For almost 50 years now, Janet and I have had dogs and/or cats in our family. In fact, right after we were married we actually adopted Bobby and Sassy, two border collies, who were our first pets when we lived in our very first home together, a small apartment in Darien, IL. We have had pets longer than we have had children!
Unfortunately, Sassy contracted distemper and for the last several days of her short life, I sat with her until her time came to cross the rainbow bridge. Bobby was fortunate – he didn’t get sick, and was our pet for a number of years. Since then, we have had four cats and an untold number of dogs who have been our companions regardless of where we have lived. And they have been joyful additions to our home!
Throughout it all, we have adopted animals that were, for the most part, unwanted by anyone else. I think we would both choose the same course again if we had it to do over again. Beau, our Bichon who we had for 16-1/2 years, came to us from a family who had a German shepherd and then decided to purchase another dog. Beau was almost killed by the Shepherd and the family decided to get rid of Beau. We were fortunate enough to get him and he was a wonderful part of our family.
Sadie, our first Doberman, was a gift to us for my work as VP of Fundraising for the Hamilton County Humane Society here in central Indiana. I served on the board for years and in an act of appreciation, they gifted us a one week old red, female Dobie. The first time I saw Sadie, I could hold her in the palm of my hand with lots of room left over. Of course, we couldn’t bring her home for another seven weeks; and it was on Super Bowl Sunday that year that Dad’s Red Mercedes, better known as Sadie, officially joined our family.
Lexie, our next rescue, also happened to be a Doberman as well. She was used as bait to train Pit Bulls and was picked up near a ramp on an area expressway. She was nursed back to health and we adopted her. A small girl, she also brought joy to our home. I still miss her. Our current Dobe, Hank, was surrendered twice by the time he was two years old. We made arrangements to being him home between Christmas and New Year’s Day in 2015. He will be eight next month. For more than 25 years, we have dedicated a portion of our resources to rescuing and supporting causes that find homes for Dobermans.
This is just a small cross section of the animals that we have taken care of throughout their lives – and our 50 year marriage. Sometimes, but rarely, we have known the birth dates of the pets that we have had. And that’s where the title of tonight’s post comes in.
Dogust is the month long celebration of adopted dogs across the entire country. Technically, August 1st is the accepted birthday of all dogs whose actual birthdate isn’t known. While it is true that people also celebrate their “Gotcha Date” – the date the adoption took place – as a birthday celebration, Dogust has gained traction. Somehow, it seems fitting that we should spend an entire month appreciating those dogs who have found loving homes.
We are almost halfway through Dogust and so there is still ample time to join this annual month of celebration. We can donate food, buy extra supplies at pet stores for local shelters and even donate money for microchipping in the event that pets get lost. Of course, spay and neuter clinics can always use a little help as well.
One of the questions that I often get asked is whether our pets join us in heaven. While there seems to be division on this topic, Solomon, the author of Ecclesiastes, gives us some hope that we will be together in heaven. Tonight’s verse highlights the words of Solomon as he reveals his thoughts on the subject. We are told, in Ecclesiastes 3:18-20, “I also thought, “As for men, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. Man’s fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; man has no advantage over the animal. Everything is meaningless. All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.”
When Solomon says that we all go to one place, many people interpret that as confirmation that we will all be together in heaven. Those are comforting thoughts to many believers around the world. My encouragement this evening is that there seems to be biblical evidence that we will someday be reunited with our loved ones, as well as our pets. My prayer is that this month of Dogust we will be extra generous when it comes to taking care of orphaned and abandoned animals – they add so much to our lives. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…