The Newman clan suffered a tragedy last week. Our family dog, Rascal, was run over by a car and killed. Don't get me wrong. I'm not going to equate the loss of our dog with the loss of a child. It's not the same. Losing anyone, or anything, you have a relationship with, still hurts.
People who don't own pets may have a tough time sympathizing. Those that do own pets fall into two categories: those who have lost pets and those who haven't.
Only those who have lost beloved pets really understand.
Fortunately for us, one of our neighbors falls into the "understanding" category. It sounds funny, but they sent us doughnuts and a sympathy card. I appreciated that card – and the doughnuts. (Mmmmm . . . Maple bar . . .)
The reason my neighbors knew is that they witnessed the event. It happened in front of their house. My six year old daughter saw it, too. That's the part that really bites. She and my wife witnessed the whole thing. They rushed our beloved pup to the vet, but it was too late. The vet couldn't find a heartbeat. I didn’t find out until I checked my voice mail later that day.
It took a few days, but we're not as teary anymore. Even my six year old is dealing with it, although I think she's having the hardest time. All she could talk about for two nights straight was how she couldn't get the image of Rascal turning in circles, and then lying down to die, after he went under the car. She's doing better now, thanks to long conversations, silent hugs, and our faith.
Yes, you read it right. I said (wrote) faith. I really do believe that there is a "doggy heaven." I just don't think it's called that. I believe that all creatures are created and judged on how well they fill the measure of their creation. It's not doctrine, mind you. It's just my own interpretation of scripture.
If I'm right, and the measure of a dog's creation is how well he takes care of the family he lives with, then Rascal is in good company. He loved our kids. He was very gentle with them. Even when my youngest would steal his rawhide chewy-bone and run around the house, with him chasing her to get it back, he was gentle. He knew it was a game, and he loved to play it nearly as much as she did. He was obedient, quiet, and showed unconditional love for us all.
It's still too early to have all the pain eased, though. That's a truth I'm finding out all too well, even as I write this. So for all of you I had to cancel appointments with because of an unexplained family emergency last week, I apologize. I hope you'll understand. I really hate doing business that way, but my daughters are just too important. They needed me, and I need them. For us all, Rascal wasn't just a dog. He was family.