When I returned from my morning workout at 6 a.m. this morning, I could see Zoe’s piercing blue eyes through the slats of the gate. In recent days, Foster Dog’s presence at that location meant only one thing — time for another walk.
This would be the second morning in a row that we set out for a slow, relaxed walk through the neighborhood. With her weakened heart valve, Zoe had been spending most of her days in her Igloo dog house, working hard to breathe. Even when the thermometer was close to 100 degrees, she had refused to come out.
Two nights ago, she didn’t even come out for her evening stroll. I went to bed that night convinced that she had taken her last walk. I woke up the next morning with the dread of what I would find. As I got dressed, I took a quick glance out the bathroom window. And I took a second glance. I had seen a white shape standing by the gate.
Minutes later I had pulled on my sneakers and grabbed the leash (and a couple of those little doggy clean-up bags) and Foster Dog and I were off on our walk. As I commonly do (much to the distress of my neighbors), I was talking to her as we walked. At one point, I said something like, “It’s good to be walking. I didn’t know if we’d get to go on any more walks.”
At that moment, Zoe stopped to sniff a patch of grass. When she raised her head, she shot me “the look” and then proudly took off at a trot, as if to say, “You may be feeling the years, old man, but I can do anything I choose to do.”
Head cocked and tail raised, she kept up the pace for about the length of our neighbor’s house. Then she looked over her shoulder and slowed down. We made the full block plus a detour into a vacant lot as she scouted out the ground squirrel dens.
When we returned to our house, she made her customary security check of the front yard, pausing at the front door. Often when Nancy takes her on walks in the evening, their last stop is to ring the doorbell to see if I want to come out to congratulate her on another great outing.
“Let’s not ring the doorbell this time, big girl. Foster Mom may not be up yet.”
Zoe turned knowingly and headed for the gate. As I unclipped her leash, she walked through the opening in the fence. Normally she would head straight to the back porch for breakfast. But this time she turned and just looked at me, tail wagging ever so slightly.
Things are changing in Foster Dog’s world — and ours. Yet she reminds us that God gives us our lives in daily doses. And sufficient strength and comfort to weather whatever comes.