|Nala, Jack and Max as puppies visIting Janet and Jere Scott at the Lodge|
I should be writing today to talk about our babies who need diapers and wipes, because we have kicked off our 2020 amazon Diaper Drive, but I can’t. I need to tell you about the loss that we felt this week, and it wasn’t just our beloved Doberman whom we lost, it was much more than that.
For those of you who have lost a pet, you know the heartbreak and sorrow that comes. We have lost many pets over the years, and to tell you the truth, I still have most of their ashes in containers out in the garage (don’t judge). They have moved from Canada to the US to Eswatini, and I just can’t seem to get them in the ground, or sprinkled.
When we first moved to Eswatini our friends, the VanWyk’s, gave us a Jack Russell Terrier as a house warming gift. They told us that he would become a critical member of the family because the Jack Russell dogs will always alert the family when there is a snake around. Welcome home Jack! And believe me, Jack did his job well with a higher-than-normal pitched bark when there was a snake around. We could swear that he was shouting “SNAKE! SNAKE! SNAKE! SNAKE!” until someone came to help. A few days after Jack’s arrival, Ian and Spencer arrived home with Max, the sweet little Doberman puppy, who turned in to a giant Doberman who terrified Swazi’s while keeping us safe.
We were further advised that we should load up on dogs because we would lose them to snakes frequently, so we should always have puppies on the way. Next, we got Nala, the most beautiful mixed breed boerboel, followed closely by Twende (Swahili word for “come”), whom Ian thought we might breed with Max. Suffice it to say that we had a LOT of dog, and they were still just puppies.
A few months after everyone was settling in, a snake came and bit Nala. We didn’t see the snake, but we have all kinds of deadly poisonous snakes here from black mambas to spitting cobras, to the deadly green boomslang and giant pythons. That night we lost my beloved Nala, while Chloe and I watched her die a horrific death that took hours of pain and suffering until she succumbed to the poison. Ian and Spencer were away, but Jere and Janet Scott came to help, Anthony, Denis and William tried their best, but with no vet available she let out her last cry for help, and died in our garage.
Twende had been moved down to the farm because she wasn’t a very smart dog, and was causing trouble at our house. She got pregnant and gave birth to puppies, only to be bitten by a snake while nursing the puppies. Twende died the day after Nala did.
I decided at that time that I had to change my view of dogs and had to stop seeing them as pets, but rather as protectors. My mom gave me two purebred boerboel puppies for my 50th birthday, and I will admit that while I do like them, I have kept them away from my heart as best as possible. We named the girls "Georgia" and "Tai" in honor of where Spencer and Chloe were living (Georgia and Taiwan). Max and Jack remained the “two best friends that anybody ever had”, with Jack being at Max’s side in all battles, protecting him from many snakes and a few Swazi’s who have slashed him with a bush knife (long story). Those two had already found a secure place in my heart. It was too late to change that.
|Georgia and Tai|
Last month we suddenly saw two large masses on Max. One the size of a grapefruit under his front leg, and one the size of a lemon on his chest. After some experiments with antibiotics and steroids, we asked the vet what he thought, and he told us it was most likely cancer. With our borders to South Africa closed, there was no way to even test or treat him. We prayed for the best, but his health started to fail quickly. He self-isolated (very COVID-19 of him), stopped eating and drinking, and this past Monday we had to put him down. We drove him to the vet, wh
o administered his cocktail in the back of Ian’s truck, and then we drove Max back to the farm and buried him near Nala.
In a country where people are dying of HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, COVID-19, oh, and starvation still, it’s hard to think about the pain of losing a dog as being acceptable. But we wept. I had such a visceral response to this loss that I felt sick, exhausted and disoriented. After of day of mourning I realized that it wasn’t just the best dog that we have ever had (sorry Jack), who we lost, but it was the loss of fellowship with others due to border closures, the loss of society as we once knew it, the loss of safety in world politics and the loss of the expectation of safety in global public health.
Personally, it was the loss of not being able to go to Cape Town, as planned, to celebrate Spencer’s proposal of marriage to Jane. It was the loss of the planned event of Chloe having her birthday cake with the Project Canaan kids last Sunday, and her boyfriend seeing the farm for the first time. It was the loss of not being able to just run to South Africa for some mental health days, and rest, which is a tool that we have become dependent on while working in the mission field.
The losses that we are mourning, through the loss of our beautiful Max, seems to be inconsolable and suffocating. Time will help us heal, but the scab gets ripped of my heart every day when I see Jack cry out for his buddy Max, and continue searching for him around the yard. This too shall pass. Come Lord Jesus, come.
And I really do need you to buy diapers and wipes on our
amazon list, because we have 150+ children who use them day and/or night. Thank you for sharing and shopping at
Live from Eswatini … praying for the hole in my heart to heal.