Last Friday we had to say good-bye to our Great Pryenees Lance. Man, I loved that dog!
Is this not an adorable puppy? This was taken in 2006, when Jake was only 11 (he's pretty cute too, huh?)... now he's 17 1/2!
We had an abundance of morning glory flowers on my herb garden fence that summer~ I *loved* this picture of Lance! He was growing up quickly, wasn't he?
As many of you may know, we live on a small farm where we raise Nubian dairy goats, chickens, for both eggs and meat, and other assorted livestock and animals. Great Pyrenees are known as livestock guardian dogs. Lance didn't need to be told how important his job was on our farm.
He took personal responsibility for not only the livestock, but also for the children!
He'd do almost anything for a pancake or piece of cheese, but was a total gentleman, never "stealing" food from the children.
He did figure out how to beg though... his preferred tactic was to sit down and refuse to leave the house and go outside without some sort of food bribe!
I *love* this picture of Jacob trying to enjoy his pancake breakfast, totally surrounded by our three dogs!
A few weeks ago Tom and I noticed that Lance didn't seem his usual energetic self. We decided to take him in to our vet Thanksgiving week. There we received the totally unexpected news that our Lance's heart was failing him. The only possible medical treatment was going to cost $300/month and might only extend his life an additional 2-3 months. Oh my, how I hoped and prayed that the diagnosis was wrong.
I wanted to continue to see his laughing face around our house.
Tom works nights as a policeman. We have been on the receiving end of gunfire here at our house more times than I like to remember. (I'll share that story another time here) The Lord has *always* protected us, but I must admit, I felt more secure knowing that Lance was on patrol, always on the lookout for any potential problems.
As I looked through photos of Lance I came across several photos like this:
He spent a lot of time hanging out on our front porch... it was like his command post. From there he could keep tabs on all of the many going-ons around our house.
Most often when I would pull into the driveway and walk up to our porch he would try to get me to play.... "Come on!" he'd beg, "Pretty-please won't you play with me?"
He was so patient with the children, and with our other (less useful, but still very loved! LOL!) dogs. Here, our Great Dane puppy "Dude" was sitting on Lance to keep his bottom warm. So funny!
Anyway, as you may have guessed, our vet's diagnosis for Lance was not wrong. He rapidly declined until last Friday when we decided that we needed to have him put to sleep. By that time he couldn't even walk all of the way to the car, so the boys carried him to our minivan and Jacob and I took him in to our vet.
I kept telling myself, "It's "only" a dog, control yourself!" but I couldn't. I petted and talked to Lance as he took his final labored breath, relieved for him, that he wasn't suffering any more, but so, so sad to have lost him in the prime of his life. I simply couldn't keep from crying... Oh how I loved that dog.
I think part of the reason that I was *so* sad was that not only was he super-sweet and a fabulous guard dog for our animals and children, but I think that I really depended on him to take care of us when Tom wasn't here. Certainly my hope and trust are in the Lord, but still I do miss knowing that he was on patrol.
We are fine here though... busy with school and everyday life. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving... our oldest daughter Micah and her husband Joshua were able to drive in to our house and eat with us. We laughed and had such a wonderful time. Nathaniel, our oldest son who is serving in the Army wasn't able to come home for Thanksgiving, but he will be home in two short weeks... to stay for two whole weeks! Yay! We can hardly wait!
I get to go in to see my orthopedic doctor tomorrow and should find out when I get to stop using crutches... I think I'm getting very, very close. I am doing lots of swimming now and some aqua-running too. So, so glad to get to be adding activities, rather than the other way around. I am beginning to make plans for the coming triathlon season... so far I have signed up for the Kansas City Triathlon which will be held on May 18. It will be a *cold* water swim in a local lake... my first wetsuit race. Should be exciting. I'll be doing the olympic distance... a 1.5K swim, 40K bike and 10K run. I have a *lot* of work to do to get ready!
I am also hoping to compete in two half-Ironmans... the Wisconsin 70.3 in July and perhaps Branson 70.3 in September. Those are longer events, consisting of a 1.2mi swim, 56 mi bike and 13.1mi run. It will be a huge challenge for me... I'm *really* looking forward to all of the training that I'll get to do with my family and friends. I'm *so* grateful to be able to be active~ what a privilege!
Meanwhile we are in the thick of Christmas preparations here... trying to "keep it simple" and enjoy just being here with my family.
Rejoicing in the simpleness of everyday life here and God's provision in even the sad times,