3/15/88 - 9/23/02
I'm sitting here trying to think of a fitting way to describe Quiggly, and to say "Good-bye" to him. How do I put into words 14 years of companionship, loyalty, joyful times, and togetherness? How do I tell this dear friend just how much I love him, how much I'll cherish the life he shared with us, and how desperately I miss him?
Quiggly became a part of our family in May of 1988. We were pastoring the Church of the Nazarene in Gothenburg, Nebraska. Jamie Staley, a girl in our youth group, brought Quiggly and Bandit to her home at the prodding of a classmate of her's, Jason Brown. They were part of a new litter, and not quite 2 months old. She wasn't allowed to keep both puppies, so she agonized over which one to keep and which one to give away. She just loved Quiggly because of his thick, fur coat, and that his face was so covered with fur that you could barely see the tip of his nose sticking out. She finally decided to give him to Jan and me, her pastors, as a special gift.
Our first day together I decided to run to the store and bring him along. I loaded him up, and away we went. On arriving at the grocery store, I hopped out of the pickup, looked at him sitting there staring at me with his tongue dangling, closed the door, and started to walk away. I hadn't taken two steps when he started barking and yelping at the top of his lungs. Assuming I'd unintentionally slammed the door on him, I turned as quickly as I could and opened the door. He just sat there in the middle of the seat, unharmed, looking at me. Puzzled, I picked him up and looked him over. He was fine. Again I closed the door and started toward the store. Again loud yelping and yipping followed me. I ran back again. Again, he was fine. Thus began a pattern that was going to happen during most of the 14 years of his life. He didn't like being left behind, and he let me know it every time I closed a door between us.
Quiggly made a very positive impression on us from the beginning. He was very outgoing, and just loved everyone, especially kids. I immediately knew that I was going to have to pick a unique name for him, something that stood out and matched his personality. I couldn't think of anything that seemed to fit. While at the grocery store during our first trip together, I glanced at a magazine cover. The name, "Quiggly" was printed on the front cover. "Quiggly, huh?" I thought. That sure fits his personality. And so it was. During the rest of the day I repeatedly said to him, "Quiggly," and I then picked him up and cuddled him. By the end of the day when I said, "Quiggly," he looked at me, knowing that I was about to pick him up. From that point on he knew his name.
Quiggly and I soon developed a close relationship. I'd previously had several dogs, all of which ran away. Jan had just brought home a magazine on dog psychology. I thought it was stupid so initially ignored it. But on an impulse later picked it up and read through it. It stated that dogs are very social and have a pack instinct. They need constant companionship and have a difficult time handling being alone. That certainly explained some things. I'd treated all the previous dogs I had like they were possessions. I decided to treat Quiggly like he was a member of the family. He ate with us and what we ate. He slept in the bedroom with us. I brought him with me almost everywhere I went. He literally became a part of the family. He also became the most loyal dog I've been around, and a very special member of our family.
"I'll get the mail!"("Maybe the mailman, too, hee hee.")
After we left the pastorate we moved into a house that had a mail slot in the front door. Quiggly used to wait for the mailman to put the mail in the slot. As soon as he'd see the mailman coming, he'd stick his snoot in the slot and wait for the mail. He'd then grab it, shake his head hard, and bite through it. Jan was really embarrassed about paying the bills because of the bite marks in the statements.
A year after Quiggly became a member of our family, the denomination closed our little church. I decided then that I needed some time away from the ministry to think, so I got a job driving semi truck over the road. I initially left Quiggly at home. He couldn't deal with being away from me. He became a real problem for Jan to handle. After 2 years of Quiggly refusing to cooperate, it was decided that I'd have to take him with me in the truck. I changed jobs and went to work for a company that allowed pets in the truck. During the next 11 years Quiggly and I would be together almost 24 hours a day. A real bond of love and dependence developed between us. We became an inseparable team.
Quiggly struggled with various health problems most of his life. He was allergic to almost everything. I couldn't feed him dog food. He'd always break out in a bad rash on his belly. He loved milk, but it made him real sick.
Life's Spiritual Lessons
There are many theological questions that Christianity of today seeks to answer. In my own spiritual life I've found their answers to be less than adequate. They were never able to adequately answer for me the "why?" questions. God in His loving Grace used Quiggly to answer some of these.
Living by my Human Nature
Through the years of our life together I tried hard to civilize Quiggly. He was an unusually intelligent dog; when I'd turn the turn signal of the semi on, he'd excitedely jump into the passenger seat, ears up, body twitching with excitement, as he eagerly anticipated our impending visit to the next truck stop. Most truck stops are in rural settings, so I'd let him run off the leash. He enjoyed this thoroughly. When we'd be done walking, after climbing back into the truck he'd nervously stare at me and the dash, wondering what I'd do next. He hated it when I'd go inside and leave him alone, even if just for a few minutes. He learned through observation that when I pushed in the two plungers on the dash that released the tractor and trailer parking brakes that, immediately afterwards, the truck would start moving, and I'd be staying with him. I'd lean over, push in the valves, and he'd yip a couple of times, excitedly figiting in the passenger seat. He'd continue to do this until we hit the highway, at which point he'd go back to the back, find a comfortable spot, and go to sleep.
We as Christians have a choice - to follow the Holy Spirit and to live by His nature, or to follow our own human wisdom, devises, and desires. We have two natures available to us - God's, and ours. It's up to us to decide which to follow. I have found through the years that my human nature is unreliable and can neither please God or me. So I've decided to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in my day to day life.
Why Jesus was Willing to Die for Us
The last few months of Quiggly's life were very difficult on all of us. I was refusing to give up hope, and had for some time been giving him vitamins to try to strengthen his immune system due to chronic sinus infections he'd been fighting. On one occasion he almost died on us. Jan and Mandy were with us in the semi. Quiggly was lying on the floor, barely breathing, in intense pain, unable to move. The Holy Spirit whispered to me,
The End Comes
Quiggly's last couple of years were not pretty. In 2000, due to his chronic nose bleeds, he was diagnosed with a sinus tumor. I disagreed with that diagnosis, mainly because he'd struggled with nose bleeds and sinus infections all his life. Our vet suggested that we put him to sleep. I refused. I decided long ago that there were two criteria I would go by in deciding if to put him to sleep, either of which would be the deciding factor:
The last few months he slowly began to fall apart. He went deaf in his right ear, probably due to the chronic sinus infections. He went blind in his right eye as a reaction to the antibiotics he was on for the sinus infections. He eyesight in his left eye was very poor due to his age - he was very far sighted, and his lens was beginning to harden and was becoming a grey color. Two months before he passed on he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He was put on expensive antibiotics, $120 every 2 weeks for six weeks. That helped greatly.
Thursday, 9/19/2002, while on a run in the semi to Florida, he started having stomach problems - excessive gas. Friday I had to stop to let him out every couple of hours. He was noticeably weak. Saturday he was having a hard time standing up and walking. I had to pick him up and carry him to and from the truck. Sunday he could barely stand, even with help. I finished the Florida run. We made it home in the middle of the afternoon. At the time I didn't know just how sick he was, nor what he had. I've had the flue a couple of times that made me so weak I couldn't move. I was hoping that it was just a stomach virus, and that with rest he'd be better in a couple of days. Jan and I discussed it, and we decided that if he didn't improve, based on his inability to get around, we'd be forced to put him to sleep. We both felt sick about it, but leaving him as he was wasn't a valid option. The vets I'd taken him to for the last 2 years had stated that he was at the end of his life and that the only solution was to put him to sleep, so I saw little point in letting them see him. They'd just tell me to put him down. We watched him closely, and prayed hard that God would intervene.
Monday morning, 9/23/2002, about 6 am Quiggly woke me. He was barking. His head was under the blankets that I'd made into a bed for him. He was laying there limp. I picked him up, carried him outside, and tried to hold him up so he could go to the bathroom. He remained limp. I brought him back into the house and laid him down. I tried to call a couple of veterinary places, but all of them were closed. Then, just before 8 am, Quiggly whimpered, yipped a couple of times, and stopped breathing.
Is there life after Quiggly?
I'm told there is, but I find it hard to believe. The life that we now live definitely won't be the same. Everywhere I've gone for the last 11 years, and for most of the last 14, Quiggly has been at my side. Jan and I both feel as if our hearts have been ripped out. We love Quiggly with every fiber of our beings, and will miss him desperately. To us he wasn't just a dog. He was like a 2 or 3 year old son who never grew up, who depended on us wholly, and trusted in us with a pure, child-like trust. When he was having problems I used to say to him, "It's OK Quiggly, Daddy fix!" And I'd fix whatever his problem was.
Quiggly sleeping, 10/10/2001