On Sunday we said goodbye to Brownie, Rusty’s beagle. Toby went outside and called her. She wasn’t moving from the dog bed. When he walked over he discovered that she had died in her sleep
Needless to say there were many tears shed. Every time a beloved pet dies, hearts break. It is so hard, so devastating, to hold your children as they weep over the loss of a dear friend. I sometimes wonder if the heartbreak is worth it and then I consider all the joy and love and companionship our furry family members bring to our lives and I know it is.
Brownie, in particular, had a profound and powerful impact on Rusty’s life. Brownie was his dog. On his 6th birthday, 5 months after moving to Patchwork Farm, we surprised Rusty with a dog for his birthday. It was during a time in his life when Rusty was dealing with severe anxiety that was manifesting itself in the form of Selective Mutism. My little boy couldn’t speak out loud to anyone except his Mom and Dad and two sisters. He was mute and as a result couldn’t talk and laugh with friends. We prayed about how to help meet his need to talk and share and confide in someone other than his family, while his therapist worked with him to address the underlying anxiety.
Brownie was the answer to that prayer. She became his best friend, his confidant, his support. He could whisper secrets in her floppy hound ears and squeeze her when he was feeling overwhelmed with anxiety. She was an amazing blessing to Rusty during a time when he needed an unconditional friend.
When we walked into the Humane Society that Saturday so many years ago we had a vision in our minds of what we were looking for . We thought we wanted a big lab of some sort. A dog Rusty could lay on and squeeze. A dog that could handle the loving of a six year old boy…
That’s what we thought we wanted and then we saw her:
She was standing, and smiling, and begging to be chosen. We knew she was the one.
We brought her home and Rusty was in love. It was probably his best birthday ever. As I look back on pictures from that special day I find myself tearing up over the loss of times past…tears over my sweet, quiet six year old boy who now towers above us all, the loss of animals who have passed on and loved ones, like my Grandpa Parmley in this picture, who now watch down on us from heaven.
The passage of time is bittersweet. Saying goodbye to a friend is hard. Saying goodbye to a season of life is hard. Saying goodbye to a pet, who was so much more than a pet, is hard.
That evening Toby went out to dig a grave under the giving tree where other beloved pets have been laid to rest over the years. There were tears shed as we prayed a prayer of thanks for Brownie’s loving and generous spirit and for the important role she played in the life of one little boy. She was more than a pet, she was a best friend.
And one day they will be reunited in the sweetest reunion ever!