Now that our "interactive stuffed animal" (He looked like a giant Webkinz), is gone, there are so many lessons I can take from his life (the equivelent of a 91-year-old!). Here are five that stand out:
- Stop whining about the crummy stuff! - Buck up and deal with it...! About 5 years ago, Clifton went blind due to cataracts. That didn't stop him - he used his hearing and sniffer to get around. Then he lost his hearing. He was only able to smell and feel these last few years, but he still went outside... He still followed us around the house... He still explored new areas (moved furniture, a kennel). There was no whining - a dog can't complain all day long; he just deals with it. I wish humans were so adaptable. Jesus endured unspeakable pain before His death - nothing we go through will be as bad as that - so stop whining and buck up.
- Don't Hold Grudges...! Because Clifton was blind and deaf AND insisted on being "where the action was" (i.e. wherever we were in the house), he was under-foot most of the time. Quite often, we would trip over him when he unexpectedly darted under our feet, and I'm sad to say that he was inadvertantly kicked in the head a lot. *sigh* But we never heard a growl... a snarl... nothing. Clifton was as loving as always - every day. I've got two kids who whack each other the moment the first one makes a transgression against the other. I would love it if they were as forgiving as my ol', blind & deaf dog!
- It's the Simple Things In Life That Matter Most...! Clifton didn't need a fancy bed, or a fancy toy, or a bedazzled collar to be happy. He just wanted to be with us - snuggled on the couch watching TV... or gnawing on a piece of rawhide... or sandwiched in the bed between me and David. Above all, he wanted TIME with us... And TIME with your loved ones, is usually the best gift you can give them.
- It's Not Always About You...! When Clifton got "old," not only did he lose his sight and hearing, but he suffered periodic seizures, and he had warts all over his skin, and he had a few cancerous tumors removed. His stomach got tricky - and about twice a week, we'd come downstairs to find he'd tossed his cookies (usually on the carpet!), or had an accident (also on the carpet). It's easy to get angry when older beings fall apart - what was once strong and independent (and in a dog's case, trained!), is now weak, fragile, and messy. But real love is a choice - and we choose to give of ourselves to care for this dog (or this grandparent or this friend) no matter how messy it gets. Caring for Clifton may have gotten frustrating at times, but it's not always about ME... it's about making life better and easier for my friend.
- Love Unconditionally...! "A dog is the only thing on earth that will love you more than you love yourself." We are flawed, we screw up, but our dog loved us anyway. God is the same way - We make rediculous decisions every day, and God still gives us His unconditional love. Having a pet helps you love unconditionally and experience this back. We are blessed with 13 years of memories of our precious dog; he helped us become more loving people.
When God made the earth and sky, the flowers and the trees.
He then made all the snimals, the fish, the birds, and bees.
And when at last He'd finished, no one was quite the same.
He said, I'll walk this world of mine, and give each one a name."
And so He traveled far and wide and everywhere He went,
a little creature followed Him until it's strength was spent.
When all were named upon the earth and in the sky and sea,
the little creature said, "Dear Lord, there's not one left for me."
Kindly the Father said to him, "I've left you to the end.
I've turned my own name back to front called you "DOG," my friend.