Monday, December 04, 2006

The Christmas Miracle

Something awakens in the heart of a dog when he knows that he is needed.”

It was the week before Christmas in 2004. The cold rain beat down on my car as I drove up the hill to my home in the woods. I almost didn’t see the dog tied to the tree stump. She sat stick straight, and never took her eyes off me as I got out of my car. After speaking with her family I learned that Maya, an exuberant 80 lb. puppy, had been left with them by a relative no longer able to care for her.

After bringing Maya treats, toys, and even a large dog house, it became clear what she really needed was a home. It took several weeks, but I was finally able to convince the family to release her to me. With the help of a local veterinarian, Maya was admitted into Project Pooch ( an organization in Oregon that pairs incarcerated youths at a correctional facility with dogs who need a little “behavioral assistance.” Maya eventually found her forever family, and is living the good life with two canine companions and a woman who adores her.

When I first met Maya, the young children of the family brought me into their home and showed me a treasured Nativity set that sat on the bookshelf. I didn’t know it at the time, but that simple moment would become very meaningful in the days that followed the Christmas holiday.

It was in the shower, on New Years Day 2005, that I heard a story being told to me about an old, chained dog, who wanted to leave the sadness of his earthly life and go to heaven.

“Ok,” I said, as I washed my hair, “but how does the dog get to heaven?”

The answer came immediately. “The Nativity.”

Thus began the story of Old Dog and the Christmas Wish, my newest book about a forgotten dog who sees the neighbor’s Nativity display on Christmas Eve and knows he has one more task to complete in the short time he has left on earth.

It was Maya who inspired the story, but it is the spirit of my beloved dog, Jake, who I lost in June, that runs through the pages of this book. To Jake, who is flying through the starry skies.... may you never stop watching over me. And to Maya, who is finally running free....I offer a most heartfelt thank you!

May your holidays be overflowing with peace, joy and of course...FUR!


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Happy Halloween!

October has always been one of my favorite months. The colorful leaves and chill in the air are very inspiring.

Although Jake won't be with me this Halloween, he was often the first in line when it came to trying on Halloween costumes. I know he'd understand my sharing this picture - he certainly wore that wizard hat well!

To all you ghosts and goblins...Happy Halloween!


Sunday, October 15, 2006

Letter to the Universe: This isn't funny anymore!

Six weeks have passed, and I’ve come to the conclusion that the universe has a fabulous sense of humor!

A week after my last entry – you remember, when I was feeling GOOD – I had an unexpected visit from that nasty food poisoning that went around the country. I missed an important theater event that I’d been looking forward to, but I made it through the nasty stuff – or so I thought.

A week later, ongoing problems led me to a 4:00 a.m. emergency room visit, where complications from the food poisoning caused a long night of some serious pain. Three days later I was back in the same hospital, having hand surgery – at least THAT had been scheduled. The surgery was to correct a minor problem in my right hand – my LEASH hand, as I told everyone.

So, things seem to be healing and I’m back in business. However, I’d like to respectfully let the universe know that while I appreciate a good joke as much as the next person, the only thing I hope that remains on the “Universal Chris Davis To Do List" is to light the way as I continue on my journey toward a new canine companion....because I'm ready.

Still smiling,


Sunday, September 03, 2006

An Unexpected Smile

It came without warning....I was driving home the other day and found myself smiling! It had been a long time since I’d had a smile on my face. During the last year, I’d watched Jake’s health decline and knew our journey would soon be coming to an end. Shortly before Jake’s passing I lost my mother to Alzheimer’s disease. A few weeks later Jake was gone. Needless to say, all this reflected on my face – I looked tired and pale, with eyes that hoped for a reprieve from all the pain and a spirit that searched for a reason to keep going.

So on that morning...the morning of “the smile”.... I asked myself what I was feeling, and the truth was I just felt GOOD! It was one of those lovely little moments when everything feels right in your world. The disconnection I’d felt during the previous months seemed far way, and I was floating on a nurturing cloud of love and support from people all over the world who knew the loneliness and grief I’d been struggling with.

And....I got a clear message from Jake, who told me to knock off the sad stuff and get out there and start living again! This was said kindly, but insistently, with eyes shining brightly and tail wagging.

So the journey continues.....


Monday, August 14, 2006

The Sounds of Silence - Life Without a Dog

I was watching a movie the other day and found myself caught up in the score – the music that pulls all the pieces of the film into a cohesive package for me. Having a musical background I guess it is understandable that I would engage with the universe through my auditory senses....I HEAR the world.

I always said I would have made the worst private detective – I could step over the evidence and never see it! But I seem to be able to hear sounds even if they are very soft or far away - the bird singing off in the distance, the clock ticking two floors down....and those magical voices that come at any hour of the day or night, giving me tidbits of stories that must be written down.

It is no wonder that one of the first things I told people after I lost my dog, Jake, was how quiet my home had become. I didn’t realize how many sounds a dog makes. The sound of his collar rattling when he would shake his head, the sound of him barreling through the dog door, the excited squeals when I said those magic words “Go for a ride?” – they are all gone now. The absence of the night time sounds is particularly hard on the heart – no more quiet breathing, no more loud snoring, and no more barks and dancing paws as he runs with his friends in the world of dreams.

But.....I am now able to hear the precious sounds my four cats make! Instead of a loud bark I hear soft whispers, meows, purrs and trills. From some far off place in the house I hear the squeaking of a cat toy being wrestled with....or a CAT being wrestled with! There’s the scraping in the litter boxes, the clawing on the scratching posts, and the silent but telepathically LOUD sound of a cat sitting in front of an empty food bowl, willing me from three rooms away to come fill it.

It is becoming clear that for me to have peace with the audible part of my life I must have both cat sounds AND dog sounds....for I am out of balance.


Thursday, July 27, 2006

Saying Goodbye

So how do we know when it’s time to say goodbye?

Over the years I’ve spoken to many people about this...people who were agonizing over a decision yet to be made, and others who were in anguish over a decision that might have been made too soon, or one that should have been made earlier.

What I think is this – it is an excruciating decision, whenever it is made. We shouldn’t have to be in the position of ending a just feels wrong. But our animal companions depend on us to make the “right” decisions on their behalf, and for many people that means deciding when the journey together is over. We look into their trusting eyes and say “It’s ok...if it’s time for you to go I understand.” But we really don’t understand, and we don’t feel ok. We feel terrified, lost and alone, hoping we’ll wake up from this nightmare and see that our furry friend is well and young....the journey just beginning.

I was talking with someone about the end of Jake’s life, and how he was better one day and worse the next. I said the reality is that often at the end it’s not a straight downhill slope – there are peaks and valleys, and it’s the peaks that make it so hard to know what to do. We become desperate. Do we hang on? Do we wait one more day? We want as many more “todays” as we can have with our critters.

In looking back, I realized that whether I lost Jake on a Wednesday, or Friday, or we put it off until the following week really didn’t matter. It was going to be as heartbreaking next week as it would be tomorrow. What DID matter is the relationship we shared. Did we do everything we were meant to do together? At the end did we really know....I mean deep down in the core of our being know....that this journey was complete and it was time to let go?

That’s what I knew about Jake. I knew our time together was not measured in days or weeks or years, but in....forever. We had known each other always and would be together for all time. In remembering that I found peace.


Sunday, July 16, 2006

Letting Go

From the movie “Casper”:

“I know you’ve been searching for me. But you have to understand, you (and Kat) loved me so well when I was on earth that I have no unfinished business.”

It had been a long time since I saw “Casper” but I never forgot those words. They come at the end of the movie, when the spirit of Bill Pullman’s deceased wife appears to him and he is overcome with emotion.

Those words have been very close to me these past weeks as I mourn the loss of my dog, Jake. I keep expecting to sense his presence – under my feet at the desk, coming through the dog door, looking for me at the window. But I haven’t felt that he’s been around much, and at first it surprised me.

When I lost Martha, back in 1995, I was emotionally devastated and I did everything possible to hang onto her – both before she died and after. In the weeks and months following her loss she came to me all the time. She’d appear frequently in my dreams. I’d see visions of her everywhere. In fact, it was a very strong vision of her (floating peacefully in the arms of an angel) that would ultimately become the cover of my first book, For Every Dog An Angel.

When I looked back on how I tried so desperately to hold onto Martha I knew I had done the best I could, but I also knew in the future I would try to handle the end of my journey with my animal companions differently. It wasn’t my place to try to hold them back. What I needed to do was live my life with them so well...that at the end I could let them go with love and grace. This does not mean without tears.

And that is how I think it is with Jake. He and I could not have done it any better. When the time came for him to leave me, I let him go....with no unfinished business between us.

But oh, how I miss him....


Monday, July 10, 2006

Losing Jake

“And there will be times when your world will fall apart, when a beloved animal becomes lost, ill or has simply come to the end of their journey with you.”

I wrote those words on June 5, 2006, not knowing a week later they would describe my own world. On June 14th I lost my most beloved dog companion, Jake. Since then I have been walking that lonely path, expecting to see his face in the window when I come home and yet knowing he has left me to fly among the stars.

It is almost impossible to put into words how broken-hearted I am. I wonder if the sharp edges of my grief will ever soften into warm smiles as I remember all the magical times Jake and I shared. Many people who have loved...and lost...a furry friend will know exactly what I am talking about. I’ve always believed if you love someone very deeply, you will grieve them just as deeply when they are gone. The love Jake and I shared was pure and deep and strong.

Hardly a day goes by that I am not on the phone speaking with someone who has lost an animal companion. Losing Jake has brought back all the sadness and hopelessness one feels at this painful time. It occurred to me that sharing some of this journey in future posts might be both healing to me and, perhaps, comforting to others.

One thing I must do now is thank the many, many people who have offered comforting words during these past few weeks. Without their support the difficult days would have been even darker.

More soon.....

Monday, June 05, 2006

Animal Lovers are the Best People

For the last nine years, after the publication of my two books For Every Dog An Angel and For Every Cat An Angel, I have had the privilege of connecting with animal lovers all over the world via phone, letters and email. One thing I know for sure....animal lovers are the BEST people! When you reach out to someone who shares their life with a furry, feathered or finned creature you connect on a heart level. It doesn't matter where you live, what you look like, how much money you make or how old you are, loving an animal bypasses all those essentially unimportant parts of a life and lets you dwell, even for a moment, in the land of feelings.

It can be a frightening place, the land of feelings, especially when it comes to sharing your life with a critter. There will be times you didn't know you could laugh that hard. There will be times you didn't think you could love that deeply....or love that deeply, AGAIN....or allow yourself to BE loved that deeply.

And there will be times when your world will fall apart, when a beloved animal becomes lost, ill, or has simply come to the end of their journey with you.

Over the years I've smiled with people who've called to share funny stories about their animal companions. I have also shed many tears with people who've contacted me after the loss of their beloved furry friend. If you've ever lost an animal you know that time...just afterwards...when you feel empty and alone, and can't believe your dog or cat isn't going to be there to greet you when you get home.

How many conversations have I had with people who still hear their dog's nails clicking on the kitchen floor, or still feel that furry bundle in bed, long after the critter has left them. I understand, because I've experienced it, too.

So let this be a welcoming place to anyone who appreciates the special bond we have with the animals with whom we share this planet!