Hello, my dear friends!
My daughter Anna was 9 years old when I took her to look at a litter of Australian Shepherd puppies. We walked into a backyard filled with frolicking multicolored fluff balls! It had been her dream to have a dog since she could speak. The day had finally come. Now the big decision...which one? Anna had read books about how to choose and care for a puppy and so she was ready. She went to her knees to take a look at the puppies and in that moment a beautiful black-tri Aussie pup ran into her lap and sat down. We have always laughed about the fact that Anna did not get to pick out her puppy because he chose her. We had no idea at the time what an incredible adventure Anna and Freckles (that is what she named him) had before them.
Anna and Freckles were inseparable...quite literally. He slept in her bed. He sat at her feet when she ate or did her schoolwork. If Anna was outside, so was Freckles. When Anna was sick, Freckles laid by the couch next to her. If, for some reason, Anna left for the night, Freckles slept in the foyer until she got home. They were completely devoted to each other. Freckles liked the rest of the family, but he LOVED Anna. The one place we could not let him be with her was when she took a bath. He hated her being in the water and would grab her by the hair and try to pull her out. One time she was washing her hair in the sink. She had just put her head under the running faucet when Freckles "came to the rescue" and dragged her out by the seat of her pants. He learned to open the door handles in our home so he could follow her even behind closed doors. There was no denying that Anna and Freckles had a bond that was deep, loving and sacrificial.
One morning when Freckles was 6 months old he fell to the ground, shaking uncontrollably. We had no idea what was wrong and thought maybe he had eaten something that poisoned him. By the time we got him to the vet, he was no longer convulsing but was lethargic and seemed confused. The vet looked him over and told us that he thought Freckles had canine epilepsy. He went on to explain that dogs with canine epilepsy usually did not live long and that the seizures usually got worse and more frequent. There was medication you could give to control the seizures but doses had to be given each day...without fail for the rest of Freckles' life. In the end, he recomended that we have Freckles put down rather than put ourselves through the cost, inconvenience and the time it would take to care for a dog with this condition. We did not take his advice...we couldn't and I am glad we didn't.
Freckles lived 3 more years. Anna gave him his medication everyday. When his condition got worse, she had to give him multiple medications everyday and even with the medicine, Freckles still had seizures from time to time. It seemed these episodes would always come in the middle of the night. Anna would hold his head, stroking him and speaking softly until the shaking was over...and there was always a mess to clean up afterwards as well. Never once did she complain...she just persevered and persevered month after month.
One December afternoon we could tell something had changed with Freckles. He was having trouble walking. Even with this struggle, he would try to follow Anna throughout the house. Something was wrong, so we packed up Freckles and Anna and were off to the Emergency Vet. There we found out that Freckles' liver was failing and it was not that he could not walk, it was pure pain to walk. The vet explained that he only had probably days to live and the loving thing to do would be to let him go peacefully right now because every moment would be excrutiating pain. Anna had to make a decision and at 12 years old she made the difficult one. To care for him a few more days would not have been hard for Anna...she had been doing that all his life, but to let him go now would act of selflessness she would do because it was best for Freckles. The vet came in, and Anna told her that she would go ahead with the injection to put him down. We were told that they could give him the injection and stay with him until he passed, but Anna would have none of that...she had travelled this road with Freckles this far and she would see him to the end. As I write this tears fill my eyes because I remember it so well. How the vet came in with a thick blanket and laid it on the floor, telling us that when we were ready, to have Freckles lay on the blanket for the injection and then she brought in Freckles. Anna had slumped to the floor in the sorrow of her decision and when Freckles came through the door, he walked straight over to her and started to gently lick her face. She loved on him for a few minutes and then he did the most amazing thing...he walked over and laid on that blanket! It was as if he were telling Anna, "You made the right decision for me. Now it's time to let me go." Anna put her precious boy's head in her lap and gave the sign that it was ok for the vet to go ahead with the injection. And my little 12 year old Anna loved her Freckles until he breathed his last breath.
She is who I thought of when reading this chapter about perseverance. Her dream didn't at all look like what she had envisioned, but she persevered until the very end...she finished well. I think back on that day when Freckles chose Anna. He definitely chose the right girl... I am so glad he did...Anna's time with Freckles changed her forever.
It made me think about my own dreams, how some of them just don't look like what I thought they would. I have mentioned to God many, many times...only He could possibly know the exact number...how much I dream of living in the country. And yet, here I am on the east side of Lancaster in a home that, though I love, I have found myself yearning for the "dream." Hence, the chapter on contentment was wonderful for me and perspective changing. This chapter on perseverance was the balance for me. I have found that I can still dream my dreams and be content at the same time...a total "God thing" for sure! I can persevere here in this place while I pursue the dreams that God has placed in my heart. Just as obvious as it is to me that God had Freckles chose Anna for purpose, so it is that God has chosen for me to stay put here for His good purposes as well. I am confident that my sweet Lord is trustworthy with my dreams, and He will give me the strength to persevere each day as I walk forward in His will. Until then I keep learning the lessons He has prepared for me and finding treasure daily when I take the time to look.
Blessing on you, sweet sisters as we walk this adventure out together with perseverance!!!