“Lizzie” was a once in a lifetime dog, chosen with care by my daughter Lisa with me. She was a smart little puppy, with sparkling dark brown eyes, floppy ears, a tiny but long brown body, with a tail that wouldn’t stop wagging. She won our hearts immediately. Lisa had decided on another pup – the runt of the litter – but Lizzie had tugged on my pants leg as if to say, “Choose Me! Choose Me!” and so we did. Since Lizzie was a registered Dachshund breed, with the American Kennel Club, her ‘legal’ name was “Lisa’s Lady Liz”…but to us she was six weeks worth of life, love, and licks who fit perfectly into our lives with ease, bringing happiness with her wherever she went.
At the age of two, Liz gave birth to her first, and only, litter of puppies, six boys and one girl. Because her litter was unusually large for her breed, Lizzie became quite ill and lost her milk, so ‘Fur Mom’ took over the feeding schedule. The doctor had told me that she would not regain her milk, and would probably become disinterested in her puppies, but not our Liz! She mothered them constantly, and as I would place down each nursed pup – she would clean them from stem-to-stern. Her dedication was unwavering, and within three weeks she had regained her milk, and had taken over full feeding until their weaning. During this time of handling a household of puppies, we had an opportunity to purchase an eight week old male Weimaraner puppy, also a pure breed with the American Kennel Club; who we named “Jason’s Lord Luke.” Lizzie took all of this in stride and chose to mother Luke along with her own; and also, cleaned him along with her own pups – while training him to her every bark. It was amazing to watch – as this reminded us of the Disney movie, “The Ugly Dachshund,” Yes! They became a natural comedy act together!
When each of my babies, Jason, Desiree, and Drew entered into our family, Lizzie loved and accepted them without question. During my pregnancies she would wrap herself around my protruding tummy, and many times, her head bounced as my baby kicked her from within my womb. She also tolerated all their loving attempts; from the pulling of her ears and tail, and of course, the many ‘tight-tight’ hugs of love. Like all of us, she needed to be scolded for her naughty deeds, but forgiveness flowed easily with Liz. And whenever any of us became sick, sure enough, Lizzie was there to cuddle and comfort us – as she had become a very precious and intricate part of our family.
We had just celebrated Lizzie’s twelfth birthday on April 26th, gratefully, as Lizzie had endured through a year of so much illness – and seemed as if she was slowly dying as her joy, and energy, was almost gone. Her stomach had swelled up because of her infected liver and kidneys, and she had also lost control of her bladder. Also, her hips had given out, making it nearly impossible for her to walk. We had been back and forth numerous times to her Doctor, and even though she was medicated, her illness was now conflicted by her age. One evening I noticed blood all over our kitchen floor. At first I thought that Lizzie was bleeding from her anus, but to my horror, her back paws were so flattened out by her swollen body, and her infection was so vast, that puss mixed with blood was oozing out of her paws. I knew then, that before our very eyes, our precious Lizzie was disintegrating. As I looked at her lying there, I asked the question, “Would God forgive me if I had Lizzie put to sleep?” I called my Mother as she calmly told me, “Darling, we have a most merciful Heavenly Father. Let’s pray together that God will either take Lizzie tonight, or that He will give you and the doctor wisdom when you take her in tomorrow.” And as night fell and bedtime came – I, once again, lifted Lizzie up to God in prayer and asked that His will be done, and that my decision would be clear. I also lifted her back onto my bed to sleep with me, a twelve-year habit that we had been unable to break. As I knew in my heart that this was for the last time.
The day started off like any other day, with the family scattering in all directions. My appointment at the Care Animal Hospital was set for 2:00 p.m. And as I drove my mind racing from one thing to another – hoping for a miracle – while trying to trust my Heavenly Father for the outcome. And as I now sat uncomfortably in the hospital waiting room, trying to fight back the tears that were simply waiting to run down my face – a woman walked in and sat down next to me. Immediately she started asking me questions about Lizzie, “Is she pregnant?” “NO!” I answered, wishing she would stop talking and go away. I watched as new pets arrived with their parents – and heard this same woman asking them questions who would then proceed to talk to the individual animals. For a few moments I found myself enjoying this caring woman, who obviously had a tremendous love for animals, especially, since she had arrived with no pet of her own. Again, her attention turned to me, as I bravely explained about Lizzie’s condition and the decision I had yet to make.
“Lizzie Storm – Room Three!” announced the nurse. I picked up Lizzie and walked into the sterile, uncomfortable room and waited. The doctor arrived. As we talked and considered all the possibilities for Lizzie – my tears now worked their way down my face, as his words pierced my heart. “I can cure the infection, but Liz has already lived one year past her life expectancy for a Dachshund. And she is in terrible condition. She could have cancer and she is most definitely in pain both physically and emotionally. I cannot guarantee that I can right her enough to have a normal life again. I can, however, put her through tests that will be very painful for her. The most humane thing to do is to have her put to sleep.” All the time he talked, Lizzie nuzzled her little head under my arm drawing closer to me, as she always had, me being her mom and protector. The doctor went on, “Lizzie would be dead within two seconds, the shot is painless, and we would do it while you are still here.” I could hear myself choke out, “Alright.” Without a hesitation the doctor said, “I will leave you for a few moments to say your goodbyes.” I held Lizzie as close as I could possibly hold her – and told her how much I loved her, as my heart broke. I thanked her for being such an amazingly wonderful puppy and part of our family and for loving us the way she did. My precious pup, of twelve years of love and devotion to end, as I whispered to her, “Please forgive me,” as the moment had arrived. I held her little face in my hands, looking into those gorgeous big brown love eyes and said, “Goodbye my Darling!” and she was gone.
A cloud of darkness, cold and damp, immediately swept over me as I sat waiting in the sterile room – still hoping for a miracle. Sobbing openly now, all my control was gone, wishing I could call him back and rescue my precious Lizzie. The doctor returned, “Brenda, Liz is dead, I am deeply sorry.” The finality of those words were more than I could bear. Oh! How alone I felt. I tried to compose myself; as it seemed like forever, before I could make my way down the hallway to leave. As I turned the corner there stood that woman who had sat with me in the waiting room, with arms outstretched – as I rushed to her like a little child and wept safely in her arms. She told me how very sorry she was as she tried to comfort me saying, “I know how hard this was for you,” and all I could answer was, “Thank you for being here;” and ran outside into the open air. Oh! How I needed to breathe – as the heaviness of grief was already on me – and I just couldn’t believe that I was walking away without my precious Lizzie, my baby, in my arms.
When I woke up the next day I was overwhelmed with feelings of gratitude towards that woman who had walked with me – and realized that I didn’t even ask her name. So I called the Animal Hospital and requested her name and address so I could thank her personally. I described who she was and the situation – but they did not know who I was speaking about – and did not even remember the incident – other than being aware that our Lizzie was now gone. I was awe struck – as the reality that our Heavenly Father had reached out and tenderly touched our lives, especially, during this most difficult time – when a choice between life and death had to be made – was beyond my comprehension. As our Shepherd, Jesus Christ, had been by my side all along, setting up a personal support system to help soften my decision and my pain – and to catch me when I was falling. He prepared the doctor and sent a caring woman, a Ministering Angel, to love and comfort me – and also to hold me – filling my immediate need. The scripture that came to me was, “If He cares and knows each Sparrow that falls, how much more does He care about me!” Yes! He truly is God over all Creation, and He is also, our Abba Father who deeply loves us as His own.
Yes, Life has gone on, but the precious memories of our Lizzie, of an Angel, and of our Heavenly Father’s unfailing Love, has been indelibly written on our hearts to treasure forever – never to be forgotten…
From my heart…