my third high school. And after my freshman year of college, he was there to meet my future husband who traveled to Tulsa for the official “meet the parents.”
Some fabulous life milestones transpired with my most faithful furry friend by my side…ears pierced, appendectomy, first crush, high school drama, driver’s license, high school graduation, the Y2K fiasco, college graduation, getting married, first ‘real’ job, church planting, home renovation, three kids, 9 moves, and 4 states. When friends disappointed me & when life kicked me in the britches, my dog faithfully wagged his tail and only knew love.
On Wednesday of last week, we made the difficult decision to put him down. It was time and I’d delayed the inevitable long enough. It wasn’t easy, but it was right and I do not regret our decision.
We decided it would be best to tell our three year old before the dog just disappeared from our family and felt it important to tell him the truth. So, I sat him down and explained that we were taking Zippy to the vet and that he wouldn’t be returning.
Pierson’s first question, “Will he go up in the sky and be with God?”
I attempted the best I knew how to answer, “I hope so. I know God loves animals and his creation, and I hope that he will go to be with God.” I elaborated a bit more and waited for the next question. But what came next, I didn’t quite expect.
“Can we get a cat?”
Oh, to be a young child again.
I still ‘hear’ the sound of his paws across my kitchen floor or think I need to take him out before remembering he’s no longer here. Nineteen years of loving a pet isn’t easily undone. And the tears still flow. But I wouldn’t undo the years. Because experiencing the loyalty and faithful love of a furry friend is something that everyone should have the privilege of experiencing; And an experience for which I will forever cherish.