1 Corinthians 13:4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things
In the depths of his fight against lymphoma, Leo, my beautiful 7 year old Gordon Setter ate a meal for me. Now you might be thinking, what is so great about this? Well, if you ever had a loved one who was really sick, losing weight by the day, and refused to eat, you will understand the enormity of this.
Who could ever say a dog does not really love their owner? Because looking back on the events in November of 2019, I found myself recalling the depths of Leo’s illness and the simple thing he did for me out of love, he ate a meal for me. Leo started to lose weight in early November when I discovered there was something really wrong going on with him. He was always a picky eater, but this was different. He would turn his nose up at about everything I offered him. After a couple of days of trying about everything, I rushed off to the vet where my worries were confirmed. Leo had lymphoma, a deadly cancer.
I took the diagnosis much worse than Leo as he seemed like his normal self. As we waited the next appointment for tests which would not be for a couple of weeks, my anxiety and worry grew by the day. Leo still was not eating. I was hand feeding and basically forcing food on him. His bones were starting to show and I worried if he would even make it to the next appointment.
Over a few days of this, Leo could sense my anguish and one day during this, as I put the plate of food in front of him and walked away thinking he would never eat it, I listened as Leo gobbled it up. As he finished, he looked at me as if to say “I did this for you”. Periodically through this depth of his illness, he would eat, not often, but as I look back he was doing it all for me. He could see the sadness on my face turn to joy and relief when he would do this. If you own or owned a dog, they know exactly what you are feeling. You don’t need to tell them how we feel, unlike humans, they are much more in tune with our expressions and body language.
A couple of months into his treatment, the Vet inadvertently sent me his whole test analysis complete with many doctors evaluations. As I read through notes, I knew why he was not eating. With lymphoma, fluid starts to build up around organs such as the liver and stomach. As the pressure builds it will basically feel like very hard stomach ache. And with this fluid build up it will just send signals of feeling absolutely awful to the rest of the body. This is what Leo was actually going through, extreme pain, so food was the last thing on his mind.
Although he couldn’t tell me about this pain, I could realize it by seeing those notes. So the enormity of eating a meal for me was something now I realize was his love for me. He didn’t eat it for any other reason. It must have been painful as he swallowed each morsel, but he was going to quell my worries if for a day or two.
By the grace of God and by sheer diligence I managed to stave off Leo’s wasting away by supplements and his cooperation of eating when he could. He survived this horror long enough for us to travel a 1000 miles to Colorado State University where he started chemotherapy treatments.
A day after we started the treatment, Leo ate ALL his meals. He looked at me and signaled “the stomach pains are gone”. What a relief that was! He was back to a puppy almost, as he was not his picky self either, he ate with gusto. To me this was a MIRACLE, one of many I experienced with him. No other explanation because it was an overnight change. As Leo, God knew of my anguish and He sent this blessing.
Through the next months, Leo had many ups and downs and the lymphoma at the end was much too much for him to overcome. His love for me was to hang on as long as he could and the simple things such as eating a meal when the room was spinning and the pain was out of this world.
You may have been or may go through a similar experience with a loved one. Look back on it, because although they weren’t able to tell you, they showed you that they loved you! It might be as simple as what Leo did for me, eating a meal, or it could be something else personal for you that they did for you and you did not realize it at the time.
This type of love comes from one source! It is the great Almighty God! God loves perfectly, we love imperfectly. So when you get a glimpse of perfect love as I did, treasure it, hold onto it, and speak of it! I have many fond memories of Leo, and while the end of his life was a hard one for both of us to go through, he showed me always a glimpse of God’s perfect love.