Our border collie, Kielsie, has been a part of our family for nearly eleven years but in recent years we have noticed that she is getting slower and that she sometimes seems to be a little stiff - especially at this time of year. I'm in denial, though. I don't want to accept that she will ever get old and I struggle to imagine a time without her.
Those who have pets know exactly what I'm talking about.
In New Zealand we don't have to worry about rabies. Something for which I am extremely grateful. Who wouldn't be? Not only are our beloved pets safe from this shocking and fatal disease (unless treatment is begun soon enough and is successful), but so are our nearest and dearest.
But there are other countries where rabies is a frightening concern. When DH and I visited South East Asia at the beginning of the year we seriously considered being vaccinated for rabies, but decided against it. Our friends where we would be staying had never had rabies on their property and they knew what to do if someone did get bitten.
That has changed.
About ten days ago a stray dog was discovered on the property. It fought with their animals and bit a staff member. At the time they didn't know if the dog had rabies, but they vaccinated their pets to be on the safe side. Yesterday, our friends woke to discover one of their dogs was infected with rabies - a dog that was in the house with all their precious beautiful children.
They had to put all their dogs and cats down and have started a mass vaccination programme of all the children. I'm assuming that this includes not just the ones in their household, but those in the boys and girls orphanages and those that attend the school. The financial cost will be huge (just ask any traveller who has had to pay for these vaccinations and multiple that sum many, many times over) but the emotional cost, as they wait out the incubation period until they know all are safe - or otherwise - will also be incredibly heavy.
My heart is heavy. But I believe in the power of prayer, and these dear people need our fervent prayers.