It hurt today as I said goodbye to Max. Our little dog would have turned 13 in a few days but he never made it. He was getting weaker and on Monday he was so sick that I stayed home from work with him and held him most of the day. I had to carry him as he had no energy even to come back in from going outside.

There was nothing the vet could do and as a family we said goodbye to a close friend and a member of our family. The tears were many as we petted him, hugged each other and watched as he took his last breath.  When you lose a pet there is a deep, painful sadness that hits you.

Surrounded by reminders

Everywhere we turned in the house was evidence of Max: blankets, toys, dishes, kennel, brushes, treats, food, and pictures. I can’t believe he won’t be there when I come home with his tail wagging or waiting for us to give him a treat when we leave him to go out. As I sat at my computer I heard a dog bark outside and without hesitating I started to get up thinking it was Max wanting in from outside. I’m struggling coming to grips that my little guy is gone.

Pet lovers know what I am feeling and each of us dreads the day that is our little buddy’s last. It is a fear we all share together, I know. After I posted a note on Facebook we received a flood of messages, emails, calls and texts. Many people relayed their fears when that day comes for them and their pet.

Living in the moment

What I am really glad about is that I took Max for a walk days before. He didn’t have much energy but he really enjoyed sniffing around at the park. I knew he was low on the energy part as we walked back home and passed another little dog on a leash. Max would often get his tail up, sniff a little and then try to start the battle! Not that day. He simply wagged his tail even when the other dog snarled at him. Max was just enjoying the day and nothing could change that. It will be a tremendous memory for me.

In my deep sadness came a realization that I need to live in the moment more. As the Bible says, “Make the most of every opportunity”. This may sound strange, but I felt a thought from God reminding me about the fun walk Max and I had and that I need to do that more; making the most of the moment I am in and enjoying the family and friends around me more.  I rearranged my schedule today when my daughter wanted to spend time together. Maybe that will be Max’s legacy to me: live in the moment more.

From this experience I have learned a few things. One, it is very good to send a message of condolence to a grieving friend. Keep it short and maybe share a memory. Two, live in the moment because we never know when it could be the last. Thanks Max for the memories and the lesson. I miss you.

Experiences like these can lead to depression or even despair if we aren’t careful to address what’s bothering us. If you are feeling depressed or despairing of life, you may want to consider contacting a mentor to talk about it, privately & confidentially. It may be helpful to read the story of someone who went through tough times but emerged victorious at the end. And it may lead you to ask, what’s wrong with this world anyways?

Written by Neal Black

Neal Black

Neal works at Power to Change developing leaders. His passion is to challenge people to listen to God and develop their giftedness as they follow where Jesus leads. Neal and June speak at One Day events for FamilyLife. They love to communicate God’s game-plan for relationships with humour, energy and lots of stories!