I could see them in the dim light of dusk.
His arms were wrapped tight around his father's neck as he sobbed.
My five year old little boy was crying as his father tried to comfort him.
My Farmer had just told our son that our old dog was dying.
I could see it coming.
The arthritis in Fido's back legs has progressively gotten worse over the last year;
his sudden inability to manage the stairs has limited him.
These past couple of months,
his age has become more obvious:
thinning, fussy appetite, sleeping all the time.
I have often had to lift up his back legs when he needs to get up to go outside,
especially if it is rainy.
Still, he has been well enough to keep from messing in the house,
and his tolerance of the kids and our life makes him a pleasant friend.
Then last Saturday, I'd heard my Farmer say that Fido hadn't eaten any breakfast.
He had noticed he wasn't drinking anything either.
I had company coming after church the next day,
so I was so busy cleaning and cooking,
I didn't really have time to baby a dog.
I tried to give him a drink a couple of times,
offered him a piece of bread,
but he wasn't interested in either.
I figured he'd come around when he got hungry enough.
But that night,
he wasn't getting up at all.
He still turned up his nose at the sight of water
or anything edible.
I began to be a bit more concerned.
Sunday was no better.
Nothing interested him.
We hurried off to church
and then home again.
I wondered if he'd just given up on living since we got the puppy,
but I felt better when we got home and I saw he was lying next to the puppy's kennel,
a great effort on his part to get over there to do.
When our friends were leaving that afternoon,
my husband trekked over to where he lay in the grass
and lifted Fido's head in his hands.
Fido was motionless and it seemed his head flopped,
like the life had left him.
I felt my chest heave and tears brim up in my eyes.
I thought he was gone.
I hurried over, but I saw he was still breathing.
I sat next to him and began rubbing his belly.
He seemed so weak and barely there.
While my farmer went off to feed the cows,
I fetched some milk in a little bowl
and took it to him.
He wasn't interested, but I held him and coaxed him
and he drank a few laps.
The next morning,
he was still unable to get up.
I wondered if he'd had a stroke and forgotten how to eat and drink;
or maybe he had just given up.
His eyes looked tired.
Lillie wanted left-over soup for breakfast
(she likes meals to start her day sometimes),
so I gave the broth she didn't want to Fido,
and he lapped at the tiny bit that was left half-heartedly.
Shawn told the kids that Fido was dying.
I could hear them sobbing from where I was in the garden.
I think Violet might have had an idea as she notices what we talk about,
but Levi is often in his own world.
It hit him much harder than I thought it would.
His sobs and crying didn't stop.
I could hear him asking my Farmer about death
and why dogs had to die.
I talked to him about it later that night before bed.
He told me he was going to pray that Fido wouldn't die
and that if he did, he would come back to life again.
I smiled a sad smile,
wanting to say nothing to crush his faith,
but wanting to say something to make him accept the reality of Fido's death.
He was too old, too weak.
But my faith is too weak.
I didn't want to make my kids think that God would disappoint them.
I didn't want them to think God didn't have interest in dying dogs.
I was afraid if I didn't prepare them for what was going to happen,
my son might be disappointed in God.
In my own way to try to control things and prevent hurt,
I thought I needed to do things for God,
to soften the reality of life and death for a child.
Later, as I got ready to head down to the basement where my husband had carried the dog to lie,
having no left-overs to offer Fido,
I looked through the cupboard for something,
but nothing stood out to me
except a can of old pumpkin pie filling.
If he didn't want it, it wouldn't be any loss.
I opened it
and when I took it down to him,
I was surprised to see him lift his head and begin to lap at it.
He managed to eat about a half a cup,
and I felt happy that at least he'd had something he enjoyed
if he happened to be gone in the morning.
I rubbed his belly, rubbed some arnica gel on his sore feet again
and went to bed with a heavy heart.
The next morning, my Farmer told me that Fido had gotten up to go out.
He wasn't walking on his bad leg,
but he was able to hobble out on his own.
Later, for the first time in three days,
Violet said she saw him limp into the creek and lap up some water.
It's been a week.
Tonight at supper,
Levi prayed over the meal.
His prayers are usually the longest of any of ours
because he tends to try to include all of us in them
and any random thanks that he thinks of mentioning.
Tonight, he said this,
Thank you for our food.
Thank you for Daddy, Mommy, Violet, Lillie, and Me.
Thank you for the cows and calves,
Moon and Tiger and the chickens...
and thank you for making Fido's foot better."
Yes, he has gotten better.
He's gotten his appetite again and is drinking and walking again.
Only God knows how long Fido has,
but He saw fit to hear some children's prayers and increase their faith;
that when all hope is gone,
He is still there.
I thought our dog was going to die most certainly.
I saw no chance for Fido, no prayers worth saying.
But my son did.
"Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child,
the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven."Matthew 18:4
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