It’s always surprising to me who is there when you need them and who isn’t. My dog, Sugar, was one of those “always there” friends. In fact, she was good for a snuggle for each person in our family when we needed it. We lost her today after 16.5 years.

Sugar taught me more about God than most people that I know. Here are a few examples:

Disobedience

During our first year with Sugar, she was WILD! As fast and beautiful as a deer running and jumping, she continually jumped our 6 foot privacy fence. That act was always followed by me, Marla, Rebecca, and little Matthew chasing her all over the neighborhood. Once I caught her after an hour or so of humiliation and chasing, I would take a newspaper to her rear. That didn’t work too well.

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(Daniel and Sugar when they were about 3 and then at around age 14)

A friend (Thanks Rick Theobald) then said, “If you knew that you were going to get the newspaper, would you come or just keep running?” He suggested “throwing a party” with her, including plenty of hugs and rubs when I finally caught her. It worked!

Love had more effect on her than hardcore discipline and unkind words. She wanted to please me.  Once I got that figured out, she would follow me anywhere and always came running when I called. People can be like that too if you love and encourage them. Lesson learned.

Watching Her Master

When I walked into a room where Sugar was, I automatically had her undivided attention. She would raise her head and was attentive to only me, watching my every move and waiting for me give her the command to come with me. Usually she wouldn’t even move until I told her to do that. She loved just being with me.

It was like she was always just waiting to hear my will. She wanted to know it and she wanted to follow me. If I was going to walk in the backyard or neighborhood, she came. If I was going to the car, she would jump in on my command. She would sit, roll over, stay, or even get my morning coffee. (Ok. That last one was an exaggeration.) She did it all because she loved me.

 

I desire more than anything to be that focused on my Master and want His will. I want to go when He says go and follow His commands. I’m not always as focused as Sugar. I can get distracted from my Master sometimes. Sugar was an example to me on how to relate to my Master and Creator.

Tender With The Weak

Sugar loved the kids. She was very high energy but Daniel used to actually lay on her as a toddler. She didn’t care. They were almost like twins. They were only about 6 months apart in age. I used to say that they were identical twins and you couldn’t tell them apart unless they were walking.

IMG_0775.JPGShe was also protective and had an uncanny ability to know who was friends and who really wasn’t supposed to be at our house. She would put herself in between the kids and danger. I saw that several times. She was a protector and a shepherd of kids, in a sense.

Even in her later years without teeth, she was willing to “gum” to death any intruder that she perceived as a threat to the kids.  (Since her teeth were pretty much gone.)

As I lead my family and my church, she was a great example to me. There is an enemy that wants to destroy those that belong to Him. I am the shepherd, appointed by the Shepherd. I pray that I am as attentive in protecting my flock against the wolves as Sugar was.

IMG_0763.JPGLast Days

Sugar’s last days were tough. She had to drag her hind legs to walk. Her food seemed to go right through her and she looked like skin and bones. She couldn’t hear but she would still follow my command to “come.” Because she had grown deaf, I had to begin motioning for her and she would respond, although a lot slower than she used to.  It was like she didn’t want to leave us.  16.5 years is a really long life for a boxer.

On one occasion during the snow this past winter, Sugar went out to use the bathroom. She wandered into the neighbor’s yard and had trouble getting back because the snow was so deep and it was snowing so hard. When I found her, she had actually just laid down in the snow. I think she was giving up at that point. She would have frozen to death if I had not gone to her.

I went through the snow to her and with my encouragement, she decided to keep trying to get home. She got up from the snow and followed me to the warm house. Lesson from Sugar: Sometimes our friends need our encouragement to keep going.

IMG_0769.JPGToday I had to help her into the car for our last car ride and our last walk together. We laid in the grass a while, together hung out in a field, and then we walked together to the vet from the field next door to the church.

As always, no leash was needed. She followed me slowly when I gave the motion to “come” as we walked to the vet’s office. (I felt alot like Abraham must have felt as he walked up the mountain to sacrifice Issac to God.  Issac had no idea what was happening but he followed his dad.  Sugar followed me because I asked her to, just like always.)

She went to sleep as I rubbed her. She was a good dog. She was a good friend.  I will miss her.

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