Our Dog Died Today

Today we’re mourning the loss of Jude (2003-2015), our 15-year-old black lab. He was a great dog from beginning to end.

We knew for some time that he was nearing the end. He mostly laid in the sun and slept this spring. Evenings were hardest for him, as his hip was giving him problems. But every morning, he’d meander out of his kennel, fetch the ball once, and then find a spot to nap in the shade.

Last night, I came home to find him unable to get up. We knew it was time. So, after we told the kids this morning, they each said their goodbyes and we took one last picture.

The oldest two sat with him in the shade from 8 am until the 2 pm appointment. They never left his side. (Our oldest got him for a birthday present on his 1st birthday.)

Dr. Rivers at Somerset Veterinary Hospital did a fantastic job with putting Jude to sleep. She came out to our van to spare him the stress of being carried inside to a foreign setting. She explained every step to the older two boys who were with me. She even cried and offered a hug. This is a place that loves animals well.

Our friends offered to let us bury him in a stand of trees on their acreage. Our oldest two learned that digging a grave is hard work. The youngest even pitched in with the digging after the older two gave out.

After we put him in the grave, we stood as a family and talked about why it is okay to be sad. God made everything good—and animals are a good gift from him. So when good things go away, it is right to be sad. Tears mean we loved something good. As someone once said, “Every lament is a love-song.”

We talked about how death entered the world through sin, but Jesus’ death and resurrection have overcome sin and death. One day, he will make a new world, filled with good things that will never die. And because we trust in him, we’ll join him in that world.

We finished by reading a “Liturgy for the Loss of a Living Thing” from Douglas McKelvey‘s book Every Moment Holy.

Then we covered Jude with earth, planted a sapling over the grave, and went home to await the day on which all things are made new.