Our primary responsibility as foster puppy raisers was to provide the basic training and socialization. This meant, of course, housebreaking, but included taking Deacon with us virtually everywhere we went. After all, service dogs go everywhere with their "client" as the recipient of a service dog is often called. Deacon accompanied us to Petoskey, Michigan for a Thanksgiving weekend. He went with us to work. He was with us to frequent training trips to malls and stores. Deacon even joined us for Sunday Mass at the former St. Colman Catholic Church in Farmington Hills.
As our year with Deacon was nearing its end, not knowing how much more time we had before returning him to Paws, we made one more trip to Petoskey. I snapped this picture while Juanita sat with him on the breakwater. I thought the sunset was apropos as our time with Deacon was coming to an end.
Sure enough, upon our return home, in the mail was an envelope from Paws with the paperwork for returning Deacon. I don't recall how long after submitting the paperwork that we received a call from a woman at Paws headquarters. They were "career changing" Deacon because his medical records showed he had signs of allergies. As his puppy raisers, we were given first opportunity to adopt Deacon. Without hesitation, we said yes!
This evening, after more than 13 years of being part of our home, our lives, and in our hearts, we returned Deacon to God. Deacon had slowed down considerably. Walking was visibly painful for him in spite of ours and his vet's efforts to ease the pain. Any attempt to run was brief, involving a stride or two at most. Even though we know his time had come, parting was heartbreaking. Our home is noticeably empty tonight without Deacon's presence, without his spirit being among us. We felt it almost immediately as our vet listened for and confirmed Deacon's heart had stopped.
Our God is a loving God, the creator of all that is good. Tears aside, I take comfort knowing that an all loving God never abandons what he creates. While what that might mean exactly for Deacon remains a mystery, my faith in God assures me it is far better than even the most loving care we could provide him.
So, this evening we thank God for entrusting us with caring for one of his creatures, and with heavy hearts, we return Deacon to his care.
In the peace of Christ,