My poor dog, Larry. He tore his ACL a month ago, and, in compensating for the injury and trying to bear all weight on the other leg–he tore that one, too. He is not a candidate for surgery, and the healing is slow and painful. He will not run, or jump, or chase balls joyously across grassy fields, any more. He will not be able to wrestle with his best friend, Ivan. As the ligaments and muscles heal, his body will stabilize the joint with bone spurs and arthritis. My magnificent canine athlete will forever limp along on a leash, getting his exercise with slow and careful walks, taking pain pills to help him manage his everyday life.
I am so sad for him. All the activities that he has loved most in life are over now for him. It is a glimpse of the end. He will die one day, and I will lose him, my faithful companion and buddy. I sit and pet him, feeling the grief already, perhaps years in advance. Then I realized this: I am projecting. It is me who feels anxious and worried. I have much to learn from this loving canine being about acceptance and trust.
Larry lives in the present. He isn’t worried about what might be, or not be. He regrets nothing, not even the activity that damaged his legs. He counts his blessings, so to speak. He loves us. He is happy that I come and pet him, happy that I put his leash on him and take him for that slow walk. He is thrilled with his dinner, and takes his medication, dipped in sour cream, with great eagerness. He is happy that I stop by and talk to him, rub his ears, fuss over him. His eyes close in bliss when I brush his sleek shiny fur. When his knees hurt, he accepts that fact and lies down without whimpering, to rest and heal, secure in his trust that he will be cared for, that he is loved. His tail thumps loudly and steadily against the floor whenever we come into the room, because he loves in return. He revels in attention. He is humbly grateful for everything given him. He happily uses the ramp we bought him to climb into the car. He loves to go for car rides, to accompany us on errands, to be included in family activities. He chases balls in his dreams, and one day will be able to swim and fetch sticks again. And he will find great joy in that.
It is a different reality. Change can be so hard sometimes, but Larry isn’t worried about it. I would do well to take this lesson to heart, to learn to live each moment with joy and love, to gratefully trust that the Lord will watch over Larry and I both, with loving kindness.