Friday, December 20, 2013

Twelve Gifts: Life. And Prayer.

Our adorable dog Sawyer

“Where’s Sawyer?” asked Josh. “He didn’t come to greet me when I walked up to the house.”

“He’s out in his favorite spot in the front yard, sunning himself,” I told him.

Josh walked out to the front steps to call Sawyer and our dog didn’t budge. Didn’t get up, didn’t move, didn’t even look in his direction. Josh went to pick him up and he was completely limp. Dead weight. 

We couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him. Memories of saying farewell to our previous dog, Schubert, while he died in our arms ten years ago, left me feeling panicky and numb. Sawyer was still alive, but just barely. The only way we could tell for sure was he blinked. And had a faint heartbeat.

I remembered that there had been a scuffle in the back yard a couple of hours earlier. Another dog was interested in our female and had been wandering onto our property for a few days in a row. I was getting pretty good at chasing him away and locking our dogs inside whenever he came around. But today I was upstairs in the shower when all the commotion started. I had knocked on the window to get their attention. At first they ignored me, but they eventually quieted down. After that, both dogs were behaving normally, so I didn’t give it much thought. But suddenly I wondered if Sawyer had been hurt by the other dog. We couldn’t see any blood or other evidence of injury. But when we parted his long, beautiful coat there were several large bite wounds on his neck. 

The two of us wrapped him in warm towels and rushed him to the vet, crying our eyes out. “Hang in there, Buddy,” we coaxed. “Don’t leave us.” All I could think about was what a sweet, gentle people-pleasing friend he is. I felt sick imagining him lying out there, hurt and alone—nearly dead—and none of us even realized he was injured. That heart-jabbing thought just made me cry even more. Poor thing—all he did was exactly what he was supposed to do: Defend our home and his mate. No good deed goes unpunished.

Mercifully, our vet had an opening and could see Sawyer right away. They took his temperature, and it was so low it wouldn’t even register on a thermometer. They said they’d never seen a temperature that low. Ever. Sawyer had severe hypothermia. They said his wounds needed to be treated, but first they had to bring back his vital signs. They honestly didn’t know whether he’d survive the next few hours, and were making no promises. They hooked him up to an IV and sent us back to the waiting room, where we texted a few friends and begged for prayers.

Half an hour later they invited us back into the O.R. and this is what we saw:

Sawyer in the operating room getting prepped for surgery.
We patted his head, talking to him softly, and cried some more. But he was breathing more steadily, and seemed a bit warmer. Dr. Webber said we could go home and come back just before closing time. It was hard to walk away, but she’s a great vet and we knew he was in good hands.

Amazingly, when we got back later that evening with the whole family, Sawyer was sitting up. Dr. Webber had been able to stitch up his wounds while he was comatose, which was a tender mercy. Sawyer still couldn’t move much, but he was responding. They kept him there, hospitalized, through the weekend. We stopped in on Saturday morning to check on him and he was—even more amazingly—walking (gingerly) and even wagged his tail a few times. The vet seemed amazed by his rapid recovery, which I can only attribute to prayer. 

The following Monday we brought him home, our little friend was back where he belongs, with his family. He went back in on Thursday, and got more stitches the following Monday, so he looks a bit like Frankenstein, but it looks like our friend Sawyer is going to be all right. 

The whole ordeal reminded me of just how precious and fragile life is—it can be snatched away before we even realize what's happened. That we all walk, blink, and breathe is a miracle. A gift. I was also reminded of the very real power of prayer. Permission to talk to God is an amazing gift. The fact that He answers those prayers? Humbling and awe-inspiring. I thank God for hearing our prayers and sparing this life.


Jessica Stock said...

So good to see you posting again! And I was cringing as I read this dreading the end- thankful she was okay!

Aunt Snow said...

Oh, my heart was breaking and then suddenly relieved!

- Glennis, from writing class.

DeNae / SHP said...

Oh, Jana! I only just saw this! What a sad, scary thing! I know you love your sweet dogs as much as we love our Sadie, and I would be a complete MESS if this happened. I'm so glad it turned out all right. Now, off to hunt down the owner of that OTHER dog!