For Love of a Dog

On this third day of Christmas, I revel in the tender love of a dog, in forgiveness, and in hope.

He’s ten years old, our yellow lab.  He’s been grumpy since we had our third and then fourth child, and I’m convinced it’s because he didn’t move up the chain of command, remaining at the bottom of the totem pole.  He is above this role of dog, but it’s his lot this life, to watch over and guard this crazy, chaotic, precious family.

Sitting with him at the vet, wondering what was wrong with him, thinking he was surely dying, praying to St. Francis, I tried to make sure my touch was tender, intentional, and soothing.  It was okay if he was dying, so long as he wasn’t in pain.  And would he please forgive me for not loving him as unconditionally as he was and is loving and loyal to us.

It turns out he has a broken — completely broken, up by the hip joint — femur in a back leg.  He only whined a bit.  He still wags his tail.  He just wasn’t eating and moving around.  Otherwise, we probably wouldn’t have known.  Turns out he also has arthritis in a front leg, but the limp he should have he doesn’t.  Our dog has a high pain tolerance, apparently, and he’s healthy for an overweight ten year old lab.

It comes down to whether or not we’ll pay for the surgery.  There are risks, of course, but with our attention and care, he should recover fine.  He seems to have hope, and we realize how much we love the old dog.  So we’ll hope he’ll live another four years, continuing to bless us with his fur, farts, and unconditional love.  Yes, some of that I could live without now, but for today, our family remains six plus two furry critters.

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