When my telephone rang at 8 o’clock on Saturday morning my heart sank. News this early after the whirlwind day before was most certainly bad. You see on Friday we had woke to find something seriously wrong with our beloved dog Shiloh. When the boys headed outside that morning to enjoy the beautiful day they immediately came back in the door reporting that Shiloh was acting sad. She was normally a very playful and happy dog and at only 10 months old she was still technically a pup.
When I stuck my head out in the garage to see what the fuss was all about Shiloh was standing at the bottom of the steps with her ears laid back looking up at me like she does when she has done something wrong. I automatically assumed she had drug more of the boys’ shoes out into the yard. She was developing a reputation as a boot bandit. I made Luke go search the yard for evidence, but he came back empty handed.
I noticed Shiloh was walking stiffly so I carefully checked her legs and feet to see if she had injured something during the night. Everything was intact, but a quick check of her gums revealed a more serious problem. I called the vet and my fears were confirmed. Due to her extremely white gums the vet assumed she was having some sort of internal bleeding. We rushed her to the animal hospital with the hopes that she would pull through. My two oldest boys rode with me. My son, Hunter, was the most attached to Shiloh and treated her like another sibling. He sat with her in the mornings and latched onto her every evening when we came home.
The vet was very reserved with his wording in front of my boys and tried to sound optimistic. Shiloh had been kicked by either a horse or a cow during the night and her left lung was completely collapsed. I attended college for two years in the veterinarian field and I completely understood his implications. They were going to try some treatments on her and needed to keep her overnight. With hopeful hearts we kissed Shiloh good-bye and walked away.
When I picked up that phone on Saturday morning those dreadful words, “Mrs. Bloom, I’m sorry, but I have some bad news…..” rang in my ears. I cried. I cried for myself, for Shiloh, but mostly I cried for my boys. I knew this was going to break their hearts and since they had stayed overnight at my parent’s house the night before I knew I was going to have to be the bearer of bad news.
In my eleven years as a mother this was going to be a first for me. How was I supposed to tell my boys something that I knew was going to devastate them? We have lost a pet before, but the boys were very young at that time and didn’t really grasp the meaning or were just too little to give it much thought. With my oldest boys being eleven I knew it would hit them hard. How do you prepare a child to accept the fact that something they loved had died?
As I pulled up to Mom and Dad’s house Hunter came bouncing out the door excitedly asking me when we were going to bring Shiloh home. I didn’t answer him right away so he repeated his question. Tears filled my eyes as I regretfully told them the bad news. Hunter pressed his face into my chest and wailed. His little body shook with emotion and all I could do was rub his back. I have never felt so helpless. My other boys cried too, but Hunter was most attached to the sweet, white dog he had grown so fond of. She was his buddy, his running companion, his snack time friend. He brushed her most everyday, made sure she had plenty of food and talked to her as though she would respond at any moment.
The tears continued throughout the weekend. We buried Shiloh next to our other beloved family dog, Harley, in the backyard. I watched out the back window late Saturday afternoon as Hunter stood alone before her grave. He looked like he was saying something, but I did not ask him when he returned to the house. Not long after he came up to me and asked the inevitable, “Mom, why did God let her die?” Never before have I been so afraid of saying the wrong thing.
Whispering a quick prayer of guidance I told him that sometimes God allows things to happen to test us, to see how we will handle it. I told him that God never has the intention of causing us pain and that Shiloh was now His new sidekick. I knew my words were not graceful, but I hoped they comforted my son in some way. Teaching a child about death is like walking a tight rope, as long as you shoot it to them straight it is easy to keep some balance, but when you try to veer away from the truth that is when you stumble and fall.
I’m not sure how long it will take for my boys to get over the loss of their friend, but I am thankful that they got to know that kind of love in their hearts. Have a great week everyone and remember sometimes the brightest days are born from the darkest hours. God bless!