The past few days have been full of tears and sorrow. Britta was bitten by infected ticks which put parasites into her blood and attack her organs. She fought hard. We prayed hard. Our vet, Pavel, doctored hard. But in the end her strong body grew weak and her breathing labored. I stood with her this morning as she breathed her last.
Britta was a beautiful dog to look at but also a beautiful dog in personality. Many, many people came through our house in the past five years, meeting Britta and loving her ways. She adored people. She adored being with people. She loved bonfires, picnics and yard work because it brought people to her territory. Often men who came to work at our house asked us to kennel her, not because they were afraid of her, but because she wanted them to play. She wouldn't leave them alone, and they couldn't do their work!
Shepherds talk. Some more than others. Britta fell into the "more" category. She stayed by the door of the house when inside, but often complained about that, sounding like a whale. She sang with the girls and had an irritating bark/cry mix when it was time for a walk or run. That sound didn't let up until we were into the vineyards.
In the sermon on the mount Jesus said, "Blessed are the Meek for they will inherit the earth." For many years I thought meek meant weak. I didn't understand what Jesus' words. A few years ago I learned that meek means "strength under control". When I heard this definition Britta immediately came to my mind. She was a beautiful picture of strength under control.
German Shepherds have one of the strongest bite pressures of all dogs. We used to have Golden Retrievers, and I played tug-of-war with them many times. I could always win. I would simply put pressure on the lower jaw and the Golden would drop the toy.
I never won the game with Britta. No one did. Applying pressure on her lower jaw didn't work. The game was over when she decided it was over. She destroyed several sets of indestructable rubber dog toy rings. She chewed logs, not sticks, and this fall she put away a 3 foot rawhide in a few days time.
Yet our miniature schnauzer loved to play with her and often came to me wet from Britta's mouth on her back. Gracie's head would be in Britta's mouth, yet she never was hurt. Strength under control.
When Gracie had puppies, Britta became the dog aunt to seven balls of fur. I sat many early mornings outside with all of them. Gracie would go her own way, but Britta ran the yard with the puppies until the puppies needed a rest. Often they would pile up on Britta's fluffy tail and fall to sleep. Strength under control.
I had no doubt that, although she'd lop gently beside me in the vineyards, if someone had tried to harm me I could have dropped her leash and they'd find the power behind her jaws.
These past days I saw weak Britta. She couldn't stand or walk. She fought for her life, but in the end she lost. I experienced the difference between weak and meek.
Britta lived her life meekly. I've learned a great biblical life lesson from my dog.
I'm sure no one has ever called me weak. That has not been my problem. But for so much of my life I lived with uncontrolled strength.
And I pray that I never forget to follow Britta's example of meekness.
Lord, teach me to be meek. Teach me to control the strength in which you made me so that You may be glorified in all I do.
Today as we look out at the beautifully falling snow, we can't help but think how Britta would have loved the fresh snowfall. She would have romped and dug in the snow, begged us to come out with her and came in a huge mess. Our hearts will heal from our loss today, but may I never forget this meek dog and the lesson she taught me.
God calls me to be meek.
"Blessed are the Meek for they will inherit the earth." Matthew 5:5