Thursday, June 20, 2013

Dozer: Dozamo. The Doze Man. Big Daddy Dozer. Knucklehead. Slobberbox.

It is a sad day in our home; this morning around 7:20, our dog Dozer passed away. As it was apparent he was nearing the end, we were trying to get him to the vet to help ease his pain, but he passed on before we could get him there.

We got Dozer from a shelter in Chicago in August of 2009; he had been in the shelter system for more than a year. No one had taken him home - either afraid of his size or his medical issues, I guess. Oh well, their loss was our gain. We found out after we got him that he didn't have hip dysplasia (as we were told) but a ruptured ACL in his left knee. We could have returned him to the shelter, but he was such a great dog! If we had turned him in, it is doubtful he would have ever been adopted. So, we kept him - knowing that someday, he would rupture his knee again and we would have to make a decision.

As we got to know Dozer and he came out of his emotional shell from being in the system for so long, we learned that we had hit the jackpot of dogs. He told his own story: he was so well behaved that it was obvious someone had loved and trained him well as a puppy. He wouldn't hurt a flea. But at the same time, he came to us underweight (only 95 lbs! - you could see his ribs), sick, emotionally withdrawn, and with sores on his legs and elbows from laying on concrete constantly. We could tell that whomever had loved him so well had died or left in some way, and someone else who just didn't care had him - and left him outside for hours on end, and finally in some way he came to the shelter.

When Champs found him on on a Monday evening, he made arrangements for us to drive to Chicago the next night and bring him home. We brought him home at 11:30 at night on Tuesday (in spite of the fact that Champs had to get up at 4:30 for work). For weeks, Dozer (who was named Andre at the shelter) would do as he was told, but kept an emotional distance. As we worked with him, teaching him his new name, taking him for walks, playing with him and loving him, he slowly opened up and became this amazing dog with such a deep love for us - especially Champs. He obeyed me better than Champs, but he lived and breathed for the moment Daddy walked through the door every day.

Our four years with Dozer were awesome. We took him to the Freedom Celebration parade every July 4. It was so much fun to see people leave the parade and come to pet our dog. He loved to go on walks and would dance around the house until John was ready to take him out. Champs would play with him out on our driveway and Dozer would play growl and jump. From a distance, it looked (and sounded) like we had a monster dog, but it was all in fun. He never hurt a soul. At Christmas we would buy him a new kong-type rubber toy. He knew that smell and would help Daddy tear the package open to reveal his new treasure, and would demand to play right then and there. He liked to pretend he was the master of the house, but in reality, our 120 pound brut would cower before the cats - even going so far as to sleep elsewhere if our cat Jack was curled up on Dozer's bed!

Dozer was 10 years old when he ruptured his knee again a week ago. He'd already passed the life expectancy for his breed. We couldn't afford surgery, and it would have been a long and iffy rehabilitation for him anyway. We tried pain meds to help him through the pain while his knee scarred over, but they just didn't mesh well with his system and he's been sick the last few days.

It is so sad to lose our buddy, but I know that he adored Champs to no end, and helped a number of people who were afraid of big dogs to have a positive experience around one. He was sweet, gentle, funny, and a happy boy to be around. I won't miss Dozer Spit on my walls, but oh, I will miss our big, furry friend.

RIP, Buddy.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Forever I Will Run

"Only your love has captured my heart.
I hear you calling come, come, come.
So I will run, forever I will run
Unto You, oh God.
Where else can I go?
Forever I will run".

As we sang this in service today, I was thinking about what this song would mean to those sitting in the congregation. We have fitness enthusiasts who run. I could see them thinking of the consistency, the training, the constant running for the prize. Many have been delivered from circumstances they could not overcome on their own. I could see some saying "I will run" and meaning that they would flee temptation and danger and seek shelter in the everlasting... arms.

But I had a different thought than that. I imagined a dog whose owner has been away for days. Or a child who has been waiting at home all day for their father to come home. I heard those words He utters as He enters the room - the heart: "Daddy's Home!" And I saw the joy of that child, running with abandon to the door to be swept up into Daddy's arms. The joy of a faithful pet who can't contain his excitement and jumps and trembles with exuberance at being in the presence of his master who loves him.

Now, I know we're not small children, nor either a faithful dog. But He has captured my heart so completely. Where else can I run? Who else calls "Daddy's home!" and my heart runs to him in worship and praise? I want to remember this the next time life is overwhelming (probably later today!) - He is home, He has captured my heart - and I will run. Forever I will run.