What Abbey Taught Me

A little over a week ago, my wife and I lost Abbey to renal failure that had been worsening over the last year. Abbey was a constant companion to us both and, even though she was a miniature schnauzer, she was like a child to us. In my work as a physician, I learned to depend upon Abbey many times to cheer up patients who had come to clinic and felt down, but left with a smile after she would make her way to their exam rooms and visit for a moment without my prompting. So many have asked about her in the last week, it has been difficult to get through the days without shedding some tears. I remember her every time I get into my chair at home where she was always at my side.

Abbey even helped me to understand God better as I thought about how much she loved me. It’s been said for many years that a dog is man’s best friend and I have to agree with that statement from whoever originally made it. Mark Twain stated, “Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in”. A pet’s love for their master is full of such devotion and love that a comparison of those qualities of ours towards God puts us all to shame. First John 5:3 states, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.” I’m reminded of how Abbey always sought to obey us and showed her love for us in this way.
In Matthew 6:24, we read, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” Here, I’m reminded of how much a devoted pet only has one master where there is complete loyalty given even to the point of death. Turning to Second Timothy 1:7, we are reminded, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

In comparison to such a devoted pet like Abbey, I must admit that I feel that I just don’t measure up, and I never will feel that I deserve the love of God, but He loves me, and you, anyway. Matthew 5:3 reminds me, “Blessed [are] the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” I’ve thought about how I can have a love for God equal to the love I felt from Abbey. The answer is found in Ephesians 3:14-21: “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” We don’t have to do this ourselves. It’s His gift for us to accept. God wants to change our hearts to be like His – the God who made Abbey to teach me a little more about Him through showing me how to love Him better.

As I was lying in bed holding my dear Abbey as she was taking her last breaths, I was reminded of how God is there with us until the end. Sometimes death is peaceful and sometimes it’s not, but He’s there just the same to help us even during that final stretch of the path we travel. First Corinthians 2:9 reads, “But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”


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