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.