Sunday, July 3, 2016

Lessons from Lou: A Life Well-Lived

At the ripe old age of fifteen, Ole Lou died. He was still smiling. 

Last week, I wrote about The Value of a Life. In case you haven't seen that post, Lou was my much loved pound-dog. By the end, I had to feed him with a spoon. I almost put him down, but we waited because of that big doggie smile. 

Late Thursday afternoon, I sat under the gardenia bush (no easy task) and fed him an entire can of dog food. I was so proud of him for eating so much more than usual, and entertained a brief fantasy that, despite his age, he might get better again.

The old adage, you'd have to get better to die, came to mind about then. He wasn't improving. He was dying, and I knew it.

I buried him yesterday under a big oak tree. I wrapped him in one of the twin-bed sheets Ryan used when he went to camp as a boy. It still had his name on the corner. It seemed fitting. I hauled Lou's body across the yard to the grave we'd dug a couple of weeks ago. Sam, Ryan, and I all dug a part of the hole. I filled it in by myself, tears falling on the dirt the entire time, and it was oddly therapeutic. Come fall, I'll plant azaleas over the grave, because he loved resting under my azaleas. 

He wasn't the smartest dog I've ever had, but he was the nicest. I learned a lot from him and maybe you could, too.

1) All life matters. Even dogs. I didn't really love crawling on my belly under the azaleas to feed him with a spoon, but I did it, and it was worth it. I learned a lot about sacrificing myself for someone else from Lou. It was a lesson much needed and well-learned.

2) Kindness should be our default mode. Lou barked like crazy to warn me when visitors arrived, whether they were human visitors, stray pigs, stray donkeys, or neighborhood dogs, but he wouldn't hurt a fly. Unless you threatened me or his boy. Then, look out. If he knew you, though, he greeted you with a smile and a wagging tail. No matter how bad he felt.

3) Sometimes, the presence of someone who cares is all you need. There were some tough times during the fifteen years Lou lived with us. In the hard times, Lou would walk along with me and nuzzle my hand as we walked. He'd sit beside me, rest his head on my lap and watch me with his big brown eyes. There was depth in those eyes that said he'd seen a few hard days himself, and we'd get through. And we did.

4) In the end, love matters most. When Lou was too old and worn out to run and play, he still did the one thing he did best. Love. He loved his humans. He loved Maggie and Mamie. Even when those little dogs prodded him with their noses and rambled all over him, he was patient and kind. 

5) Life needs to be lived all the way to the end. Even on the last day of his life, Lou wagged his tail and smiled. He walked a few feet with me. He rested his head on my hand. He loved me. I almost "euthanized" him a week ago, but I'm so glad I didn't. He suffered some during those few days, but he loved more. 

I know Lou wasn't a human. He was just a dog, but he was a good dog, and I'll miss him for a long time. I'll miss the rambles in the woods and the way he greeted me when I came home after a long day, but those aren't the main things I'll miss. 

He loved me the best he knew how, and that's what I'll miss the most. 

I'd be a better person if I lived the way Lou did, so here are a few of the lessons I learned:

- Have perfect faith in my heavenly Father for His provision. 

- Always be kind. 

- Love everyone with my entire self and my entire presence.

- Live life well, all the way to the end. 

"But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13:13 nasb
In case you missed them, here's the link to Lou's post (The Value of a Life) and here's the link to yesterday's post: The Golden Gate and the King Who Will Walk Through
If you're doing the Hosea study, chapter ten is ready and here's the link: Hosea Chapter Ten. (They get easier as you go along.)

Tomorrow, to celebrate Independence Day, I have several posts scheduled, so be sure to check back off and on throughout the day.

#doglove #love #disciple