All of Creation Eagerly Awaits (8/12/2022, Published 20 Dec 2022)
On the 8th of December 2022, Snowie's body was cremated and her ashes delivered to my home. That day marked 28 years of my walk with Jesus Christ my Friend, Master, Saviour and Lord. So I thought it apt to write about Snowie, of how God as her Creator, has used her in partnering with me to do God's kingdom work and also to parallel some wonderful truths she reflected in and through her life.
I don’t want to sound weird but I do recognise that God can use anyone and anything and can certainly use a dog. I am neither a vegan nor an activist or an animal lobbyist. I am simply a follower of Christ who believes in the redemption of mankind through the death and resurrection of Jesus, but am also an animal lover particularly a dog lover, who recognises and acknowledges God as the Creator of all.
Snowie was with my family for about 13 years (she was adopted at 6 months and fostered for 2 years when my family moved to Perth) since my daughter was 7 years old. Words cannot fully explain how deep the bond was between Snowie and I. If you are not a dog or animal lover this might be hard to understand, but to me Snowie was not just a dog. She was a gift from God, a portion of heaven here on earth, my best mate to a very large degree even though she could not talk. She was highly intelligent and could understand many words and sentences and would listen intently each time I spoke. Many strangers commented the same as I chatted with them. They noticed that Snowie would observe me every time I spoke and tilted her head as well as picking out the words she understood while I conversed with strangers. She was able to express and respond accordingly through those sentences and words. I guess we have had a deep bonding through life interactions and she understood what I was saying as well as my tone, gestures and body language with great sensitivity. Through observing her responses, I have also come to understand what she was also trying to communicate through her eyes, her body language and her expressions.
Snowie was "adopted" and "bought" with a price from a banker who had broken up with his girlfriend and did not have time to spend with Snowie who was then only a 6 month old puppy. When Jason, my daughter and I went into the house, she was in a playpen no bigger than 1 square meter, where she had been locked up day after day. Her white fur was stained yellow from her urine and poo that was not cleared.
She was extremely excited when we arrived and the moment she was let out of the playpen, she zoomed up and down in between the piles of newspapers, boxes and plastic bags stacked up in piles on the floor of the living area, as her first owner’s mum was a hoarder.
She locked eyes with us from the moment we arrived till the time we left. It was love at first sight and we immediately offered a price to the owner to redeem her. We prayed and waited with anticipation for the offer to be accepted as we could not bear to leave her another day in that situation. When the offer was accepted a few days later, we drove to pick her up and brought her home. We immediately washed and clean her, and her yellow stained fur became white as snow again.
God did the same for me 28 years ago when I encountered His love for me - He brought me out of the “shit pen” of sin and hell. I did not know I was stained and wallowing in my own sins. Then Jesus came into my life and gave me a personal revelation of the price He paid with His death and His precious blood shed for mankind which redeemed me from my sins. He rescued and adopted me as a child of God into the household and family of God. His precious blood shed on Calvary’s cross washed me and make me as white as snow.
What can wash away my sins?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
O precious is that flow,
that makes me white as snow.
No other fountain I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Snowie grew up with my daughter, who was then only 7 years old, and became an important part of the family. She was at all the important family functions and events, our birthdays, my daughter’s baptism, and we would celebrate her birthday every year with a doggy cake and a candle. She was in most of our house church gatherings, and she was a very sociable dog who loved having people over at our home. She had the most endearing personality and almost everyone who was part of our church community in Singapore enjoyed taking many pictures with her. Even children who had a fear of dogs, and would jump onto the sofa at their first few instances meeting Snowie, would eventually be won over by her sweet, calm and friendly personality.
Whenever we prayed for someone, Snowie would lick the person being prayed for, from the beginning of the prayer until we said Amen. We commonly joked that “Snowie prayed in tongues”.
When we moved to Perth in mid 2019, we were thankful to find our friend’s family to foster both Snowie and Trixie. We would visit them both and have them stay with us when we returned for short periods in Singapore until early 2020, when COVID-19 resulted in the closing of international borders. We missed them both terribly during the period of lockdowns and no-travels.
Our home in Perth was different without the dogs. There was no smiling face to greet us when we returned and there was a certain sense of emptiness in the house without their prancing and excitable barking. By June 2021, we started making arrangements for them to be relocated to Perth. They had to undergo 4x2 rounds of vaccinations and some health checks, and Snowie had to go through a dental surgery to remove 10 of her teeth. Then in Oct 2021, they embarked on their longest journey ever without family, a flight from Singapore to Melbourne, followed by a 10-day quarantine in Melbourne, which became delayed by another 3-day stay at a kennel due to flight cancellations and border closure uncertainties.
I remember that fateful day, when both Snowie and Trixie were scheduled to depart from Melbourne, I received a call that something had happened to Snowie. My heart sank as I was told that some accident had happened during transit and loading them up into the vehicle to the airport; and that she had struggled and landed with a yelp and started limping on her left hind leg. To prevent further delays to their arrival, I instructed them to have Snowie and Trixie continue their long journey to Perth as there were huge uncertainties regarding when another flight might be available due to closed borders. They travelled via an indirect flight from Melbourne to Sydney, with a 12 hour layover, and finally from Sydney to Perth, landing at almost midnight.
Our hearts broke and we cried buckets, in shock and disbelief, traumatised by the fact that when she arrived in Perth, she cowered in the corner of the crate, looking hurt and in pain refusing to come out, even when we opened her crate. What was supposed to be a happy reunion, turned out to be one of tragedy and trauma. As “parents” to our furbaby looking forward to days of happy reunion, our tears of joy were turned into tears of pain.
We brought her the following days for examinations and X-rays with 2 vets, who confirmed that she had likely torn all the ligaments in her left hind knee and needed specialist surgery.
We saw her struggle to walk and did everything we could to made sure she was comfortable, protected and pain-free. She was extremely resilient and had a positive attitude. Even after each of her multiple surgeries, when the vets said she must have been in extreme pain and huge discomfort, she never once whined, whinged, or complained. She would interact with us and others and would still be cheerful and iniquistive about her new environment.
When we saw Snowie after her intensive 1 and a half day surgery, the first thing she wanted me to do was to wipe her mouth. The surgeon was quite amazed and amused. She must have felt such a relief that I was there to wipe her mouth after eating some meal or perhaps after tubes were inserted through her mouth during surgery. As we brought her home in the car, she remained cheerful despite probably being in severe pain (the pain level was so intense that she was given a morphine release patch on her skin for over a week to help ease any pain). All the time during her recovery period, she exuded such calmness, peace and quiet assurance in our presence. However, she did let us know she did not like to go for walks which used to be her favourite activity. Nevertheless, she exhibited a deep level of trust that everything was going to be alright as long as she was with us.
Unfortunately, 12 weeks later, right after she was given the all-clear by the surgeon to walk freely on her own, she was walking in the field behind us, and when I looked back, I saw that she had collapsed to the ground and could not pick herself up to stand on all 4s. We rushed her to the emergency hospital where she was diagnosed with likely to have tore 1 cruciate ligament in the other hind knee, due to over-compensation and weight-bearing. An X-ray and surgery date was scheduled some days later. And in that meantime, she could not get up to walk at all and had to drag herself using only her front 2 paws. We had to carry and support her for toileting, and wherever she indicated she wanted to go; mostly to be with us and follow us around the house, we would carry her.
Carrying an almost 10kg Snowie also took a toll on my back, but on hindsight, I did get my daily exercise and became stronger in carrying a heavy load. I also thank God that I had recovered from my frozen shoulder well enough to be able to do all of that and be her main carer. I never minded one bit that we had to carry her over kerbs, steps or up and down the stairs. She was always sweet, cooperative, and trusting. Even when we had to clean her wounds, she never once reacted like an animal that is hurting and retaliate to bite. She always bore the pain with complete trust that everything is alright and although care for her was tedious and tiring, it was not burdensome.
I recall with fondness the time when I was very ill with a viral fever years ago in 2012. Snowie would not leave my side for 3 days and 3 nights. She would lay down next to me as if to comfort me the whole ordeal. I felt the best thing I could do for her was to be with her and comfort her as much as I could after her ordeal too.
On the day Snowie returned from surgery, while Snowie was not able to get up at all, my daughter received a dream from God. In the dream, she saw Snowie walking on all 4s. We prayed for Snowie and believed God for her to be able to walk again despite all odds. True enough, 4 days right after the 2nd surgery, instead of seeing her move around using her 2 front legs, she suddenly pushed herself up from her lying position to stand up on all 4s to walk for a short distance! We were in tears when that happened as we were not expecting such a sudden change. What resilience she had displayed in bouncing back from 2 back-to-back leg surgeries and having 2 metal plates, one in each hind and several screws inserted in each of her tiny legs.
Her face always lit up and she never failed to give us her biggest smile when we came home and whenever she got to go out on a car ride with us or whenever she got to sit at a café with us. Very often, we will always burst into song and dance when we see her when we see her after returning home. It was as if God was releasing a joy of heaven in our hearts whenever we saw her.
Snowie never failed to bring a smile on her face no matter what she was going through. She had many check-ups, and several physio sessions, as well as home therapy PEMF (pulse electromagnetic field) treatments and she never failed to go through them with such resolute and calmness. She had to go for an ultrasound scan once and she did not even need to be sedated for that scan which was the normal procedure for any dog. She laid on her back as long as 25 min for the scan while they probed the scanning device into her tummy , which was very unusual for any animal. After the scan, the radiologist’s report read “Snowie was very well behaved”.
Her left hind however never regained the full function to support herself to walk normally as the damage from tearing all 4 ligaments in her knee meant there was no support in that knee, and she would limp every time she walked. She could not walk on normal flooring in the house and most slippery surfaces and could not walk for more than 15 min each time. So we eventually laid yoga mats all over the floor of the house and also got a doggy pram to push her around in. We would still carry her over small steps, and in and out of the pram for very short walks. She was also able to travel many places with us in her pram and in the car. In fact, she went into many places she could never have gone without the pram. She went into shopping malls, into supermarkets, to cafes, and even went on 2 road trips with us in the last month of her life. She had an inside peek into our world most dogs did not have. Never once did she bark at all the new sights and sounds she was experiencing. She was always very calm and would simply soak up all that she could of our world and fitted into every part of it. Her calmness also naturally invited many to come and have a conversation with us as well. And we ended up befriending many of them eventually.
I have heard about and seen dogs that are depressed but not once did Snowie showed that she was sad, depressed or hurting. Even in her sleep, she would smile.
She had a very deep level of trust towards us and she trusted those whom we entrust her to and learnt to trust them too. She was sweet to the vets and nurses who took care of her. She would go through her vet visits with patience and simply treated every vet visit, check-up as another adventure with us. She would be inquisitive with every vet visit wanting to go through every door possible. She also did very well with needles whether be it to draw blood or for standing still for needling during acupuncture. Even right up to the last moments of her life when the needles were being inserted for euthanasia, she was still calm and cheerful.
Many including vets have told us that the animals will let you know when it is time, in that they will not eat for days or they will look sad or in pain. But such was not the case with Snowie. She even looked like she was smiling in her sleep. And right up till the moment she passed, she smiled. That was the most difficult part for us. She trusted us till her last breath that what we did for her was the best.
Trust is the cornerstone of any relationship. Without trust it is impossible to build any relationship. In these 28 years of my relationship with God, I have had to trust that God is in control of everything and especially so in the trials of life when I was in pain from a frozen shoulder/ bursitis and tendinitis in my shoulder joint, and had to battle a gut and autoimmune disorder, when I arrived in Australia despite having obeyed and followed His call here. (Read my other blog on “The Baptism in Suffering and the Revelation of Glory”).
There were times when I didn’t know and understand what was happening, but yet I have to trust in God’s goodness that all things work together for good to those who love Him. All I had to do was to rest in the assurance that He has me in the centre of His palm and that He was not going to let me go. I did not need to struggle in my fears, worries or pain, all I needed to do was to trust Him and continue to do so even till my dying breath.
God through Snowie showed me how much trust a dog can possibly have in a human; and if there is no fear but calm assurance in a dog towards a human, how much more we can trust Him who holds the universe in His hands, who numbers the hairs on our heads, and takes care of the lilies of the fields, who are here today and gone tomorrow; how much more will He take care of us?
25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God[e] above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today
Matt 6:25-34 (NLT)
God also used Snowie to teach me another quality. Snowie had an ability to be cheerful in suffering. That is reflective of a trait of Jesus my suffering Saviour and God when He was nailed to the cross suffering and dying for the redemption of the sins of humanity. Snowie is clearly no saviour, but she certainly did reflect her Creator God.
If a dog can be cheerful in suffering, how can we who have Christ, not also be cheerful when we go through suffering?
As Jesus said:
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
James 1:2-4 (NKJV)
It is interesting that the bible tells us about God’s creation not only in the book of Genesis, but in different parts of the bible. In the beginning, when God created animals and all of his creation. He saw that it was "good" (Gen 1:24). However they could not fully satisfy the heart of God in worship of Him and in relationship with Him, so He created Adam the first man and Eve the first woman to walk with Him and gave them to rule over all the animal and plant kingdom. In that beautiful order, "God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good" (Gen1:31). However, when Adam and Eve sinned against God through their disobedience, they and together with the rest of creation were subject to the curse of God through death.
Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.
Romans 8:20-21 (NLT)
22 For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. 24 We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. 25 But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)
Rom 8:22-25 (NLT)
The letter to the Roman church from Apostle Paul, tell us that we together with all of God’s creation have been groaning and hoping right up till now to receive the new bodies, which will be released from the cursed effects of sin and suffering. We did not receive this hope when we were saved, but there is a day of the new heavens and new earth of which we will all receive our new bodies.
For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth;
And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.
The wolf and the lamb shall feed together,
The lion shall eat straw like the ox,
And dust shall be the serpent’s food.
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,”
Says the Lord.
Isa 65:17, 25 (NKJV)
I look forward to the day we will see our new bodies and also see Snowie in her new body, no longer half bare-skinned, no longer with crippling legs; but with her fully whole legs and beautiful white fur coat. I don’t know what our new bodies will be like, but it will certainly be better than our earthly ones now. I look forward to the day when creation of God will be as new and the animal kingdom would co-exist with humankind where “the wolf and the lamb shall feed together”, the lion eating straw like the ox, just like the serenity in the garden of Eden at the beginning before the fall of man. I look forward to the new heavens and new earth God would create, with the patience and trust, I hope I have learnt watching Snowie in the last year of her life here in Australia.
I will never forget Snowie’s smile. She smiled with the smile of heaven here on earth. Earth is real and full of pain and suffering, and heaven is also real but full of joy and free from pain and suffering! God has given me a taste of heaven here on earth I will not forget through Snowie. Till the new heavens and new earth are created, we will live now in the old with a little foretaste of the new and in the glimmer of anticipation of that fullness of the new in time to come.
In Snowie's short 1 year here in Perth, God has used her greatly as a connector to enable us to get to know many others who witnessed how tough and positive she was through the multiple ordeals.
Snowie, you are truly a precious gift from God. In the past year God has used your courage and strength in adversity to teach us to love more strongly, care more gently, and live more positively.
Whilst we knew in our heart of hearts it was time to let you go, we still miss you terribly and cry our eyes out thinking about you. Your work on earth is done, but your legacy of people connected, lives touched, friendships built, and all the memories created together, live on in our hearts forever. ❤️
P.S: Since Snowie's death, we have held several memorial gatherings in our home where we have been able to share with many others including many of our neighbours, family and many other dog owners whom we meet at the dog park about God our Creator, through our life with Snowie together and how God used her in His work for her here on the earth.