I have never written a tribute for an animal before. But our Chala was no ordinary pet… no run-of-the-mill dog. Chala was special and we have learned much from our Loyal Companion…
During the time our Bethany was sick, we made application for a ‘Companion Dog’ – a highly trained animal who would be able to help Beth manage life as a hemiplegic. Beth looked forward to this possibility for a time, and so did the rest of the family.
But when it became clear that our girl was ‘Homeward Bound’, we regretfully withdrew our request. To our surprise, Chala, a Golden Retriever deemed ‘too friendly’ and ‘not road safe enough’ to continue with her formal training, was offered to our family in exchange for a transport donation. We are so thankful for the friends who raised the needed amount for Chala to become ours.
So, just as we were saying ‘goodbye for now’ to our Brown-Eyed-Beauty, God sent another brown-eyed blessing, wrapped in a cosy bundle of fur, to help with our healing.
Chala came bounding into our lives weeks before Beth left – quite literally! In her first minutes with us, we allowed Chala to jump up on Beth’s bed and although Beth was unable to respond, we like to think she was aware that a new member had been ushered into our family.
David’s brother and his family cared for Chala during those last weeks, while we nursed Beth. The day after Beth’s passing, we went off to church to worship God and grieve with all the loyal companions who had journeyed with us. We then went to pick up our new companion – and little did we know then what delight and comfort she would bring us over the next eight years.
Sadly, our Chala passed away over the weekend, just 24 hours after collapsing in our back yard. She had shown signs of slowing up and had recently gone off her food – both unusual traits for our fun-loving, constantly hungry girl. But we were still caught unawares that her time with us had come to an end. To simply say she will be missed is an understatement.
CHALA – WRECKED AFTER A LONG BEACH WALK!
We are so thankful to God, our True Loyal Companion, as again He cushioned the blow for us, setting in place some beautiful timing that meant we could all be together as a family to comfort each other as we dug Chala’s grave and laid her to rest in a special blanket. As we covered her over with both dirt and tears, we thanked Him again for bringing such a precious gift to lighten our load.
When I think of Chala, it will always be with a smile. I will miss watching her play with our children and hearing the laughter only she could evoke. I will miss resting by the fire with her, gently stroking her soft coat on those cold nights. I will miss our walks. I will miss seeing her joy in greeting the men in the family – she always had a soft spot for the boys!
Chala was not only a gift to us, but to David’s parents next door. While Mum was still at home in the early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease, Chala put on some extra weight. We eventually discovered that Mum kept giving her treats and forgetting… then some more treats… with no complaints from Chala!
I think that Pa Wake will miss her more than the rest of us put together. He and Chala shared a special bond. She really was such a Loyal Companion to a family in grief on so many levels, truly blessing everyone who entered our home with her loving ways.
No, dear Chala, you did not really ‘fail’ your training as a Companion Dog, as we sometimes joked. Instead, you beautifully fulfilled your calling in a manner that went way beyond any training could offer. You reflected aspects of Your Creator to us and were a gift from His heart to us all.
Chala was a master at totally accepting us and knowing how to just be with us in our sorrow. Not only did Chala just love being with us, she always wanted to touch us with her presence. She simply loved physical affection and was known as a ‘leaner’.
Oh, how I will miss you most of all at that special place called Seaspray… you and Beth both played there as you tasted a slice of Heaven. I will miss seeing you lean up against my man, your best buddy, as you fished together on many golden mornings. Thank you Loyal Companion!
Chala always left bits of herself behind wherever she went. I can’t believe I am saying this, but I will also miss cleaning up Chala’s shed hair all over the house (maybe not so much over our clothes). That hairy mutt certainly worked her way into our hearts and she will leave a big empty space… one that lies tucked next to our Beth.
We are so grateful for our Chala. May we learn from her peaceful kindness and BE Loyal Companions to each other in our times of need – blessing each other with our total acceptance and presence. May we also lean in like she did, not afraid to bring touch and comfort when words just cannot be spoken.
And one more thing… may we also leave evidence of our lives behind us… in the knowledge that we are loved and have loved well.
In loving memory of ‘Our Chala’
12 August 2009 – 10 June 2019