You’re allowing yourself to mourn, and you’ve been learning how to listen. You’re already writing in a journal. Your dog will reincarnate. If you want your dog to come back to you, he will. But you have to want it. You have to want it so badly that you can imagine it happening.
You may be fortunate enough to have discovered you possess psychic powers you never expected. Maybe you’ve already found your dog, or have a strong intuition about where and how to look for him. If not, don’t worry. It’s still early days.
Either way, you must be prepared for people who will try to talk you out of believing your dog will come back to you. Don’t argue with them.
Remind yourself that they mean well. They are entitled to their beliefs, just as you are entitled to yours.
If nothing seems to be happening, you may be trying too hard.
Remember the old Glen Campbell song, “Gentle On My Mind”? The idea isn’t to think about your dog every minute of the day but rather, to continue to live your life with your dog always “gentle on your mind.” So don’t obsess. Just let go and float with the energy, the way you’d float down a river on a raft.
There’s also the possibility that things are happening and you haven’t noticed. We’re all so “plugged in” these days, bombarded with thousands of verbal and nonverbal messages, filtering out everything we don’t “need” to know. So be vigilant.
What you’re seeking may arrive as a piece of music playing over and over again in your mind, or an advertising slogan, or an image from a billboard. Psychic messages are often symbolic. Why is this bit of music – or this slogan, or this image – so vivid? What does it evoke?
Nonverbal information is important. We trust it, intuitively. This is why pharmaceutical advertisements show images of happy people playing on the beach with their children or chasing butterflies as a voice-over quietly describes the potentially devastating side-effects of the drug being advertised.
We remember the images, not the warnings.
So pay attention to the nonverbal promptings of instinct and intuition, including fleeting thoughts, hunches, and daydreams. These come naturally, if we just allow them to do so. They don’t come to you through your eyes and ears, but through your soul. In other times and other cultures, leaders and wise men actively sought such promptings, but we don’t. We don’t take them seriously. We have forgotten how to listen. Yet with practice, we can learn.
We all still have the necessary equipment, even though it’s stiff and rusty
from centuries of non-use.
Certainly, consider a consultation with an animal communicator or an animal psychic, if this appeals to you. There is a sound, scientific basis for the things these people claim to be able to do, and they’ve helped many bereaved pet parents reunite with their beloved animal companion.
Provided you have access to a computer, finding them should be easy.
But take your time, and be selective. As with any profession, some animal communicators are probably better than others. Choose with your soul, as well as with your mind. Read through the material you find on their web pages, and notice which ones just “feel” right. Go with that feeling, and you probably won’t go wrong.
Should you try to find someone local? I don’t really think it matters, although some people prefer face to face contact. In any case, your initial contact will probably be by telephone. Again, be aware of how it feels, talking to this person. What kind of vibes are you getting? Remember, it has to feel right because if it doesn’t, it probably won’t work. And remain open to the idea that perhaps, you don’t need an animal communicator.
Finally, don’t reject anything because it seems too easy or too obvious.
If your dog died more than eighteen weeks ago, he may be someplace nearby, waiting for you. He may be one of a litter of puppies. He may be in a shelter.
He may be in a good home, the beloved companion of someone who – for whatever reason – will be forced to give him up. If you feel a sudden urge to check out a local dog adoption event, do it. You may not find your dog there.
But you may meet someone who will eventually help you find him.
Something will send you towards him. Something will send him towards you.
So be ready.
Keep him gentle on your mind, like a strand of seaweed floating upon the tide. Remember, there are no coincidences. Everything happens for a purpose, and the universe is unfolding exactly as it should.
Somehow, a week passes. When I wake up the Friday morning after Mikel’s death I think, This time last week Mikel was still alive.
Throughout the day, I remember where we’d been and what we’d been doing at this time last week. The day had begun with our happy little morning walk, Mikel prancing along so cheerfully that even with the surgery looming I was able to persuade myself that everything was going to be okay.
We’d spent most of the morning at the clinic, Mikel sleeping peacefully at my side. Just before noon, I remembered how they’d brought him back to me after he’d had his first sedatives, so that he could wait next to me, rather than in a cage. I’d kissed his dear little nose before they took him to the operating room and whispered, I love you to the moon and back.
Mikel was in surgery during the slow, sunlit afternoon hours. All I could do is wait. I remember at one point Dr. Lana came out and ushered me into a small, private room where she explained that it was worse than anyone thought. She said they were doing their best, but the unspoken message was that Mikel might not survive. Alone again, I remember how I kept looking at the clock, wishing for it to be over. I remember how frightened I was, how helpless I felt.
Finally, Dr. Lana came out to tell me they were “closing” – he’d made it, after all. Less than an hour later, Mikel was awake in the recovery room. He was on his feet, staggering and dopey but making himself comfortable curled up against the stuffed toy I’d brought for him. He always liked to sleep that way, with his head on one of his stuffed animals.
Now, watching the sun sink behind the buildings to the west. I think,
This time last week, I was driving back to the motel, dazed and giddy with relief. And grateful, so grateful. And unaware that Mikel had less than six hours to live.
But what could we have done differently? His pericardial sac was filling with fluid yet again, the surgery had been his only hope. I knew that then and I know it now. Sitting here in my silent condo, alone with my thoughts, I want to blame someone. But there is nobody to blame. Nobody had done anything wrong. Everyone had done their best.
Buddhists think that after death our consciousness – our spiritual essence – remains in a sort of limbo which is called the bardo of becoming.
Sogyal Rinpoche likens it to a transit lounge, where we await the connection to our next life. Our rebirth depends upon how quickly we are able to make a karmic connection with our future parents.
Most beings remain in the bardo of becoming for three weeks before finding their future parents and preparing to reenter the bardo of life. Some take longer. On the other hand, when an individual’s karma – good or bad – is very strong, the entire process can take place in a split second.
I think that’s how it was with Mikel. I think he went straight to his mother’s womb. That was why they’d been unable to revive him, when his heart stopped. They couldn’t bring him back because he was already someplace else. I lie awake for hours that Friday night, envisioning Mikel as a tiny embryo in his mother’s womb, snuggled with his brothers and sisters. I can actually see them, in my mind’s eye. They look like tiny lima beans.
But when I open my eyes the next morning, all I feel is the searing sorrow of loss. I get up and get dressed, going leadenly through the motions.
But there is no respite, no escape from the constant pain. I can’t read. I can’t work. I can’t concentrate. I can’t even watch Lifetime movies. All I want is for it to get dark, so that I can crawl back into bed and escape into the oblivion of sleep. But the days are getting longer as we near the summer solstice. and when twilight finally comes, it lingers on and on.
Telephone calls from friends and acquaintances have tapered off except for Jeannie, who makes a point of talking to me at least once a day. I know this isn’t because people think Mikel was “only” a dog. This is what happens when someone dies. You’re allowed to mourn for a few days but that’s it.
The earth keeps turning. Life, as they say, goes on. I remember this is how it
was when my husband died. I remember how hurt and angry I felt.
I am still comforted by Mikel’s psychic presence, but it’s his physical presence that I miss, and mourn, and need. I need my dear little dog, and I wake up each morning, missing him. I will never hold him again. His dear little tongue will never cover my face with kisses. All of that is over, finished.
I am wretched.
In addition to my own prayers I’ve arranged for weekly prayers to be said for Mikel at a local Buddhist center. This will continue for seven weeks.
It’s called phowa, a practice meant to guide the deceased towards a good rebirth.
Maybe you’re thinking that my knowing Mikel is already on his way back to me should be comforting me. It isn’t. Although I know it, I don’t believe it.
How can I believe it? Other people don’t believe it. Other people think I’ve totally lost it. Maybe they’re right. I’m a mess.
Jeannie joins the chorus of well-meaning people who think I should begin to consider bringing another dog into my life. She offers to go with me to a pet shop or to see a breeder and look at puppies or even visit the pound, if I want to rescue a dog. “Maybe you’re right,” Jeannie says. “Maybe Mikel is coming back to you. Maybe he’s already back, waiting for you to come and get him and bring him home. Shouldn’t you be trying to find him?”
“Not yet,” I told her. “He isn’t in a pet shop, or a shelter. He’s an embryo, growing in his mother’s womb with his brothers and sisters. I have to wait for him to be born. Probably, it won’t be until the beginning of August.”
“But that’s nearly two months from now! You can’t go on like this for another two months! Gail, you’re like me. We’re dog people. You need a new dog in your life.”
What could I say?
I did need a new dog in my life, the same way many widows need a new husband. Speaking as someone who has suffered both kinds of loss, I think they’re really not all that different. You love your husband, and you love the life you share together. Suddenly, that life is gone. When the first shock of grief wears off, you realize this, and it can be devastating. It’s not just your husband that’s gone. The entire structure and underpinning of your life is gone as well. I suspect this is why many widows and widowers remarry so quickly. When author Joyce Carol Oates lost her husband, she wrote a book about what it was like to be widowed, but by the time it was published she had already remarried.
Sharing your life with a dog involves the same sort of reciprocal and emotionally satisfying interactions that characterize human relationships.
Best Friends Animal Society Publications and Creative Director Elissa Jones writes of life after adopting her “perfect” dog Dulcinea. “I no longer needed to hit the gym for what I considered boring forms of cardio exercise. With
Dulcie by my side I took sometimes four walks a day. These walks became a kind of meditation for me, a time when I communed with nature, with Dulcie and with my own thoughts. I found laughter in the very single-minded focus that a dog gives when she wants you to throw the ball, pick up the leash or do just about anything. And perhaps most surprising of all to me, I found a whole new group of friends on a visit to the park in my neighborhood. There, a met a friendly bunch who gathered in a remote corner of the park every night at 5:30. The only thing we had in common was that we all brought with us at least one dog. Talking with people who didn’t necessarily share my political beliefs or my alma mater and who didn’t even know what I did for a living – but who did share that powerful love of a pet – was a revelation. In those evenings at the park, I found a kind of balance I didn’t even know I’d been missing.”