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I am With You Always

by | Oct 18, 2014 | Comfort, Lessons From Pets, Relationship, Trials

Jesus said, “I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20) and this never rang more true through my soul than on July 26, 2008 when I had my beloved pet, Smook, put to sleep. I realized more then than ever that Jesus spoke these words not just to the disciples but to me as well.

Smook was a rambunctious Sheltie, and yes, my favorite “baby” among the scores of pets I have cared for. We were in tune with each other. He seemed to know exactly what I was thinking, what my next step would be, and he was there by my side (and underfoot) to partake of the day’s events. He was my shadow and when he wasn’t mine, I was his.

Let’s step back in time to 2002 with a Rottweiler we had at the time named Cujo. He was a big beast, intimidating to look at, but as looks are deceiving he had a gentle heart and tender soul. To this day Cujo is sorely missed by our family. During this time I picked up the Bible here and there, showed interest in the Word occasionally, prayed just as often if I didn’t fall asleep first. I didn’t quite grasp how to apply the teachings of the Bible to my daily life mainly because I was not willing or ready to listen. The Lord was ready show me, but I wasn’t ready to fully turn my life over to Him.

One day Cujo came in from his daily roaming and was acting odd and had a limp. After numerous trips to the vet and within a few short days we found out that he had been bitten by a cotton mouth snake, the treatable infection in his foot had turned out to be gangrene, and had to be put to sleep. I was utterly floored with the news.

Since my husband was away on a business trip, Sam (our son) and I had the heartbreaking task of saying goodbye to Cujo and having him put to sleep. Did I pray and ask Christ for help? No, it…He didn’t even cross my mind or my soul. Sam, I and, unfortunately, Cujo faced this utterly alone. Cujo got sick from the pain medicine and was vomiting and scared. I was a complete wreck and felt so helpless seeing Cujo going through this. I thought I was so strong and yet I felt so weak, helpless…alone. Sam also needing comforting and receiving nothing, grabbed my keys and wanted to go sit in the car. He was heartbroken seeing Cujo go through this anguish. The jingling of the keys stirred Cujo up onto all fours, and I begged Sam to put the keys down and to stay with me and Cujo. All of a sudden it was as though something took over Sam. Sam sat down on the floor and coaxed Cujo to lay his head on his lap. He comforted Cujo until he fell to sleep. Me, I was still in a whirlwind of emotional grief and told Sam that we have to go, that I couldn’t bear to see Cujo put to sleep. Cujo died alone, surrounded by people he didn’t know, that didn’t love him because one “Christian”, me, would not call on Jesus Christ. It was all about my pain, my grief…me and no one else, not even a beloved pet.

Let’s move ahead to 2007. About six months before I was laid off from work in 2007, I started reading the Bible more often (now daily) and praying just as often. I actually started looking for the Lord in my everyday life, and appreciating Him more, and focusing on me less. Through His magnificent patience, He started bringing meaning into my life and soul of the stories and lessons in the Bible. I started craving picking up the Bible and when life got hectic, looking for a way to sneak some time in to read. My lay-off was a blessing from God to give me more time to study His Word, and for that I will forever be thankful for. It has been a life transformation for me.

July 26, 2008 started off all wrong. I woke up late (which is unusual for me) and Sam had put the pups in the backyard (fenced). When I went to let the dogs in, Smook did not greet me with his normal barking and dancing, he just sat with the other three quietly….quietly, this is not the Smook I know. It soon became obvious that something horrendous took place in the back yard when I saw that Smook’s tail had been stripped down to the bone (the neighbor’s pitbull bit through my fence). My husband and I took Smook to the vet for what we thought would be a tail amputation.

“I will be with you always”…when the news came that Smook’s injuries were worse than imagined and that he had to be put to sleep, I was not floored as before, nor in a whirlwind of emotions. A sense of peace, comfort, tranquility, loving comfort and concern for Smook came over me. The Lord gently guided me in comforting and soothing Smook’s fears. I didn’t have to call on Jesus, He knew what Smook and I needed and He was already there and in control. The room was filled with His love and I could feel it as Smook was taking his last breaths.

Is Smook (all pets) in Heaven? I hope so but I also take comfort in this: In the beginning Adam and Eve had a pet in the Garden. When the earth was flooded, the Lord spared Noah, his family, and two of every form of animal. Animals are mentioned throughout the Bible. “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father” (Matt. 10:29). Lastly, my husband said “who am I to limit the grace of God?”

Ann Caskey