The first time I met Bernard, his illness was obvious—even alarming. He had developed a spinal disorder that meant he was pretty much dragging his back half behind him along the ground, unable to feel any sensation in those extremities, and only somewhat in control of even his own bowel functions. He wasn’t 100%. More like 50%. And the girl who introduced me to him just said, simply, “This one’s broken…” while pointing at him. And yet he was happy, and kind, and always made the effort to greet a friend at the door.
Before you get too outraged or worried…this is Bernard:
Bernard was a good dog. He belonged to my friends in the Lynn Family. And it’s true that he had a spinal disorder and couldn’t feel much (if anything) past about his mid-section. But he was in absolutely not pain, and he was a happy, sweet, loving dog.
The Lynns have several animals running around their house. Dogs, cats, birds (including two ducks—yes DUCKS), a guinea pig…and I think there might be a lizard or two in there somewhere, I’m not sure… They’ve got quite a menagerie. But Bernard was one of a kind. He even saved their lives once.
A few years ago, the Lynns had a house-fire during the night around Christmastime, while the family was asleep. The smoke alarms were going off. The other animals were a combination of panicked and oblivious. Some were at the door wanting to get out, others were sleeping…but it was Bernard who figured out how much danger everyone was in and thought, “I’ve got to tell the humans!” He went about barking and carrying on over by the bedrooms and got the humans out of bed. (He had not yet developed the spinal disorder.) The house was pretty much destroyed, but everybody lived…because Bernard was a good boy.
Bernard died this week.
(There’s that “Awwww!” again…)
He had contracted his disorder a while back, and a lot of people would’ve just put him down right then…but the Lynns care about their pets a lot. They knew he wasn’t hurting and that he was still enjoying himself. So they kept him alive, cleaned up after him as needed, and even bought a few—pardon the term—handicapable doggie accessories to help him get around a little easier.
I met Bernard because I started going to the Lynns’ house for church meetings on Saturdays, then later Wednesdays. He often sat in on our Bible study times. (He was even there this past week.) Every time I’d come through the door, he’d bark for a second when he heard me turn the knob, but once he saw and sniffed me, he gave me the standard doggie “I know you!” look and he’d sit waiting for a pat on the head, which I’d gladly lean down a little lower to give him than I had to for the other dogs I’ve gotten to know at the Lynn house, since they were all about to stand or jump up a little higher.
Bernard was a good boy. And I miss him. And I know that the Lynns miss him even more.
So I just wanted to say…
“Good boy Bernard. Good boy.”