When Your Dog Visits You in Your Dreams

Last night my dog Buddy came to me in a dream the way sometimes dearly departed souls visit you when you least expect it and the experience is so visceral, so deep that it both hurts and heals.

I was in the country with a friend checking out a farm for sale. I exited one of the many tattered barns and as I came around the bend Buddy was just standing there.  He appeared as a hologram floating in the mist, in the fog.


It had been 7 years since we last were together. I thought of him every day and while most of the thoughts were happy and provided me with wonderful memories of our life together; there were always those waves that washed over me at night - a tide burying me somewhere in the sand.


But now he stood in front of me and the hologram transitioned into all of Buddy and his beauty - just the way I remembered him -- healthy, handsome and goofy of course.


Buddy was quite a character. He was my birthday present when I turned 30 ( a Flat Coat Retriever we adopted from a shelter) and shortly thereafter I received a diagnosis that rocked my world. I was sick for years and Buddy was right there with me all the way.


He didn't care that I lost all sorts of weight, suffered from terrible migraines that left me half blind and bedridden. He didn't care that my hair was falling out or I was depressed and barely able to find the energy to go for a walk.


He stuck by me and as I grew better he joined me and his dad on camping trips and hiking all sorts of trails on the Eastern coast. We brought him everywhere with us so he had a solid understanding of people and how they interact and the ways of the world. But like most dogs he had his wild and uninhibited side. He chased a family of skunks into their den and well let's just say they all partook in his communal shower. He got us kicked out of a campground because he decided it would be a good idea to visit each and every site/trailer to say hello and see if the hosts might offer him a hot dog or even better a steak. He ran onto a lake that was thinly covered in ice, fell through and started swimming away from the shore (I snaked out on the ice and rescued him but we both came close to dying). 


He opened a knife drawer, took out all the knives - somehow did not cut himself and then he ate an entire Challah (bread), knocked wine on the floor to wash it all down (hiccups included). The one time we left him at daycare with no choice - he  managed to jump a 6 foot wall and ran all the way home (20 minutes away crossing major intersections). He ate everything and anything - there were socks and underwear coming out of him like a washer/dryer. He farted so bad you had to clear the room and not come back for 30 minutes (and he smiled with pride each time).


But mostly he was a wonderful, warm companion and my son.






One night at the age of 13, in the middle of the night after a great day of swimming in the lake and running in the woods - he collapsed from a massive stroke - no warning, no chance to say a real goodbye (whatever that is ) and he was gone. I remember not wanting to leave him and that given he had not deteriorated from Cancer or some other disease, his beautiful face, glistening coat - were still in tact. The light had left his eyes but his soul had departed to a far better place.

I went through the same process as everyone - wondering if he knew how much I loved him and wishing I had said thank you more - thank you for enriching my life the way only a dog can.


In the dream - he came to me and we hugged - I held him as close as I could never wanting to let go but he was being summoned and I could hear the calls like a whisper in the wind.


He told me he was in a safe and happy place with other dogs. They all watched out for one another and they played and shared their peanut butter/cheese/cookie Kongs.


He told me he loved me and missed me as much as I did him and that although it was rare for him to be able to penetrate the wall between our world and his beautiful place of peace; he was able to do so for fractions of a second from time to time.


Then he walked away and vanished into the white, into the blue, into a place I have never been.


Maybe forever but I hope not because forever is far too long.


Dogs are a gift. They are only with us for a short time but in that period they teach us what it really means to love and to be in the moment. They make us better people.


Bless you Buddy.


And to my readers everywhere - Bless the precious souls you have lost. I hope they visit you in your dreams if even for a second.


Who Will Take Care of My Dog If I Die?

It's a sick, haunting thought but we all know someone who has passed suddenly, tragically and unexpectedly. 

And if you are single and you have a dog - at some point you have to ask yourself - - 

"Who will take care of my dog if I die?

Having volunteered at a dog shelter, I often came in touch with dogs who had been left behind after their owners had passed away.

There was no succession plan like people have for their kids. These dogs were instant orphans missing their home and their human mom/dad.

Dogs suffer in silence. The deep sadness and confusion is difficult to alleviate because we can't explain to them what has happened and they can't ask any questions.

I'm alive and I don't leave my dog with anyone. I have had dogs my entire life and they have accompanied me on all my vacations (camping, hiking, no planes - car rides - anything for my pooches).

My whole life has revolved around my dogs and my present dog has only been with me for 7 months. He was given up by a family not once but twice and I promised him I would never give up on him.

But can I really keep that promise? Not if I am in a sudden accident or given a terminal diagnosis.

I worry about him when I bring him to the groomer and they ask me nicely to leave (I have sat outside in my car) so I can't imagine any other scenario.





I do however understand and appreciate the importance of a succession plan. Something would have to be drawn up in the way of a will and I would have to choose the best person to take care of my dog for the rest of his life.

 As a shelter volunteer I did weekend fosters giving dogs a break from shelter life and a chance to unwind in a calm, quiet environment. 

The first dog I fostered was an 11yr old toy poodle named Chai. The morning after her father suddenly died of a massive stroke and fell to the floor in front of her, the man's daughter dropped Chai off at the shelter.

She said her kids were allergic to dogs and she had no one to give Chai to so she was hoping we could find her a home. Poor Chai had been with the same person since she was 4 months old - a life partner - day in - day out.

There were always various dogs to choose from in terms of fostering but my heart sank for Chai - given her age and the story. I held her in my arms as she shook and licked my fingers - her sad eyes glazed over and looking into mine for a twinkle of hope.

She arrived at my house and started looking all over for her father. She cried in a low tone and found a corner of a room where she rolled up into a ball in clear pain.

I brought her into my bed and held her until she stopped shaking. Then she fell asleep next to me and finally stopped crying.

The next day she seemed to be happier and more animated.

But by Sunday night I had to return her to the shelter.

 I kissed her and hugged her and then had to put her back in her cage. She looked at me as if to say "Please don't leave me here" - I felt sick to my stomach. I wrote her evaluation and then her bio for the website and I left.

The next day I was at work and I could not stop thinking about her. Then on a whim, on an instinct and with a pounding heart - I left at lunch and went to see her at the shelter.

I had no idea why I was going or what I could possibly do but I needed to hold her in my arms.

Thankfully a retired couple who had taken in many senior dogs - had adopted Chai a few hours before I arrived. I was so happy for her especially for her father who could not have possibly rested in peace until that very moment he knew she was in good hands.

Chai will never forget her father and probably still waits for him; looks for him around every corner. 

My dog is my boy - my son - my best friend - my co-pilot.

I am making plans for him because I love him more than I love myself and it is my responsibility to ensure he is cared for whether I am here or not.

And because  - if I suddenly vanish I don't want him to vanish too.

What have you planned for your dog?


COME FIND ME



Since you left
I have been crashing into furniture in the dark
I have been waiting to feel something for someone else

I've re -examined the whole thing
Taken it apart piece by piece
Argued to the left
Argued to the right

I'm afraid to go to the places we use to hang out
Afraid I may see you - Afraid I may not see you

I come home at the end of the day
hoping you will be here
hoping you've changed your mind
about me
about us
about everything

I pray for amnesia to dull the pain
I fear that without you there is no me






I lay awake at night
Waiting to hear your key in the door
Waiting for you to come back
and tell me that everything is alright
that  you never stopped loving me
and you will never leave again

I need to see you
I need to hear you speak my name

And I promise you this...

 I will wait here
A few more moments

And if you do not show up
As difficult as it may be

I will wait here forever

I'm sorry

Come find me

I AM YOUR DOG AND THIS IS WHAT I KNOW

I know you love me more than you love yourself.

I know that you think of me all day when you are at work and I am at home thinking about you.

I know you would skip a weeknight out because I have been alone all day and weeknights are for me and you.

I know that if I wait on the floor beneath your chair that sooner or later you will drop some food and I will grab it and gobble it down before you can take it away from me.

I know all of your pain and have counted all of your teardrops and I don't like anyone who has hurt you or anyone who may hurt you.

I know you made sacrifices when you rescued me and that you gave me a second chance.

I know that when you came to the shelter I noticed you right away and I wanted you to take me home.

I know that when you saw me in the shelter, you thought I was cute and you heard my story and you felt badly and as much as you wanted to save me you were concerned as to whether you would be the right parent/home for me but you decided to throw caution to the wind and take me with you instead of leaving me behind.


I know that I will be forever grateful for that and your most loyal, loving friend for as long as I live.

I know that I shed all over the place and you have to vacuum every day and wearing black is not a good idea even if you like to wear black.





I know that you like to see me first thing in the morning when you awake as much as I like to see you and I know that I wait for you to come home when you are away and it feels like a million years have passed and when you return it is quite simply the greatest thing ever.

I know that when you fill my Kong you fill it not only with cookies and cheese but with love.

I know that the day will come when we will have to part and that where I am going you cannot join me.

I know that I will watch over you and when you pass to the other side I will come and greet you if only for a moment to give you a kiss and thank you for the wonderful life you gave me and then I will return to Rainbow Bridge.

I know that one day we will find ourselves in another place and time. You will be walking along a long and winding country road amidst the fog and I will be there at the next turn and will run into your arms and you will hold me forever in a world where forever exists.

I know that I am in your heart and your soul as you are in mine and that our love began the moment you walked me out of that shelter into the fresh air and rays of the sun that I thought I may never feel again.

I know that you saved me and I know that I saved you.

And that is all I know.

LISTEN TO YOUR DOG

My dog is brilliant and so is yours. Yeah they chase their tails and steal your socks and smell people's butts but they are still far more advanced than you and me in terms of their perception of time and life itself.

 So I  was watching this series on Showtime called "The Big C" (actually quite good) and the main character decided to participate in a "make my life better" type weekend conference (led by the amazing Susan Sarandon).

The metaphor/mission/message was delivered at the start of the weekend with participants receiving knapsacks that they had to fill with large rocks.

They then had to wear the knapsacks on their backs over the course of the weekend until they were able to prove that they had let go of the past - stuff like regrets, broken relationships, money not well spent.

I thought it was kind of cliche until that very night I caught myself doing the usual staring at the ceiling obsessing about the past - break ups, losses, failures and what should I eat for lunch tomorrow  and I realized I myself was carrying around a knapsack filled with rocks.

I needed to figure out a way to remove that knapsack from my aching back so I turned to the source of my joy - to the happiest - go lucky - soul I know - my dog Whisky.

"Whisky - how do you and all the dogs out there manage to live in the present?"





This is what he said:

"Listen you need to chill and enjoy every moment as it comes. Look out the window. Savour every morsel of your food. Play with your Kong and try to get the cookie and peanut butter out of the center. Stop looking in the mirror at your wrinkles and the bags under your eyes and instead chase your tail or get really excited when you come home from work and see me - act as if you have not seen me in a year. Love your family and show them that love. Be a loyal and compassionate friend. Be thankful for every morning that you wake up to - run circles around the bed - throw me a high five! And most importantly - forget the past because you are no longer in it,  you are never going back and it has forgotten you."

And you know what? The next morning I woke up fueled with a new sense of energy, I chased Whisky around the bedroom, I joined him looking out the window (he kissed the glass - I didn't). I really savoured the taste of my toast and jam as if it was the best food I ever eaten.  I called my Mom on the way to work and told her I loved her. I sent texts out to friends making plans for the weekend and I felt lighter, I felt refreshed as if I had been given a second chance.

The knapsack had been removed from my back. The weight of each and every rock gone.  I was living somewhere between the present and the future where if you think about it; is where everything really happens.

Moral of the story - Listen to your Dog - he's brilliant.


Kiss Me

Kiss Me

 Lips

 Tongue

Inhale

Exhale

Rock Me

Fill Me

Deep

Rescue Me

Hold Me

Explore Me

Here

There

Everywhere

In the dark

In the light

Up

Down

Again

and

Again




Taste Me

Tasting You

Warm

Wet

Love

Lust

Sex

All of

Me

All of

You

Accept Me

Respect Me

Kiss Me

For all of those who have found love and to the brave souls who are willing to try and find it again.

MOVING ON - SURVIVING THE END OF A RELATIONSHIP


moving on

it's a survival skill
like making fire
building a shelter
finding water

but no one teaches us
how to move on


after suffering a loss
experiencing failure
the end of a relationship

the end of something
that is never supposed to end

Love


                       


we stumble and fall
lose direction
lose ourselves
because we have no idea
how to move on

we remain stuck
in the middle
where there is no beginning
and no end

obsessing over the same thoughts
going in circles
with an aching head
and a beaten soul

we all need to move on

I do
You do

because there is nothing
in the stillness
and while you wait there


someone
somewhere
is moving on
from you



INTIMACY WITH A STRANGER - LESS ALONE - MORE ALIVE

He kissed me and nothing made sense - nothing about it was normal - everything about it was bliss.

We had met that afternoon at an espresso bar in Old Montreal on a sleepy Sunday when you don't want to leave your place or even get out of bed but as the day lingers on; you want to connect with someone - you want to leave so you can bring someone back with you.

I found myself doing the same thing, reading, writing, wondering when I was going to find the missing piece to the puzzle that had become my sunken love life.

He was lost in his sketch book and I was lost on my empty sheet of paper. 

We struck up a conversation and quickly moved our way through various topics including our past relationships, our jobs - his as a painter and mine as a writer.

He had sandy brown hair that he pulled back from his face only for it to fall back in place within seconds. His eyes were blue and he had a cleft in his chin that I wanted to nibble.

He held my hand from under the table stroking his fingers across the life lines of my palm. An hour passed and then two as the afternoon turned into early evening and as both of us knew we were leaving together.

My place was close by. We fell through the door in each other's arms undressing quickly while our tongues danced and our bodies collided the way bodies do when there is no turning back.

I smelled his cologne melting into my pores, the warmth of his lips waltzing along my neck, my breasts, down, down.






We made love in silence aside from the humming of the radiator. Time was sweet, time was sacred.

When it was over he kissed my eyelids and held me close against his chest where I felt his heart beat, where I felt safe.

It was as if we were suspended in air with all the day to day life uncertainties and challenges wallowing below unable to reach us - unable to disrupt our place in time.

I thought of how most of us live on a daily basis  disconnected at work spending more time with our co-workers than we do with the ones we love - worrying about money and health and relationships and change.

And the secrets we all think we have managed to lock away hidden under our sleeves that still manage to appear plainly visible through the lines on our faces and the depths of our souls.

There is that connection that we all long for - one that makes us feel wanted and needed and surrounds us with love and acceptance, warmth and certainty. 

And as I watched him sleep in my bed, I knew that he would soon be leaving through the same door we had entered intertwined as if we were meant to be together in some other place in time.

I slid under the covers and woke him up with kisses  that traversed down his chest all the way to where we would connect again - once, twice and then he was gone.

Peacefully and fulfilled I fell into a deep slumber as my eyelashes dreamed deliciously of a strangers wet beautiful lips kissing them ever so gently. 

I was less alone and more alive and that was all I could have hoped for. I knew sunrise would come and I would start all over again in search of a connection - one that would flow through me to someone else and with any luck - back again like a boomerang that never loses its sense of direction -  taking off into the air, always returning to that hopeful soul who stands there believing it will.