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Monday, March 25, 2013

A TRIBUTE TO SMILEY, OUR BELOVED DOGGIE



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When our Happy, our 14 year old Shiba Inu died, we were devastated; me especially.  Then 2 months later, Smiley came into our lives.   Smiley was never more than a few feet away from me and usually under my desk with me.  He would especially hide out there during thunderstorms.  He was so afraid of the huge thunder claps and believe me sometimes I jump too as they can be so loud.  This only happens in the rainy season which goes on for about 8 months.  We've just been going through the dry season now.

Smiley was with us for 4 years and 2 months and on his vet card, his estimated age at the time we got him was 10 years old (I didn't spot this until about 6 months ago), so that would make him exactly 14 years and 2 months - dying at the same age as Happy.  If that's the case, what a coincidence or not?!  We think he may have been exactly as old as Happy when he died.  Would that not be the irony?  He even reminded us of Happy - with the same stature and coloring and not-too-different nature and the same walk/waddle.  Smiley had cancer - malignant cancer that was spreading.  The vets removed an invasive tumor in his mouth twice and he had chemotherapy twice, but the last time was too much for his old body.  I think he would have lasted a bit longer had we not tried intervention, although he would have had difficulty eating without pain - and Smiley loved to eat.  He would dance for his food.  His main occupation was getting more food to eat!  He was getting quite rotund as we found it hard to deny his enthusiasm for more and more food.  Anyway this last week he needed the stitches removed from the wound in his mouth.  Smiley wanted to bite, so the vet gave him a tranquilizer, except he gave him too much, we think (only the vet would know for sure. I forgive him.).  My husband knew it from the look on the vet's face.  Smiley's breathing immediately became labored and the vet mentioned that Smiley's heart was weak (two weeks prior the vet had told me quite the opposite.  Bit fishy?).  Anyway, Smiley never recovered.  When I went to fetch him he was weak and could barely walk. I knew something was dreadfully wrong and could not help crying. His breathing was labored and stayed that way for 30 hours until his death the next evening.  Smiley wanted to spend his last day outside and that's where he spent most of the day.  When it started to get cooler, we tried to coax him inside, but he did not have the energy to move, so my hubby picked him up and put him in his bed in the bedroom.

Sometime later we prayed and asked God to please help Smiley to pass quickly and gently if he was not meant to live much longer so that he would not suffer unduly.

Then Ian and I went to chat in the living room - sitting in the darkness - a bit in shock as we had been given false hope in the last 2 weeks that Smiley would still live for at least another year.  Suddenly Smiley called us from the bedroom.  In hindsight, I don't think he wanted to die alone.  Both Ian and I remained with him the entire time for the next two hours, held him, loved him, told him we loved him, thanked him, asked him to say hi to Happy for us and to send our love, etc.  Smiley could not have been more loved, nor could we have been more attentive.  He died on March 22nd, 2013 at 7:50 pm  in our arms, not really frightened as he gave his last few gasps for air.  Wow, it was traumatic for us - so very, very hard.  About half an hour or 40 minutes later our youngest son came by for a visit and heard the sad news.

I am devastated.  Smiley was my doggie - he wanted to be with me 24/7 and followed me everywhere - even into the bathroom when he could.  I know, I know...he was so attached to me but that was a bit weird. See Smiley was abandoned by his family and so was I...we had something in common.  We bonded, possibly even more than I bonded with Happy...although Happy's passing was more traumatic for both my husband and I.

Respectfully, please don't read any further if my faith in God offends you.  For those who share my faith, feel strengthened in your faith and comforted by what happened to me next.

That night after Smiley died and before going to bed after Jonathan, our son, had left, I was crying bitterly and on a whim I picked up my little book of prayers called "In this Quiet Place, Discovering the Pleasure of Prayer."  As God often talks to me (takes me right away to the correct page and when my faith was very young and weak, almost always God would reinforce what He said by taking me right away to another page (usually this was through the words in the Bible that God would talk to me and reinforce the message) that would say the same thing!  Now God rarely does that with me as my faith is stronger and I have come to know His voice and no longer question.) the first words my eyes alighted on were these (keep in mind a few hours earlier, I broke the news of Smiley's passing to our eldest son, Daniel, and reminded him that God even knows when a sparrow falls to the ground (Matthew chapter 10, vs 28 onwards), so God definitely knew about Smiley in my opinion.

After reading this Psalm, I had more peace.  I know I am going to miss Smiley - terribly - but I also know that Smiley is in a happier place, well and strong!  I trust God and when He talks to me and I know that I know He is talking to me...I cannot do anything but have faith and take comfort from what He says to me.

Psalm 84:1-4 
How lovely is your dwelling place
O Lord Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints
for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.

Even the sparrow has found a home
and the swallow a nest for herself
where she may have her young -
a place near your altar,
O Lord Almighty, my King and my God
Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
they are ever praising you.

So for those people who think that animals are excluded from God's dwelling place, take heart from this psalm as I do.  We buried Smiley in his little coffin in a grave right next to Happy in our pretty garden.

Ian, my hubby added this tribute to Smiley in his own words:

Jennifer and Smiley shared a very special bond! Both were abandoned by their old families, simply because they were "inconvenient". Realizing that, Jennifer adopted Smiley, instantly, even though I was not ready for another doggy quite yet (Happy had just died, at 14y2m) and we were still trying to get to grips with his passing - but I sensed there was something MUCH larger than my feelings at stake then, and so I did not oppose Jennifer's decision and welcomed Smiley into our family, at age 10. I'm so very glad I did that! I have never seen a closer bond!  When Jen sat at her computer planning "Low-Carbing among friends", all through all 3 volumes and on into planning Vol-4, Smiley rested his head on her feet,or just and inch or 2 away at most. It would be more accurate to say that Smiley and Jen's Shadow's were one, not just that he was her shadow. Somehow he knew her pain, and she knew his. I guess you have to actually experience that ultimate rejection, to really understand. When it was close to the end, I picked him up (he could no longer stand or walk) and put him into his bed next to Jen's chair, and Jen and I went into the darkened living room next door for a brief respite - but Smiley needed Jen by his side, and cried out - it almost sounded like "Mommy!" We knew what he was saying, he did not want to die without Jen by his side, so we immediately rushed into the room, and Jen cradled his head in her hands, and placed her face next to his. Then he was at peace. In the next couple of hours, Jen told him, again and again, how very much she loved him, and how very blessed she was to have him come into her life and be her little boy, and thanked him for being such a loving little boy ... I lost count, but she repeated these well over 100 times in the next 2 hours. When the end was very near, she told him all of these things again, through her tears, and with the most passion and anguish I've yet seen in her, and Smiley's labored breathing grew peaceful, he somehow summoned up the strength he had not had for hours, wagged his tail to respond to her loving words, his face relaxed with his hallmark smile, and with a gentle sigh, breathed his last, in Jen's arms, at exactly 14 yrs and 2m, the same age as Happy was. Quite the coincidence! Smiley came to us in the middle of the Jungle, in one of the remotest places on earth, seemingly out of nowhere, into our lives exactly when we REALLY needed him! We know he was not a local stray, he was neutered, and the locals do not have the money to do that, so we assume it was "inconvenient" and costly for a ex-pat couple returning to the 1st World somewhere, to take a 10 year old doggy back with them - so they dropped him off in a very dangerous Jungle, to fend for himself. But with God's help, using another family just passing through, Jen and Smiley met. It was love at first sight  But nobody knew were he came from, or what his past was ... I do, He was God's gift to our family, but to Jen in particular, He was very definitely "Mommy's boy!". We will always know him as "SMILEY ELOFF ...Regalo de DIOS!" On Saturday, I placed him in his Casket, and buried him close by, in the garden, taking great pains to point his face DIRECTLY at Jen's feet, where she sits each day at work, in her study. I know Smiley would have wanted that! ~Ian PS. I told Jen that it is my wish, that one day, when we finally are forced to say goodbye to each other, I want to be treated just as lovingly as "her Smiley" was.

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