Monday, June 30, 2008

Absolutely Perfect

Back in April I wrote about Fran Baumgartner, a very dear friend who lives in Arizona with her two-and-four-legged family. One of the special four-leggeds in Fran’s life is Ginger. As you can see by her picture, Ginger is a little lady of great wisdom and beauty. She came to Fran after enduring terrible abuse, although how she lost one of her eyes isn’t clear. According to Ginger (yes…Ginger!) someone may have hit her with a baseball bat. She was trained to be Fran’s service dog. They communicate with their eyes, Fran says, even if they are one eye short.

Recently Ginger’s picture was entered in an online contest. What a lovely idea, I thought…until I heard the rest of the story. Apparently someone contacted the owner of the store that was holding the contest and asked them to remove Ginger's picture – too creepy looking, the person said.

The owner took immediate action. She used her software to “color in” Ginger’s missing eye, so she would look “normal.”

There are times when I find myself speechless – this was one of those times. Just look at this picture! Everything that is good and pure and lovely in the world is reflected in Ginger’s beautiful face. You can see the suffering, too - maybe that's what really bothered the person who complained about her. The world we live in encourages us to do everything we can to hide our pain...but Ginger's wounds show. And that's what makes her so special. One can only imagine the horrors that she has endured, and yet she still shows up eagerly for life with passion, a sense of purpose...and an open heart.

Perhaps Ginger is a "heavenly" being who took doggie shape and came to Fran because she knew she was needed...I don't know. What I do know is that Fran sees Ginger as the perfect little creature she is...and I am absolutely certain that Ginger sees Fran the same way.

And that’s really all that matters.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Making Space for a New Four-legged Friend

”How can I bring a new critter home without betraying the beloved dog or cat that I lost?”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked that question over the years! Knowing when to invite a new four-legged friend into your life is a personal decision that only you can make. But it breaks my heart when a person chooses a "fur free" existence out of a sense of loyalty to an animal that has passed on.

I like to share this story…

In 1995, after I lost my dearest dog, Martha, I was so heartbroken I couldn't think about bringing home another dog. I still had 15 year-old Gypsy in my life – my shy little shadow dog. She was quite deaf and couldn’t see well, either. She had always lived in the background, letting the other three dogs take center stage. After losing Penny, Jessie and then Martha, I thought I would let Gypsy live out her final days in peace and quiet.

That’s when I found myself at the animal shelter, adopting Jake. It had only been 7 weeks since Martha had left me, and although I worried about Gypsy I simply knew I was meant to bring Jake home with me. It was the best decision I ever made – for me AND for Gypsy!

Jake was very respectful of Gypsy. It’s not that he thought of her as dominant, he just realized she had a sacred space in the home. And for the first time, Gypsy came out of her shell and positively BLOOMED! Suddenly she was interested in car rides, and she and Jake travelled with me often during that time. She lived another 1 ½ years – and they were the best years of her life!

Susan Nelson shared her thoughts with me on this subject, after she read my book For Every Dog An Angel:

“When I received the book today, I went in my backyard and sat in my swing and read your beautiful book. I cried and cried some more, but finally my cry became a good cry for the first time. My family got another Yorkie for me, but I have had a hard time letting myself get close to him. I felt like I would be betraying my little angel, but your book let me realize it's okay to have a new little puppy. My family has tried very hard in helping me but somehow it clicked today. ” Susan Nelson

Along with her email came this picture of Reggie – her new puppy – asleep in her shoes.

I really do believe that animals are giving, joyous creatures. They want us to be happy – and are delighted to know another critter will get to share all the love we have to offer. It’s harder for human beings to understand this. I think we tend to be less generous with our love.
Once again, I am learning an important life lesson from my four-legged friends. May they never stop teaching me...

Friday, June 20, 2008

A Special Visit

Writing books for animal lovers brings many joys. Perhaps the greatest joy is meeting and sharing stories with other people who love critters as much as I do.

Most of these “meetings” occur via telephone, email or letters….but every so often I get to meet one of these wonderful critter people in person. Yesterday I had the opportunity to have lunch with Kathleen Otto, a woman I’ve spoken with several times over the years but have never met. Kathleen and her friend, Jeanne, drove up from California to attend a horse event in Oregon. Along with Kathleen’s horse they brought several doggies on the trip, including her little rescue dog, Taco, and Jeanne’s wise old doggie, Rascal.

Spend a few minutes with Kathleen and you will know immediately that she is a giving, compassionate person who loves all the creatures with whom we share this planet. When she told me the story of the friendship between the coyote and kitty who live on her land, I suspected the inspiration for that connection may come from Kathleen’s own gentle, guiding spirit.

Understanding my grief over the loss of my dear dog, Jake, Kathleen sent a very thoughtful gift to help me remember that Jake will always watch over me.

Some angels fly through the starry skies, while others tread softly on the earth. Kathleen is one of those earth angels…but when I look closely, I can see the faintest hint of wings glowing behind her.


Monday, June 16, 2008

Three Dreams

June 14th marked two years since my dog, Jake, left me to go flying through the heavens with the other angel dogs. There was a time when an anniversary like that would have left me in tears for several days. This year, however, was different.

It was because of the three dreams. The first came last year, two days before Christmas. I was outside, calling Jake’s name, and he came running to me through a grassy field. Even though it was daylight, I could tell there was a golden glow around him. He stood proud and tall, with a soccer ball in his mouth! This was a surprise, as I have no connection to soccer, and neither did Jake. He was happy beyond words, a twinkle in his eye, his heart telling my heart that all was well. Then he ran off, and it was crystal clear I could not follow him.

A few weeks ago he came to me in another dream, happy and content as he had been in the earlier dream.

Last week he visited one more time while I was sleeping. In this dream he had come back to life, and as we walked along people who knew us nodded and smiled, as if it was perfectly normal that Jake was alive again. I remember thinking I should write a book about it, but no one would believe me!

It feels so clear - Jake is truly doing well, and when he can he checks in to let me know that although I may miss him, there is nothing to grieve.

So, last Saturday, on June 14th, every time I thought of Jake I saw him wrapped in a golden glow, standing in the tall grass….and I smiled.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Brotherly Love

I like to think that when we do good things, sometimes the universe smiles down upon us and miracles happen!

If you want to read just such a story, be sure to visit the Good Samaritan Pet Center website and check out their newsletter page

Click on the Summer 2008 newsletter and read the article called Brotherly Love that begins on page one. This is the story of Shane & Liam, two 8-yr old Shepherd mix brothers who had been at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah for 5 years.

What happens after Beth Springer, Executive Director of Good Samaritan, visits the brothers is sure to bring smiles and joyful tears.

I LOVE happy endings!


Saturday, June 07, 2008

Animal Communication

Anyone who shares their life with an animal knows they are always talking to us. Whether through hopeful eyes, the flick of a tail, or a picture that comes into the mind loud and clear, our critters are always trying to communicate with us….although we may not always understand what they are saying!

Sometimes finding a peaceful space, quieting your mind and opening your heart may help you better receive the thoughts your critters are trying to convey. If that doesn’t work, you may want to contact someone who specializes in animal communication.

I have had the pleasure of participating in workshops with two animal communicators --
Val Heart and Lauren McCall

To learn more about how the process works, I suggest you visit their websites or get in touch with them directly. Be sure to explore the Free Animal Talk Teleclasses that Val offers on her homepage.

Here’s to better communication!


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

A Favorite Book - The Tao of Meow

The other day I was re-reading one of my favorite books – The Tao of Meow, by Deborah Wood. I came across the following lines, which I had highlighted the last time I read the book:

“In fact, because cats are such creatures of the air, the energy flow from their feet to the ground is especially important – it provides an anchor. Mostly, cats almost float on their feet.”

I had to smile, because several weeks ago I blogged about the incredible lightness of cats – how they keep me feeling airy, as if I could lift off the ground at the drop of a hat and take a casual day trip through the universe. Deborah’s words touched my heart. The term “kindred spirit” comes to mind – a person who shares beliefs, attitudes or feelings with another. And few things bring people together like a shared love and appreciation for animals.

Deborah is the author of The Tao of Bow Wow and The Tao of Meow, as well as The Little Dogs' Beauty Book and several other titles for those who have a special connection with smaller dogs. As she shares her life with three Papillons, this should come as no surprise. She also writes a weekly pet column for The Oregonian newspaper.

Beyond that, she is an uplifting and inspirational person - you can't help smiling in her presence! Be sure to check out her blog