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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Mourning the passing of a loyal companion


Our dog Angie died last night.

In the grand scheme of ebola and eternity, the death of a dog may not seem important, but to the hearts in this home it is the final crushing blow of 2007. Angie was nearly 12 years old, which is a long life for a large dog in the toxic environment of a tropical jungle. Over the last year she had slowed down considerably, but in the last few weeks she could barely walk and finally she was unable to even stand without help. It was time for her to go, but that does not make it much easier.

Angie was Scott’s idea. In 1997 we had three children age 4 and under . . . So adding a dog to the mix was far from my mind. But he saw a notice in one of the first little grocery stores frequented by foreigners in Kampala (for such luxuries as ketchup and mustard) offering a 1 year old mixed yellow lab to a family because the physician owner was finishing her term in Africa and moving back to England. We searched her out and brought her home to Bundibugyo. And never regretted it. Angie stuck with us through war and evacuation. When the ADF attacked us that year and we were running for our lives, Scott took the time to get her on a leash from the line of fire on the front porch and bring her along. She was denied passage on the military helicopter that eventually airlifted our family out, but stayed with Rick Gray in Bundibugyo until we could be reunited. She was never very fond of soldiers after that.

Over the decade she killed her share of snakes and rats, once nabbing a cobra just before Julia walked by it. Our house was never broken into during her tenure, in spite of numerous thefts plaguing other mission houses. When Scott traveled and I was here alone with the kids, I had no fear sleeping at night, knowing she would alarm me to any dangers. In 2001 we brought home another yellow lab puppy, Star. But Angie always remained the top dog, the level-headed one, the trustworthy one.

Her greatest value to all of us was that she represented home. Our kids live as outsiders in an insular culture, slightly out of step no matter where they are in Africa or America, except this little plot of ground. Angie was a force of continuity, unconditional acceptance, faithful love. She was a constant in their lives of tenuous transitions and frequent loss. Whenever we were away, they longed to be back with her, and as we would drive into the yard they would burst out of the doors of the truck to greet their beloved dogs. Her life span fills their conscious memory.

They said goodbye before they went to bed last night, sobbing and stroking. I do worry about the impact of this month on their hearts, this death following so closely upon the frightening separation from us during the worst days of the ebola epidemic. They have seen first hand the groaning of creation, the pain of the Fall (Rom 8). We talked about the New Creation, about Jesus’ words, Behold, I make all things new (Rev 21). We long for that day in a new way this morning, firmly believing that creatures like Angie will be part of that new and good world.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey, I'm not even remotely religious...nor do I want to be. But I DO know what a comfort such a dog can bring to a family and to their memories. So while I can't wish you "god bless" and mean anything by it, I wish you the best in the grieving process and hope that you find a worthy predecessor!

Happy New Year out there.

Carol M said...

Never a more loyal friend. I certianly know what grief the family goes through loosing such a trusted friend and companion. A friend that stands near you to feel your touch, the friend that always is happy to greet you, a friend that loves you unconditionally. Dog spelled backwards is God.. one of God's greatest creations, man's best friend. A part of heaven entrusted to us to love and sadly to part with.
Again my prayers go out for you family.
Blessings dear Myhre family from another Lab owner and dog lover. Carol M

Anonymous said...

So sorry to hear of this latest sadness. Pets really are members of the family - my husband and I evacuated from New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina and my pets were such a source of comfort during that time of displacement. We will remember Angie and your family at church this morning.

Natalee said...

oh myhres! i am so sorry. i am praying for the comfort of the King for the kids, for their hearts, and for you. your comment made me want to get a dog, as Wes wants one, and i don't...with three kids and another on the way.

love you all so much.
nat

* jane said...

* thinking of y'all. pets become part of the family.

Sharon Hall said...

Praying for your kids especially right now. I am so sad about the loss of your Angie, compounded with all the tragedy you and your family are enduring right now. We remember you often, and we pray for redemption from all of this travail.

Anonymous said...

We are grieving along with you, with what must seem like non stop loss for you guys right now. Praying for an END to the Ebola epidemic/outbreak, and an end to pain for you guys in 2007---with a FRESH START of joy and life in
2008. Our prayers are with you.
Jennifer

Tyler and Brenda Foss said...

I began reading your blog about a month ago when a friend of mine asked me to check your blog and pray for you. This might sound strange, but it has been a pleasure to read your posts each day. Not because I enjoy reading of the suffering you have witnessed or the struggles you have faced, but because of your amazing testimony of the grace of our God. You have continued on through some very difficult circumstances and you have testified to the faithfulness of our Savior.

I am so sorry to hear that your precious pet has passed away. I pray that the Lord will continue to comfort your family in your sorrow and strengthen your each day. May you be blessed as you live each day sharing God's love with those who need to know.

Brenda

Anonymous said...

I was so sad to read of Angie's death. We so often underestimate the unconditional love and companionship of our pets. David's grandmother had to make the decision to let her beloved Buffy go just 2 weeks ago. It, of course, was sad to everyone that heard of it. What they may not have known was that Enid and Buffy have been together almost 20 years. Enid is 98 years old and lived alone with Buffy. We were there twice a day to give Buffy insulin shots (she was diagnosed with diabetes just over a year ago and lost her sight shortly after.) Enid didn't just lose a pet, she lost her companion. Your family, your trials, your strength in your beliefs have been an inspiration to so many. You have suffered so many loses in the last month. I am from a large family and know that you at least, have comfort in each other. You are good people. Worthy of the friendship of Dr. Jonah and your wonderful Angie. Take comfort in each other. Don't ever forget the blessings you have been given in your lives. Sincerely, David and Connie Pierce

Cindy said...

I am so very sorry to hear of the loss of Angie. I think losing a beloved, loyal pet is only just this side of losing a child, and my heart just fills with sadness for you and your kids. What an emotional year 2007 has been for you all there. It makes our lives here in America seem so easy and selfish. Your posts have challenged my faith in ways I cannot even begin to express. I know that God gives you strength to bear sorrow, but I am asking Him with all my heart to bring much joy and stability to you and Jonah's family in 2008. I think you have borne enough in 2007 for many years and hope that the coming year will be one of rest and comfort. I will pray also for continued healing for Jonah's family and think it is such a neat thing that a little boy will join Jonah's family soon - a gracious gift from God, no doubt. God bless you all - Cindy

Anonymous said...

Oh, I am so sorry. I remember first hearing about Angie from you guys when I first met you in Baltimore--maybe after you just got Star? What a faithful friend. My heart breaks for you all. I wish I could come and sit in your home with you.
Come quickly, Lord!
love,
kimiko

Greenbrier Escape said...

Angie! I remember her well-- so fun and such a good dog for keeping the snakes, rats and even two legged visitors away sometimes! ;-)
You guys have been through the ringer...

Mary Ann

Rebecca said...

I have tears in my eyes, thinking of all the sorrow you've experience these past months. I am especially praying for the kids, as I remember losing our dog when I was only 9.

With so much love,
Rebs

Larissa said...

My heart goes out to you so very much. I remember when we finally moved back from Japan and brought our darling shitzu "fluffy" back with us. He was our dear constant in a new world. And it tore my heart out when we eventually had to have him put down. Hugs to all of you - do let the kids know. Much love.

tracy said...

"Home is where the dog is." When I lost my boy Shadow I was heartbroken and I miss him everyday. With so many months full of loss, it must be so hard on your children to lose such a beloved friend. Bless you all for the work that you do and May God Bless you and all you do.

Tracy
http://projectdiaspora.org

Cindy said...

I am so sorry for the loss of Angie - an additional heartbreak for all of you! I sit here crying with and for you over all the losses in your lives recently. I hope and pray your two weeks in Austria will be renewing, fulfilling and enjoyable as you get some good family time together. I'm sure the kids especially look forward to having Mom and Dad around for awhile, even though they would rather be back home in Bund.
I am thrilled that it looks like Melen will have a boy! That is wonderful that Jonah's name will be carried on. A new life - a new hope.
May 2008 bring you many joyful days and a renewed sense of God's presence in your lives. Praying for you!
Much love, Cindy for all of us

Cindy said...
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Cindy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sarah said...

Thank you so much for sharing this intimate detail of your life. I have been an avid reader of your blog for a number of months now, and the way you put into words the intangibles of the missionary life brings me comfort. Thank you for your transparency.

God bless you family with peace during this time of transition and mourning.

Sincerely, Sarah
sarahmcwa.blogspot.com

twolumpsofclay said...

Your Angie looked so much like my Pete that I lost this past August! He was my first dog(I am 53)and was my guy for 12 years. My heart still grieves for my Bud. I pray that you will grow in greater humility as you remember her and how perfectly your Heavenly Father fit her into your life--in Africa! He loves us so. I just recently found your website-I don't even remember how- but am fascinated by your work and sacrifice, a sweet smelling aroma to our God!