A puppy called Courage

Monday 4.11.13 is not a day that I want to repeat in hurry.  It’s been a couple of weeks now and last week was just too busy to be able sit down and put something together.


Just under half the size of his brothers, Sisu, the runt of Dream’s second litter, was born second although vets and pet owners will tell you the runt is born last.  He didn’t have a suckle reflex at birth and pretty much had be to hand fed for the next three weeks.  It took about 10 hours to get the first feed to him but in this time he wormed he way to the warm places in the midst of his brothers.  The younger duckling had had a dream that one of the pups should be called Sisu, and so it was that the runt got this name.

Sisu is Finnish for courage, bravery, stubbornness, determination.  It’s the quality that enables a Finn to cope with the -20 winters in just their underpants.

Looking back, it was clear from the get-go that this puppy wouldn’t survive.  Dream knew it for sure.

During Sunday 3rd, Sisu was weakening but still hanging in there.  We made up some weak saline which perked him a little and he got through the night.  Monday morning, though, was clearly going to be crap.  He was unable to keep liquid down, was weak and seemed in pain.  A taxi was booked and an emotional, 6ft, stubbly and tired man carried a sickly runt, in an old army wool hat, to the vet.  I figured it wasn’t fair to explain to the driver what was going on, so we just talked about the rain, which was just torrential.

At the vets, my voice was all all over the place as I described what was going on with us.  I was a little moist around the eye, the receptionist was getting little pink in the eye too.  She was brilliant though and carefully explained what might be wrong with Sisu, what would happen in the wild and discretely left me to draw my own conclusions.

As she started to fill in the paperwork for our visit, I still have a wry smile over what happened next.  Sisu had been restless, and I was shushing him and stroking him.  I think I nearly chewed my lip off trying keep myself together.

“What’s the puppy’s name?”, asked the receptionist.

I just managed to squeak out, “Sisu”.

I think we both nearly lost it.  I barely got his name out, and the receptionists back was like iron as she tried to keep professional detachment as she typed this in.  I can see the funny side of this.  I’m all tired, and big, and stubbly and emotional.  It’s not something you see everyday in Finland from blokes.  The poor lass did a really good job.

The vet arrived and the next half hour was just very sad as Sisu passed away.  Those who’ve been there know this.  Those who haven’t, that’s fine.  It was just sad.

A good friend came to give us a lift back home.

Mother Duck said an emotional goodbye whilst the ducklings seemed amazingly focussed on buttering bread or Mine-craft.  Dream looked at Sisu, cleaned him a little and gave us a sort of :

“.. and ? ” expression.  “I tried to tell you, but you wouldn’t listen.  Honestly ..”

With goodbyes said, I figured I’d better find a shovel, and a nice spot in the forest.  Being my habit, I asked God for any suggestions, and a familiar spot came to mind.  When I got there, I listened in case God suggested any suitable trees.  One caught my eye so I swung the spade down good and hard.

Schkwung ..

Bedrock. Very funny.  Anywhere else?

A good spot was found, the tree marked and the pup laid to rest.  Spade back in the shed, farewell to family and a taxi to work.  3 hours late. Uninformed.  Soaked, sweaty, unshaven red blotchy face.  Un-presentable.  And there’s my boss with his boss in the office directly behind my desk. Could things get any worse?  Apologies and explanations were given and accepted.

Amongst the complications was the handing over of the on-call bag which my line-manager couldn’t do as I was late.  I contacted the next guy in the ring and he came to collect the bag and gave me a lift home.

Later that evening as I was going through the bills and bank accounts I noticed that Mother Duck’s father had sent some money for no particular reason a few days earlier.  This covered more-or-less exactly the two taxi rides and the vet bills.

So .. summing up.

On a Monday which I never want to see again, God was all over it.

  • He covered the costs beforehand
  • He let me see the lighter side of very gloomy trip to the vets
  • Got me a ride home
  • Joked around with the finding somewhere to rest Sisu
  • Let me see the funny side of arriving at work late and completely un-presentable in front of two levels of management
  • I got a free ride back from work

You see, my God is god that turns mourning into dancing (Psalm 30:11) and He showed me that He, not Death, has the final word in all things (1Cor. 15:54:55).

The thing is, I was able to share this with an old guy who started talking to me at the shops the next day.  We’d been talking a while and found out we both go regularly to church and both believe in Jesus.  After a while he explained how he was worried about getting old, he had Alzheimer’s and seemed scared at how things would end.  With the day before still fresh over me I was able to encourage him that, without a shadow of a doubt, everything would be ok; that Jesus, not Death, has the final word.

Poor guy teared up as he thanked me.  Seems like everyone’s crying these days.




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