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If you’ve read this blog, you know I’m a dog person. And if you know me personally, you know how much we adore our beloved miniature schnauzer, Shotsie.

This is her story.

I was separated from my 21 1/2 year marriage. My two daughters were off to college, two hours away. My 15 year old son, Daniel and I were figuring out life with just the two of us.

I was taking a DivorceCare class at a local church. Since I’m a rule follower, and because I desperately wanted healing in my life, I was determined to do everything they told me to do. They suggested we get an indoor pet. A warm body next to ours would ease the loneliness. We had two outdoor dogs, but I could definitely see how having one to sleep with would help.

I wanted one that didn’t shed. Daniel had loved a friend’s standard schnauzer and wanted one, too. I wanted a smaller dog because they live longer. So we settled on a miniature schnauzer.

We found some puppies for sale who were full-blooded but not papered, so they were less expensive. The lady said, “If you don’t want a dog that wants to sit beside you on the couch and sleep right up next to you at night, please don’t walk out the door with this puppy.” Daniel and I both said that’s exactly what we wanted! I had no money what with all the single-momming, so Daniel used every bit of his Christmas money to buy this precious little one. We brought her home on January 25, 2009.

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He wanted to name her Shotsie after the miniature dachshund on “That 70’s Show.” I wanted to name her Gracie because she was the evidence of God’s grace to us. But since he paid for her, I gave in. Her name means “Sweetheart” in German (although Daniel decided to spell it phonetically).

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We were all smitten. She surely was our sweetheart.

 

Just like they said it would, having her to sleep with at night helped ease so much of my loneliness. God used her to fill many of the empty places each one of us felt.

Even if I just went to the mailbox, it was Christmas morning to her when I’d come back! Truly I’d never felt so loved in my whole life. When I was utterly and completely overwhelmed, alone and afraid, scared to be by myself, believed I was unloved and unwanted, she fixed it all. When I would lay in the fetal position and cry from a broken heart, she would lick my tears. This one little dog, all by herself, made me feel like I was worthy of love and could face any trial in front of me.

When I moved to Lynchburg so I could work at Liberty University and get free tuition for the girls, my oldest moved back in with me. She had her own room, but she still wanted to sleep with Mama. So every night, my grown daughter would pile in with me and Shotsie in my little double bed. And every night, Lindsey would say, “Shotsie, I love you more than anyone in the world. Including Mom.” We would both laugh — but I knew it was kinda sorta true!

Years later when I remarried, Todd had his own little beagle mix who slept with him as well. It got a little crowded with two adults and two dogs in a queen sized bed, and we soon migrated to a king. Shotsie has slept cuddled up to my side for over 10 years now.

Todd says she would crawl in my skin if she could. I say he’s just jealous because he doesn’t love me like she does. He’s never once almost passed out when I came home from work from sheer joy! He says he does love me that much — she’s just more dramatic. He may be right.

A year and a half ago I noticed some discoloration on her nose. She was eventually diagnosed with skin cancer, and although she was given 6 months with no hope of treatment or cure, a veterinarian friend of Todd’s felt he could help. She has been cancer-free since surgery to remove it, and we were beyond relieved.

A few weeks ago, on August 17th, the 13th anniversary of my daddy’s death, I noticed her lymph nodes were enlarged. First thing Monday morning, I took her back to Dr. Crawford, and my worst fears were realized.

Our sweetheart has T-cell Lymphoma.

The prognosis is not good — 6-9 months. I’ve already cried a river, and no doubt there are oceans more to come. Here is our brave girl on her way to her first chemo treatment.

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Part of me is scared that she feels her purpose in our lives is over. Many broken places in me are healed. Lindsey lives 5000 miles away and has a cat to love. Kaitlyn has a wonderful family, including a dog of her own. Daniel lives in California and says he’s never been happier. Although I’m thrilled for all of that, none of us are ready to lose her. Ten years is not enough.

Since I have such a heart for animals, it comforts me to know God cares about them, too. Luke 12:6 tell us,

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.

And if He hasn’t forgotten a sparrow, surely He hasn’t forgotten my Shotsie. 

Will you pray with me that her story isn’t over quite yet?

Maybe God will shine His grace and mercy on us and give me another 5 years with her, as I’m boldly asking Him to do. But if not, I’m going to spend every day doing for her what she did for me. I’m going to make sure she’s never alone. I’m going to be thrilled for every moment I get with her and cuddle her all I can. I will hold her tight and make sure the last thing she hears is how very much she is loved, how she was one of God’s biggest blessings in my life, and if I live to be 100, I will never stop missing her.

I believe dogs are God’s greatest example of unconditional love this world will ever see. If you have a fur baby that you love like we love our Shotsie, will you hold them just a little closer today? Cherish every moment you have with them.

“Dogs’ lives are too short. Their only fault, really.” – Agnes Sligh Turnbull