connie and rohan

I jump around a lot (topic-wise) here on the blog, but I don’t know that I’ve ever blogged about a dog. Well, it’s high time I did.

A couple weeks ago (back when I had grand dreams of going for a jog every day), I was pushing Nina in the jogging stroller around the block while the other two rode their bikes. We passed an older lady walking a dog (a large brown and black dog, maybe a boxer, but I’m not sure), and I said hi. Honestly, I kind of expected a brief acknowledgment at best. Our neighborhood is a melting pot of nationalities and personalities. Some people are friendly, others keep to themselves. I love it, but it’s no Oklahoma or Alabama.

So imagine my surprise when this dear woman says, “Well, hi there, sweetie. How are you today?” I told her I was just fine thank you and continued my snail’s pace jog with a grin on my face. We were going in opposite directions around the block, so I passed her again, and she was just as outgoing and friendly the second time.

A couple days later, it was just Nina and me jogging around the block. We saw her coming toward us again, and I said to Nina, “Look, there’s our friend and her dog.” I said hi and she repeated her familiar greeting, “Hi there, sweetie. How are you today?”

As she passed, Nina asked me what her dog’s name was, and whether it was a boy or a girl, and I told her we’d ask the woman the next time around. (We guessed boy.) Sure enough, there she came, and this time I stopped. “Nina would like to know your dog’s name.”

“His name is Rohan,” she said. I told her he was a very nice-looking dog, and she said that he was very sick and had lost 40 pounds. I told her I was so sorry and asked what was wrong. She said he had a condition called Megaesophagus where the esophagus is enlarged, and he can’t swallow food. So everything he had eaten in the past 2 months just came right back up. “I ordered him a special chair though,” she told me. “It’s like a high chair but without the tray. Hopefully if he can eat sitting up, he’ll be able to keep food down. He’s starving to death.”

I told her we would pray for Rohan, and she was so appreciative. I asked her what her name was and she said Connie. Then she told me how I run circles around her, and she doesn’t know what I’m trying to accomplish, because I look great. I should’ve pulled up my shirt and shown her the problem, but I didn’t.

We saw Connie and Rohan again when we passed by their house. We waved and said hi and then prayed for Rohan. I went home and looked up megaesophagus and Nina and I watched a video of a dog using the special chair. We prayed for Rohan again.

We prayed for him again at bedtime. I forgot, but Nina remembered.

Then I didn’t run for awhile. Then when I did, I didn’t see Connie and Rohan. Today, Nina and I went for a jog. After four laps of pushing the stroller, I was toast, so Nina rode her bike while I walked/ran. We had just passed Connie’s house when I heard her garage door go up, so we went back.

“Hi, Connie. How’s Rohan?” I asked.

“Oh,” she said, with such a sad face, “we had to put him to sleep last Wednesday.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry.”

“Thank you,” she said. And she told me how he just wouldn’t have any of the chair. He was just too weak to stand up. Last Tuesday she took him home (he actually belongs to her son and his family 40 minutes away, but she’d been taking care of him for 2 months, because it was really a full-time job). Her son took his 11-year-old son out of school, and he and Rohan snuggled together under blankets all day and played video games. The next day, they put him to sleep and ended his suffering.

She said she was getting teary-eyed telling me about it, and I asked her if I could hug her, even though I was sweaty and smelled nasty. She gave me the sweetest hug. Then she told me a story.

Her son was mowing his grass the day after they lost Rohan, and out of nowhere, a bird flew in front of him and landed right beside the mower. The mower that was running. Her son kept mowing, and the bird just hopped along and followed him the whole entire time, for almost an hour. Then when he was done, the bird flew over to the deck and perched on the exact spot where Rohan used to lay and dangle his paws over the edge.

“Wow,” I said. “That’s amazing. I’ll bet God sent that bird to comfort your son.”

“I think he did,” she said. “It’s almost like it was Rohan’s spirit.” I wouldn’t doubt it.

And I think God sent Connie and Rohan so that I could make someone feel valuable. And when Connie tells me that I’m a fast runner and don’t look like I need to get in shape, I feel valuable too (even if I know deep down inside that it’s not true).

On the outside, Connie and I are very different. She’s older; I’m younger. She’s shorter; I’m taller. She’s blacker; I’m whiter. She has a beautiful yard; I kill plants (not on purpose!). But I like her so very much, and I’m so glad we’ve met. Thanks to Rohan.

We’ll miss you, buddy. Thank you for giving me a new friend.

19 thoughts on “connie and rohan

  1. meghan @ spicy magnolia

    What a sweet story that I’m so glad you shared with us. My heart is so tender right now about our friend who’s in his last days, keeping up with how your grandma is, and my grandpa is in the hospital too now. Doggies somehow bring so much life and joy and even comfort during these kinds of tender seasons of life. It sounds like Rohan was like that for Connie and her son, too. Bless them!

  2. Aunt T

    Thanks for sharing Marla and Nina, It is so sweet to have a new friend in your neighborhood just by talking about her dog. Such a neat little story…so many times we pass others on our way and we don’t interact. I am glad you did those days. Keep your light shining for the world to see!

  3. Gretchen

    All of the dogs we visit on our walks are aging. Including mine. Wonder how long our distinguished (13.5 yr) Dachshund is going to roam his stately manor? We enjoy them as long as we can, care for them as long as we can make a difference. And then we say goodbye.

    What a precious thing God gave to all: His comfort, His perspective (your value & similarities despite differences), an opportunity to pray for a new friend, and mostly, the opportunity to live your faith out loud.

    You blessed me so today, Marla. Your posts are always fresh & transparent, but this one is a favorite. This one is your tender heart, personified.

    That, & I’m a sucker for dogs. 😉 xxxooo

  4. Candy

    I wandered over from Gitz’s tweet when I saw the word “dog.” What a beautiful, heartwarming, yet tear-jerking story. Rohan has a friend at The Bridge named Lucky, my faithful companion for 14 years. I pray Rohan’s spirit will continue to bless the family with surprise visits. God and dogs forge beautiful friendships, don’t they?

  5. Jen your cousin

    YAY! I love stories like this – stories that make you smile and cry at the same time. Thanks so much for sharing. I am so happy that you took the opportunity to befriend Connie – what a blessing to you both.

  6. Sandi

    These furbabies leave such an imprint on our lives, and such a hole in our hearts when they leave. Connie and Rohan’s story touched a chord, Marla, and I’ll be thinking about them the rest of the day.

  7. Kym

    God bless Connie and her family! We just had our Dog Penny put to sleep, a few weeks ago. She had been part of our family for 17 years. It was one of the hardest thing I had to do! Remember Connie, All Dogs go to Heaven!

  8. Sarah M

    Oh Marla- what a wonderful story, sad and beautiful at the same time. I LOVE that you have such a heart for people! It’s neat to see how God brought a new friend into your life :-). Blessings on your day!!

  9. Marla Taviano

    I don’t know if Connie knows what a blog is (she probably does!), but I think I’ll print this post out for her along with your sweet comments. And maybe an extra copy for her son and grandson. Thank you, friends!

  10. Denise

    Oh. my. word. What a precious yet sad story. I love animals, which is why it’s so hard for me to have a son allergic to them. I had a dog that I adored, she died of old age, but I miss her. She was truly my friend, she knew when something was wrong… I miss her so much.

    And for the record….I agree with Connie about how you look 🙂

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