On a Saturday afternoon in March 2008, our dog Quincy was attacked by four other dogs. When I got to him he was in pretty bad shape. The volunteer firefighters in the little community of Argo dressed his wounds until I could get him more help. He was awake the whole way to the hospital, in his bed and wrapped in a towel. I got him to the Animal Hospital in Birmingham and they gave me a guarded prognosis that he would probably pull through but that his wounds were severe. Unfortunately, he went into cardiac arrest later that night and died. Quincy had just turned 10 years old and was my companion for just about that whole time.

I was in college and missed my dachshund Penny back in Huntsville. I wanted a dog. My friend Lee had two Jack Russells: Jackie and South. They were going to have a litter. Unbelievably, they only had one puppy that time. When I asked Lee for the puppy, he said it was already spoken for. It turned out that a group of friends had paid Lee for the little guy as my 21st birthday present.

Then they found out I wanted to name him Gut Truck. I thought that if this was going to be my dog, he probably wouldn’t get a lot of baths. So he’d probably smell like, that’s right, he fell off the back of a gut truck. My friend Memorie would have none of that. So it was back to the drawing board.

My family had a black sheep cousin/uncle named John Quincy Adams. I’m not making this up. He went by Quincy, looked like Popeye, had tattoos and smoked a pipe. He was also a notorious cheap skate. He was mean to his wife. He was constantly taking people to small claims court. He spent all of his free time at the dog track. And when his car came up my grandparents’ drive way, all of us cousins would run for the woods to hide. Otherwise, he’d try to “give us sugar” kissing us on the cheek with his tobacco stained mouth. Lovely, huh?

Well, he died and I thought that I would try to redeem his memory. Hey, if Uncle Quincy was a real scoundrel, at least I could name a good dog after him. My granddad thought this was hilarious and my grandmother added this to the list of things that confounded her.

Quincy, the dog, had many nicknames, including Quincy the Magical Dog, Quincy the Wonder Dog, Mini-Q, Q-Dog, Quince, Quincy One-Nut, and a few others I have forgotten. I didn’t give all of these to him, roommates and girlfriends provided the majority. I called him my “Little Buddy”, because he was the Gilligan to my Skipper. But I never called him Gut Truck, even though he could clear the room with his gas.

He went with me when I moved to Minnesota and then to Texas and finally back home again. He was there for one of Shannon and my first dates and was there at our wedding reception. Through some of my roughest times and through all of my traveling, he was by my side.

He was a Jack Russell Terrier who loved meeting people and chasing lizards and squirrels. He didn’t like storms. He once made me take him for a walk around Lake Como in Saint Paul in below zero temperatures and hosted two charity events at our house on Bryant Drive in Tuscaloosa. He lived with too many different roommates and other pets in his life to name here. But it seems like everyone of them thought he was their dog too because of his friendly, laid back attitude.

His last day with us he was feeling great. He played in that rare snow we got that morning, my dad came by and visited with us, and just before I let him out for the last time, he took a nap next to me while I rubbed his stomach and ears. He had a great last day.

Our family and friends were incredible through this. My best friends from college dedicated their weekly podcast to Quincy. My brother-in-law’s mother sent us a card. My neighbor Tommy was crushed when he found out the news. He’d probably remind you of Lawrence from “Office Space” if you met him. He told me, “Man, I’d be more tore up over losing a good dog than most of my relatives.” I thought that was very touching.

Shannon and I still miss him. For our family, friends and roommates who ever shared a couch or some table scraps with him, I know they miss him too. Thank you for loving him like you did and for praying for us when we lost him. We mourned that we didn’t get any more time with Quincy. We thanked God we got to be friends with such a great dog.

My friend Tim sent me this quote. I had never heard it before, but I love it now and it brought me great comfort. So I share it now with you.

Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring – it was peace.
– Milan Kunderay, Czech novelist, playwright, and poet

I’m not what I would consider a maudlin person. But I do understand the healthiness of expressing loss and grieving. That Sunday night, we read Ecclesiastes before bed. People who think Christians should walk around their whole lives with goofy smiles that imply brainwashing, only saying things like, “How am I doing today? I’m blessed, brother!” should reread this book. Read the whole book and not just the third chapter.

The author constantly says that when he tries to make sense of this world he feels that everything in life is smoke and spitting into the wind. Yet, even with our inability to understand God’s plan or the “meaning of life” we should be assured that we do have each day to live life to it’s fullest, to care for each other, to work hard, to enjoy life’s pleasures, to serve God and leave the rest to Him to figure out.

Seize life! Eat bread with gusto,
Drink wine with a robust heart.
Oh yes – God takes pleasure in your pleasure!
Dress festively every morning.
Don’t skimp on colors and scarves.
Relish life with the spouse you love
Each and every day of your precarious life.
Each day is God’s gift. It’s all you get in exchange
For the hard work of staying alive.
Make the most of each one!
Whatever turns up, grab it and do it. And heartily!
This is your last and only chance at it,
For there’s neither work to do nor thoughts to think
In the company of the dead, where you’re most certainly headed.

Ecclesiastes 9:7-10 (from the Message//Remix)

The author isn’t saying to become drunks, gluttons or be promiscuous. But to enjoy the gift of life that God has given us while we have it. Christianity, always with our need for salvation through Christ’s crucifixion and in spite of the misguided efforts of dispensationalists, is not and never was intended to be a doomsday cult.

It’s been several years now. Our children have all been born since we lost Quincy. They see the memory stone with his name and image on it. I tell them stories about him. He is still teaching me to enjoy life in this world. He surely did. In his 10 years on this planet, he only had about one cumulative hour of pain or suffering. The rest of his life, he took all the joy he could get and gave all the joy he could share. That’s very similar to the Kingdom of God that Jesus has asked us to join. Yes, there is great evil in this world. Yes, there is great suffering. We must love God. We must do what He asks of us. He asks us to love each other and to do so with a joyous heart, knowing that each day on this earth is a gift. I think I can do that. I’m going to try.