Yesterday, was a sad day in our family.  We lost our sweet dog, Neely.  She was about to turn six, so this was completely unexpected.  We noticed she was looking sick Sunday night, took her to the vet on Monday morning, and she passed away early Tuesday morning in B’s arms.  They don’t know for sure what happened, but the Dr. thinks it was lymphoma that ultimately caused her liver to fail.

 I know she’s just a pet, but she was a big part of our little family, so we’re having a hard time letting go. The good thing is that if it had to happen so soon, we are grateful it was quick and peaceful, but she is still deeply missed.

This morning, I woke up and decided to do a “Neely” search on Long to Love.  Those of you who have been reading for a while know she certainly had a presence here.  She inspired many blog posts.

Who can forget Neely’s grooming mishap in Minnesota?!

Or just a few weeks ago when she ran away in Old Town Alexandria, only to be miraculously found.

Or her boyfriend across the fence in Charlottesville.

Below is one of my favorite Neely-inspired posts, that I wrote in the winter of 2011 during our first hunting season together:

During this time of year, I join the elite club of women across the world and become a “hunter’s widow”, but it’s okay because I’m joining the ranks of my mom and Beth Moore, so I’m in good company.  Whenever the opportunity arises, Bernie is off to find the nearest duck blind—I’m pretty sure it’s something he would do everyday if he could. 

But this isn’t me complaining—I actually love that he goes hunting.  I learned early on in our marriage that Bernie needs outdoor outlets where he can connect with nature and have some quality guy time.  Each time he comes home, he’s alive and refreshed.

PLUS, when else would I have the chance to watch the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills marathon, without someone making me change the channel?    

This year, though, I have gained an extra companion.  Neely, our dog and hunting school dropout, has become my faithful companion.  I enjoy my alone time, but there’s something nice about having a dog around so you can talk to someone, have a little dance party now and then, and another creature (aside from cockroaches and mice) in the house at night to keep me company.

What’s funny about Neely though is when Bernie’s away, she does not leave my side.  If I’m in bed, she’s laying on the floor next to me; if I’m doing laundry or cleaning the kitchen, she sits and watches; when I’m in the bathroom, she waits by the door.  While extremely annoying at times, most of the time it’s endearing.  I’m beginning to see why dogs are frequently referred to as “man’s best friend”.  

This weekend, I thought about how similarly, whether Bernie is away or at home, I have a constant, steadfast Companion who never leaves me.   One who is with me in the highs and lows of life, whether surrounded by people or by myself; and nothing can ever separate me from His faithful love!

There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Proverbs 18:24 (NIV)
 I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.  No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39 (NLT)
   Never will I leave you;
   never will I forsake you.
Hebrews 13:5 (NIV)

Want to read more Neely-inspired parables?  Check them out below:

Running Free

Going Home

Man’s Best Friend

Guided to the Promise

Thanks for indulging me with a little tribute post to my dog.  She was pretty special!