Friday, August 31, 2012

This is Dakota, BJ's dog. I know I've referenced him before. I've probably even told stories about him, here.

Dakota is an Australian Shepherd/Basenji mix. He is about 14.

Back in the late 1990's we decided we were going to get a dog. Our family piled into our van and drove to a couple of different humane societies to find the "right dog." We looked at and played with many.

Our last stop was the Indianapolis Humane Society. We walked in and began to look around at way too many abandoned dogs. We had not been there long when BJ sat down in front of a kennel and said, "Dad, this is the dog!"

My reply was something along the lines of, "we're going to look at several dogs, BJ."

We did.

We took dog after dog out into the play yard to get to know them. Each one quickly abandoned us to look at any other distraction that came along. All of them, except for Dakota.

He was 6 months old, and had been named Cassady by his first owners. They moved out of state and could not take him with them.

Their loss was our gain. There was a required waiting period at that time. It wasn't easy to leave without him. He ignored everything but us. He was "our dog."

When the day came that we got to bring him home, we were all very excited!

He quickly became a member of our family. He loved playing fetch, chasing Frisbees and occasionally catching them and bringing them back. He captured the attention of many because of his unusual cinnamon coloration.

Through the years, he became most attached to my son. They were best friends. BJ and Dakota spent a great deal of time together. Dakota waited for him to get home from school, and got antsy when he knew it was about time.

They found great joy in one another.

Dakota had some other favorites in my family.

He went on many trips in the car, and would usually by sense of smell, know when we were near specific destinations. He remembered them by their aroma. He became very excited when we arrived at certain places. Especially my brother Brad's. His whole body would start to wiggle almost uncontrollably when we neared his place.

Sometimes I would tell him, "Brad is coming over," and he would bark then run from window to door, looking for him. He wouldn't stop until Brad arrived.

He has brought us a great deal of joy through the years.

When BJ went into the hospital, Dakota was lonely. Especially since he had just returned from being in Peru for 5 weeks.

It is very emotional for me when I  remember watching Dakota look for BJ, after he had passed. Dakota would walk into his room and sniff the air, then turn and look at me with the question on his face.

Our home in Tulsa has a shelf where part of BJ's ashes rest (some are also on a mountain top in a Muslim nation in North Africa). From time to time, Dakota will walk over to the rosewood box and sniff it for several moments.

I believe he remembers.

When we moved to Tulsa, we left Dakota with Brad. We knew we were going to be gone for 6 week periods at a time. We felt it was unfair to him. Brad has a dog of similar age, and they got along pretty well.

Roughly three years ago, we asked to have him back. He has been a resident of our home in Tulsa, since.

He is getting old.

When Deanna and I were in Peru this past summer, we had Lauren and Weston, and another dear friend look in on him. They did well, with him, but it was a hard summer for him.

When we arrived home, he had been incontinent for the last couple of days. We honestly have struggled to know if it was incontinence or if he was expressing his displeasure at his circumstances.

Arthritis has set in. He struggles to move after he has been sleeping.

I confess I am having difficulty with this winter season of his life. I cannot handle watching him struggle. We have had many conversations about the inevitable.

This past week, he was incontinent (or annoyed with us), again.

Today when I went home for lunch, I watched him struggle for 5 minutes or more to get up.

I bent down to help him and tried to get him to just lay still, while I stroked his coat. He just loves attention, and forced his way up. He is so sweet.

This is the season that tends to be difficult for us to negotiate. It's been about seven years. Somehow, it would seem fitting for Dakota join BJ.

We have once again asked the Lord to take the decision from our hands.

This one will be somehow, easier to make. Still, he is BJ's dog and his loss will be very difficult on many levels.

I just don't want him to suffer.


Seeking His strength even in these details. My God cares about such things and wants us to bring Him glory even in this. We are seeking to walk with integrity and compassion.


dad



19 Comments:

At 7:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am glad that I was able to see Dakota again on this visit with you and Deanna, he brought me a great many smiles and was a real companion while i had him here in Indy. It is hard to see him move so stiffly when he rises and settles, but his happy, wiggly nature hasn't diminished. I know this time is very hard for the two of you and I pray for the best...i'm only sorry i didn't offer to bring him back here, though i don't think you'd have wanted to give him up.

I love you guys very much and appreciate your letting me visit.

Brad

 
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At 11:01 PM, Blogger Rachel said...

Hi there,
I started reading about BJ when I was sixteen years old. I'm now twenty-four and thought of BJ tonight. I made a bracelet back then that said "Pray for BJ," and I found it the other day. I never knew BJ or met him, but I still think of him and of you, his family. I pray for you and also rejoice with you. Thank you for continually sharing and keeping the memory of BJ alive.
Blessings,
Rachel

 
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