Putting a dog to sleep is difficult. Especially a friend and companion of 16 years.
The first time we knew we had a special mutt was when she was a couple of months old. Our one year old son was doing the “edge” crawl around a coffee table in our living room. One of my daughters yelled, “Dad! Tippy bit Justin!”
At that point, a brand new puppy biting an infant seems ironic but you immediately start thinking about euthanasia techniques for the puppy. Before I could do anything, Justin hauled himself back up and proceeded to continue maneuvering around the coffee table. Tippy followed and nipped Justin’s rear end. Not a bite, but a nip. Did not even make a mark.
It hit me. We had a mixed Collie mutt that was mostly Collie. Collies are known for herding sheep and keeping them in line by nipping the sheep’s rear ends. Every time Justin did his edge crawl too fast, Tippy nipped his butt and he would sit down. Tippy got a treat for that!
Living in Colorado, we had a lot of long grass on our five acres. Whenever city folks came over, I would locate Tippy in the long grass. All you could see above the long grass was her long black tail with a white tip. Hence, the name, Tippy. Pointing her out, I would tell our guests we had a huge skunk on our property. Watching the long black tail move through the grass, they would believe me until Tippy ran out into the area where we cut our grass. Then she began her next trick. Her herding instincts took over and she would run circles around kids playing in our yard, as if they were sheep. Tippy maintained a great perimeter, running all the way. Her barking told us when one of the kids was wandering outside her perimeter.
Previous to Tippy, we had an apricot colored mutt that was more like a poodle. She died of a strange form of dog leukemia. Our 10 year old blonde headed daughter was heartbroken over that loss. I think that was the first time I cried over a dying dog because she wept so hard. Six months later, we brought home Tippy as a puppy. Our daughter took a little time to warm to Tippy but they were soon inseparable. Since we home schooled, that was just about all the time.
Here is the deal. God used a puppy to teach our daughter about loss then loving again. A poem about Helen of Troy declares that those who dare to love again have the greatest courage. Tippy taught all of us that lesson but our little blondie learned it the best. Tippy revealed that God uses his creation to teach us so many lessons.
Our daughter’s last visit, Tippy got confused, escaped through our fence and could not find her way home. We did not locate Tippy at an animal shelter until after our daughter returned home to New York City. We hoped our little blondie and Tippy would have one last reunion but it was not to be. Tippy’s arthritis, blindness, and pain reached a point where I had to carry her to her bed. The real hero in all this is my wife. In Tippy’s waning months, my wife cleaned her eyes and wounds, gave her medications, got her out for bathroom trips in the backyard. Both of us wept as I carried Tippy to the car for her last trip to the Vet.
As Tippy slid into her final sleep, all these images came to mind. She was such a runner. Nobody could catch her if she escaped out the door but she would come to me if I sat on the ground. She loved having her ears gently scratched and would nuzzle my chest like a cat with her big long collie muzzle. Thinking about sixteen wonderful years with her, I scratched her ears and she nuzzled me until her eyes closed.
Prayerfully, tearfully, I thanked our father in Heaven for those wonderful years and gift of Tippy. I am not sure how it works but I hope that when my wife and I lead my family to the throne of God, in a complete circle, not one kid, spouse, or grandkid missing, Tippy will be barking and running around the circle as we receive the applause of Heaven.