Goodbye Ol’ Friend (Jordan Shaw, July 3, 1997 – November 15, 2011)

-Can’t say I’ve ever written a letter to a dog before.  However, as I say goodbye to you, my furry friend,  I want to thank you for several things.  I think you know them, but it’s therapeutic for me to write them down.

It seems a mere “blink” ago when Wyndham and I decided, while on a marriage getaway, to look for you.  We found you in Maine and stopped by to surprise the kids with you, while on our way home.   They were at teen camp, and were so thrilled they could hardly contain themselves.  I felt an instant kinship with you, as we got carsick together on the way home.  Proverbs 6:6 tells of what we can learn from watching the ways of an ant.  Let me tell you ten things I have learned from watching you – the ways of a Golden Retriever.

  1.  You stretched yourself. – You were pretty fast yourself, but as a youngster I loved watching you run with Pharoah, the neighborhood greyhound.  You tried so hard to keep up…and made yourself stronger and faster by having a buddy like that.  I, too, always need to surround myself with people who are better at things than I am.  It makes me grow.
  2.  You thrilled at your purpose. – You came from a hunting heritage.  It was a beautiful thing to see you hunt pheasant (as I’ve seen from the videos). You gave your master, Wyndham, so many great memories.  Your instinct was natural.  God made you to hunt birds…and you did it well.  Though perhaps a “spoiled bird dog” you didn’t hesitate to the thrill of finding birds.  (Well…except the one extremely cold, rainy morning when you knew Wyndham was going hunting and you hid under the covers at my feet.  He looked all over for you.  I told you I wouldn’t tell….but finally had to “spill the beans” – sorry… however I heard you did enjoy it).   When you started to get too old to hunt you went out with the new little guys (the goldens we got for Sam and Kristen) and  showed them what to do.  You trained them when you got too old to run.  Likewise, I know I am so much happier when I am living out the purpose for which God created me.  And…as I age I want to be all about passing what I have learned on to others.
  3. You made friends with everyone. –  I called you the “mayor of the park”.  Since we live across the street from a park you assumed every person or dog that came was there to be your friend.  So many people in this town know your name.  You loved everyone.  You joined in a few soccer games, ended up at neighbors ‘ homes, and even had little girls down the street come knock on our door every afternoon after school to ask, “Can Jordan come out to play with us?”  You have introduced me to so many people, and remembering your ways encourages me to try to make friends with new people.
  4. You loved children. –  You were the best dog a kid or grown up could have.  You made Jacob’s transition into our home so much easier for him…as you seemed to understand Romanian better than anyone. He had many conversations with you. You raced our kids down many a hill while they were sledding.  You welcomed each of the grandchildren – and even let them ride you like a horse.  Even in these last few days, feeling so badly, you patiently lay still while Micah held you around your torso to hug you and kiss you.
  5. You cared, in your own doggy way. –  You had a keen sensitivity to emotions.  Whenever I was sad you would just come close to be near.  That’s all.  Whenever anyone came over to talk with us… if they were hurting or crying you always chose to sit close to them.  Somehow you knew.  I see how sometimes just being there…really helps.
  6.  You took care of your “little brother” and endured his neediness of you. –  Poor Blackie (our cock-a-poo, named by Jacob, who got him for Christmas 10 years ago) will be lost for a while without you.  He has never known life away from you.  He slept inside of your four legs all scooched up to your stomach.  Thinking he is part cat, he constantly groomed you..from the insides of your ears to your gums (I know…disgusting)….and you let him!  Even last week, though you can’t walk, you somehow managed to get up when he was being chased by a dog.  You were a great big brother.  I can sometimes get annoyed by others’ neediness.  May I learn to have the patience you showed.
  7. You weren’t afraid to ask. – You loved sweets, particularly chocolate chip cookies.  I never could resist those eyes.  They caused me to give my food away to you, even the last licks of my ice cream (and I don’t like to part with my ice cream).  You assumed I should have a piece of popcorn and then you should get a piece…and back and forth we would go.  You mastered the art of propping your head on my knee and giving me the “sad eyes”.  You loved our “Nana and Papa nights” where you got lots of pizza from begging with all the grandkids.  You were persistent…and it worked.  While I don’t want to be a nag…sometimes I lack the courage to ask for things.
  8. You never had a bad day. –  You were so consistent in your demeanor…always happy.  You got lyme disease several times, hit by a car once,  skunked a few times, and were constantly losing your hair. (Wow, I even think I’ll miss using the lint roller several times a day.) You were in pain often this last year but never complained.   You just stayed happy….this is one more reason it’s just hard to say goodbye.  May I be as content as you were.
  9. You grew old with dignity. – These last few days, you tried so hard to help us out when  it came time to carry you outside.  I know you wanted to do for yourself, and it was  hard on you to be so needy.  When you could still walk, you would sometimes need an encouraging word to go up the stairs but you would push yourself hard.  I think you would truly rather die than “mess up” in the house.  You like privacy when you do your business.  You remind me that…even though you are a dog…you have dignity about you.  How much more do I need to honor those who are aging and show them dignity and respect.
  10. You lived to please your master. – This is what stands out to me the most, old friend.  You truly did live to please your master.  Nothing pleased you more than to please first Wyndham, and then me.  As I write this with tears streaming…I pray that what can most be said about my life is that I live to please my master.  Nothing better could be said.  Thank you for 14 golden years, golden boy.  I will miss you more than you know.

Eccles. 3:1-8

    There is a time for everything,

        and a season for every activity under heaven:

        [2] a time to be born and a time to die,

        a time to plant and a time to uproot,

        [3] a time to kill and a time to heal,

        a time to tear down and a time to build,

        [4] a time to weep and a time to laugh,

        a time to mourn and a time to dance,

        [5] a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

        a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

        [6] a time to search and a time to give up,

        a time to keep and a time to throw away,

        [7] a time to tear and a time to mend,

        a time to be silent and a time to speak,

        [8] a time to love and a time to hate,

        a time for war and a time for peace.