Lessons from Loss

I lost my best (canine) friend recently and it's been a season of grief for me.

I have found a new dimension in my closest friends and also in some acquaintances.

God says He will never give us more than we can handle. He also said that a cord of 3 strands is not easily broken.

Put these together with all the other notes on community and it's pretty obvious that we need each other.

Having a dog provides so much in the way of fellowship, and virtually none of the problems (gossip, betrayal, jealousy) that dog owners can sometimes retreat into the dog bubble.

When the animal dies, there is a tendency to appreciate friends more. To want to be around and to need people more.

Maybe that's why dogs live about 12-15 years. Maybe it prepares us for saying goodbye to humans as they die. Hard to say, but though I do not plan to get another dog anytime soon, I am profoundly glad for the furry little creatures that the Lord has given us to enhance the joy and ameliorate the pain of this life.

I can do all things thru Christ who strengthens me. The joy of the Lord is my strength.


Goodbye Frankie

I feel like a brick has hit my head hard.

I'm in a daze, having lost my best friend in a very short time. Frankie (aka. Franklin B. Dog) has been my dog for 11 years, a loving mutt who really appreciated being rescued.

I am writing about this because it helps me to grieve. Also, as a writer, I need to express all the richness and detail of my life, including love and grief. It also helps to know that others loved him and love and support me. I hope it helps you. The sun also rises.

A short history of the diagnosis and the end:

He was 12 years old and I knew he was slowing down. But, the end was so very abrupt that I had no time to process before he was gone. The fact that he had virtually no time to suffer is comforting.

Friday April 24th I took him to Bank of America in Burbank. The tellers get mad at me when I fail to bring him. He was a little sluggish, but he had no remarkable symptoms. As we left, he refused to come down the stair. I knew something was wrong, but I was in a hurry. I carried him to the car and quickly deposited him in my apartment so I could run to the airport to pick up my mom, who was visiting for a few days.

From the airport, mom and I went to an event and then to a movie (a really bad one). When we got back home, I had to carry Frankie out to pee. He didn't want to move and the facts about his health that I had blocked out came rushing back. I took him back inside and went to bed, preparing to take him to the vet in the morning.

Sat. April 25th at 5:30AM, I awoke to sounds of Frankie's grand mal seizure. I ran over to him and prayed over him and the seizure stopped.

At 8:00AM, we arrived at the vet and Frankie immediately had another seizure. The vet kept him for awhile while we went home.

We were scheduled to pick up the dog at 12:30PM. I didn't like the fact that the girl on the phone wouldn't tell me what was wrong, but she insisted I speak with the vet, who was not available. When I arrived, the vet (whose English is much better than my Korean, so we used English) told me he was really bad and I needed to make a decision. He said I could spend 10s of 1000s to discover what was wrong (he suspected poisoning or a brain tumor) and then put him down, or we could put him down. Mom and I talked (thru the tears) about options as we watched Frankie stumble around the kennel room, drunk from the narcotics. But, at least the seizures had stopped.

We asked for some oral Phenobarbital for when the shot wore off and took him home to ponder the inevitable. I stopped at the pastry shop next door to the vets and bought a raspberry tart for Frankie with tears streaming down my face. I'm sure they get a few such purchases each month from despairing pet owners like me buying a last meal.

We went home and Frankie soon had another seizure. That was the fleece that I had set to tell me if I must say goodbye to my faithful friend today. Oh, God must it be today. The answer came, yes today.

So, I called the vet and arranged to meet him at 7 to say goodbye to my dog.

I called all the neighbors and those I could think of that really liked Frank. If I forgot you, please know I wasn't thinking straight.

We swapped some Frankie stories and my little boy got the rest of the pastry, some chicken noodle soup and several hot dogs. He was happy.

Later in the vets office, I held my beautiful beast as the pink liquid coursed into his catheter. There was no noise or light or fanfare. He simply lowered his great head for the last time and slept.

Franklin B. Dog was a home maker, a sleeper, a slacker and a lover of people. He served as the erstwhile mascot for the 168 Film Project and was a great actor, who did not get distracted and was nearly perfect at hitting his marks. He was the perfect canine companion for me, a single man with too many goals and dreams for one lifetime.

I found him in 1998 when I was looking in the paper for the date of a Lloyd Cole Concert. There I saw a pic of a freak of nature. It was a dog with an enormous head and three legs. The SPCA had taken his pic and neglected to photograph his fourth leg. Since he was depressed, living in the institution, he had lost a lot of weight so his head looked Enormous. Mystery solved.

I went down to look at him, knowing I didn't want or need a dog (though I always had them growing up).

He was an intimidating-looking dog, so I asked them how many people he had mauled. None (but). But what I asked. Under the breath, they mumbled the fact that he likes to chew things up. I don't care about that, I said.

After they dropped their objections about me living in an apartment and after they were satisfied that I wasn't spending the $75 to acquire a fighter, they gave me the keys and let me play with him. I fell in love with him completely.

The next 11 years were wonderful. He gave me many laughs and a few tears, some anger (chewed up my couch, a Bible and many other things) and a real satisfaction that comes with caring for an animal.

We also made a couple of short films together, "New Best Friend" for the 2003 version of the 168 Film Project, and the soon to be released "The Chronicles of Hernia: the Lion, the Ditch and the Studio," due very soon (www.chroniclesofhernia.com).

Among his talents were acting, opening doors, frisbee catching, climbing trees. back scratch, back rub and much more. He tried to save me once by pulling in the tow rope after I had finished wake boarding. He let me into my office more than once when I had locked myself out.

I am sure that the Lord Jesus made Frankie specifically for me. Thanks be to the Lord for letting me enjoy him for 11 years. And for arranging for mom to be here to help me through the whole ordeal. Not exactly the vacation either of us had planned, but exactly what was needed. True difficulty is experienced alone.

As for the problem of time, I heard on the radio that the Lord gives us all the time that we require. If we don't have enough time, than could it be that we are doing something we shouldn't.

For the immediate future, I know I am working at about half strength. So now, much more than normal, I have no doubt from whence my strength, success and power come from.