Friday, January 23, 2015

Death in the Family

This is Sasha.  Twelve years ago my dalmation died of old age.   Twelve years ago I said, "I'll never get another dog."  If you've been there you know what I mean.  Well, that lasted 2 weeks.  I was driving down the road and in front of the pet store there was the humane society with a bunch of puppies staked out on chains in hopes of people adopting them.  I saw this puppy with a huge head and paws.  I did a U turn.  An hour later I was a dog owner again.

Our dog was part of our family.  I made sure she realized she was a dog and not a human.  When I would wrestle with her as a puppy my wife would ask why I was putting her in a headlock and pulling her tail and grabbing her ears (it was playful not painful).  I explained that one day we might have kids and I want her to be tolerant of kids messing with her.

Two years later our eldest man-child came along.  She became his friend.  She was a pillow, a horse, a companion in the backyard.  She would step between us is she sensed discipline about to happen.  She protected him.  Sasha was part of our family and our children loved her.

Last week for the first time, in my ten year old's life, we found ourselves hugging and both crying together.  I've held him many occasions when he cried but this time it was different because I was crying right along with him.  His buddy, Sasha, died that evening. 

For the first time our children were dealing with death on a personal level.  So if you haven't been there yet here is what we did, not saying this is the perfect way or the best, but here is how we handled it.

We cried together.  She was a family member.  Our home would feel totally different to our children because they never experience life in the Lawrenson home without her. 

We shared together.  The next night at dinner we talked about our favorite things about Sasha, best memories.  We printed off a pic for my son to hang in his room.

We are having a memorial service.  Hey, I'm a pastor, I can do that.  We ordered a little plaque to put in the backyard.  We will place it and talk about our good old dog. 

Kids are resilient.  The twins bounced back that day.  My eldest lost his roommate so this is taken him a bit longer but he's doing great.  They have even talked of getting another dog but we are gonna hold off on that for a while.  So they have handled their first "death" well and I think this is a good experience for them since we never know when we will have to deal with a death.

So no more vet bills, buying dog food, trips to Pet Smart.  But I'll miss her laying at my feet, sitting by the fire pit with me, barking at the UPS truck, and the low, "I'll tear you to pieces" growl", when someone came up our steps.

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