To be clear, Champ is our one-year old English pointer that we have had for a few months now. With four kids and a love of running, my wife and I began the tedious search of finding the dog that was just right for our family. That was a Friday night after the kids were in bed. By Saturday, Champ had been “rescued” from a pet adoption service and was frolicking in the joy of suburban life with the Cox family.
Over the past several weeks, Champ has acclimated to life here. He has a bed in my home office, complete with a Mossy Oak pillow, a backyard to enjoy and four energized children who love their new brother. Not only that, but me and Champ have logged quite a few miles together. I have greatly enjoyed taking him on long runs. Seeing I often do not get to run until late in the evening, he has provided me with a firm and enveloping camaraderie and a healthy dose of security.
Having said that, he’s not perfect! Our first “big purchase” for Champ was an electric fence. Our hope was to teach him the boundaries of the front yard so that when the kids are outside playing, we feel safe knowing that “big brother” has a close eye on them. An alerting bark from “Champ Boy” provides that extra blanket of parental care we long to feel.
It was not long, however, until the pain of the most intense shock to him was worth the thrill of an unleashed endeavor through the neighborhood. His strong thighs and long gate get him where he wants to go, and where we do not want him to go, quickly.
This inconvenience of pet ownership is accompanied by the occasional ruined shoe or toy left out on the floor when we leave for the day. It’s a nuisance to me and my wife; to the kids, it’s just part of the thrill of pet ownership.
Speaking of thrills, it was infinitely thrilling when I decided to take Champ along for the ride to the bank one day. Selah, our five-year old, joined me on our journey to the ATM to make a deposit. While standing there at the ATM with debit card in hand, a white dog with liver spots ran past my feet. Thinking that was odd, I looked down and there was Champ, seeking entrance to the bank. I picked him up, tossed him in the driver’s seat and proceeded to take my place there, when he jumped through the passenger-side window. Like a flash, he was gone. For the next fifteen minutes we looked through the Winn-Dixie parking lot for the dog. When I exited the parking lot, he darted quickly past my car and into the bank parking lot where he gleefully jumped into the car of a young couple. They held him for me, and I once again retrieved him…rolling up all the windows, as if I was the warden in a canine-correctional facility.
This week, I chased him for an hour after the three-year old allowed the door to open and Champ to escape. An hour later, cat-scratched, tongue-flopping Champ rolled over in a yard a mile and a half away from our home, as if to say, “I’m done; you win.”
Tonight, I needed my exercise. So, I hooked Champ onto my leash and away we went. It was a great run. He and I were in a positive groove, and I felt like me and him were pacing well. He was not pulling or lagging. As we turned onto the boulevard, we were 2.5 miles into our run, when all of a sudden, he pulled hard to the left, I pulled him back to the left. His collar went flying off of his neck and into the air. Sadly, he went flying even faster into the street.
Nick from Canada did not have time to stop. His GMC Denali traveling at 45 mph had milliseconds to avoid the collision.
Slow-motion, live action ensued.
As Champ lay there in the road, lifeless, I was in shock. My joyful nightly run turned to deep pain in my chest. My first thoughts turned to my children and how hard this was going to be for them. My heart ached for them. At least five minutes passed with no signs of life or recovery. What was I going to do?
However, the longer I nurtured and inspected his lifeless body, I began to see signs of life. His eyes began blinking….his mouth slightly opened….his ribs began inhaling…his bladder emptied…could it be?!?!?!
As it turned out, he actually regained consciousness. He responded to verbal commands; his tail wagged. A miracle!
When we got home, I shielded my children from the happenings, leaning heavily on my wife to know what to do. She jumped into the car and headed for the animal hospital. I stayed home with the kids, having bedtime, and more importantly, juvenile public-relations work to do with our children.
As the kids said good-bye to Champ with tears in their eyes, the emotions of what just happened finally hit me. We sat in a circle and cried…all of us. We prayed…all of us. The 9, 7, 5 and 3 year old…okay, the 33-year old, too…we prayed for Champ.
To be honest, I am not what they call an “animal person.” I love everyone, but find it hard to understand “animal lovers,” especially the “crazy ones.” : ) I am a pastor. I’ve given my life to serve the Lord Jesus Christ by winning souls, counseling couples, discipling converts and solving “people” issues.
Up until tonight, I have been asked a million times to pray for people’s pets or pet owners who have taken the sickness or death of a pet hard. I’ve sympathized but never empathized.
As I looked into the glassy eyes of my kids tonight, I wondered if Jesus would pray for Champ. I feel that he would for the following reason;
I prayed with fervency tonight because I hurt for my children. Their pain reached deep into my heart and pulled something up that had never been fetched from my well before. I was literally touched with the feeling of their infirmity.
With all the reverential care I had, I prayed consistent to the same intensity with which my children possessed in their Heavenly petitions.
We all embraced, and I sent them off to bed with this admonition: “Kids, just pray; it’s all in God’s hands now.”
I prayed because I love them, and they were hurt. I prayed because of their tears. I prayed because compassion was the only emotion appropriate for this moment in our lives.
Dear reader, Jesus Christ cares for you. In all of the pains and burdens in your life, none are so small, trivial or insignificant as to not be brought before Him. He loves you! He feels your pain and sees your tears. Cast all your cares upon Him; He cares for you.
The Bible says, “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16)
Thanks for reading my cathartic contemplations. I hope they are a help to you when the Champs in your life are bruised, too. God bless!