You’ve set your intention. You’ve opened your mind to the idea that your dog can reincarnate. You’re learning how to sit quietly, how to listen.
These are all good, positive things. You’re off to a good start.
Have you told anyone what you’re doing? Maybe not, perhaps because you’re worried about what they’ll think. That’s okay. Don’t talk about it until it feels right to talk about it. You certainly don’t want to get into an argument about reincarnation. Arguing creates negative energy. And in any case, it is impossible to argue about a belief.
So instead of talking about it, write about it. Start a journal. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, although it does need to be more than just a few sheets of paper, because your journal is a a concrete symbol of your intent. A spiral bound notebook will do, although you might want to paste a photograph of your dog on the cover, or decorate it in some other, special way.
What should you write? Begin by picturing your dog in your mind’s eye. Remember all the things that made him special, all the good times you had together, all the reasons why you love him. These are the things you need to write about. Writing about them sends positive energy into the universe.
Next, try to imagine how you’ll feel when your dog comes back to you. Try
to visualize it. Remember, visualization is not prayer. You are not asking God for anything. You are simply imagining what it will be like to be reunited with your dog, and writing it down. Be positive. Start each sentence with words like, When my dog comes back to me ….
Another day, try writing to your dog the way you’d write a letter. Tell him what’s happening. Is it a good day for a walk? Did you cook steak last night, and think about how much he’d like the bone?
You can also use these pages to record your feelings. Describe the thoughts that go through your mind as you sit and remember your dog. Be honest, but try to be positive, too. Remember that every thought you think and every word you write sends a little pulse of energy into the universe. You want that energy to be good energy.
Try to write something every day, even if it is only a sentence or two. If writing doesn’t come easily to you, a sentence or two is enough. Don’t force it. What matters isn’t the number of words you write, but the feeling with which you write them.
Maybe you’ll have a set time for writing, or maybe you’ll write whenever the spirit moves you. But as time passes, you’ll probably find yourself writing more and more. This is not anything like what used to be called “automatic writing” but automatic writing sometimes happens. When you read over what you’ve written, pay attention to writing that doesn’t seem to look like yours – those passages may be important.
Pay attention to your thoughts, too. Especially pay attention to fleeting, odd thoughts. These can come at any time. You may suddenly “see” your dog, or think you hear him bark. This isn’t just your imagination, or wishful thinking. It is a tiny morsel of psychic truth. Acknowledge it and accept it, without worrying about what it means.
You are trying to help your dog come back to you, in this life. Many people just like you have been reunited with dogs and other animal companions, so what you’re attempting is not hopeless, or impossible. On the other hand, you are not conducting an experiment. You’re not trying to prove anything. You don’t need to prove anything. This is not about proof. This is about belief.
Accept what comes. Be positive, and have faith in yourself and in what you’re doing. The Dalai Lama writes: “Do not give up. If you are pessimistic from the beginning, you cannot possibly succeed. If you are hopeful and determined, you will always find some measure of success. Winning the gold medal does not matter. You will have tried your best.”
So don’t be impatient with yourself or with the process. You may get results immediately. Or it may take longer. It takes many drops of water to fill a bucket, and many buckets full of water to fill an ocean. Dr. Martin
Luther King, Jr. said: “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
I n the beginning, grief numbs you. You know what has happened. You know you’ve suffered a terrible loss. But you keep going, almost as if you’re on automatic pilot, talking to people, brushing your teeth, doing what needs to be done. This numbness lasts for several days, but it wears off.
And that’s when it hits you, a tsunami of anguish and unbearable pain. And nothing helps. Absolutely nothing.
When his dog Buster died, English writer, broadcaster and former
Labour deputy leader Lord Hattersley wrote. “I sat in the first floor room in which I work, watching my neighbors go about their lives, amazed and furious that they were behaving as if it was a normal day. Stop all the clocks.
Buster was dead.”
That’s how I feel. Stop all the clocks. Bao is dead.
There are people who say the death of an animal is less traumatic than the death of a human being. But love is love, and when you lose what you love more than anything else in the world, that loss is devastating. Many of us love animals more than we love people. Kathy Rudy, who teaches ethics at
Duke University writes, “It would not be an overstatement to say that most of the important and successful relationships I’ve had in my life have been with nonhuman animals.”
And dogs are special. Their relationship with us is unique. Dogs are the only animals that look directly into our eyes, the way we look into the eyes of one another. Dogs are also the only animals who can live with human beings without being tamed by them, and yet continue to breed with their own kind. DNA evidence indicates dogs separated from wolves and became part of our human pack about 100,000 years ago. They’ve been beside us ever since. Did human beings domesticate dogs? Or did dogs domesticate human beings?
According to the latest anthropological studies, this is a moot question. The evidence suggests we co-evolved.
What we do know is that dogs have been with us from the start, long
before we settled down in caves, even before the last Ice Age. Throughout that long ordeal of cold and darkness, dogs and humans huddled together for warmth while the mammoth, the giant sloth, the dire wolf, the saber-toothed tiger and hundreds of other species perished in the unforgiving cold. And when the great sheets of ice finally began to recede, we were still there, and we were still together. Perhaps neither humans nor dogs would have made it alone. But we did make it. We survived, and so did our dogs.
“Until one has loved an animal,” writes Anatole France, “a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”
Condolence cards begin to arrive, containing thoughtful and beautiful words of consolation. I still treasure those cards, and feel immense gratitude towards all the people who went to the trouble to find just the right sentiment.
I’m equally grateful to those who made donations to animal charities in Bao’s memory.
Jeannie makes a point of talking to me every day, but remains utterly at a loss as to what she can say or do to make me feel better. It isn’t that she doesn’t understand. Jeannie had been through this heartbreaking loss herself.
One of her dogs was poisoned and died as she raced through the night to find a veterinarian. And Jeannie loved her Saber as much as I loved Bao. Jeannie loves all her dogs. But Jeannie is a positive, active person and sitting around brooding isn’t her thing. When there’s a problem, Jeannie deals with it. When something is broken, she fixes it. When she loses a dog, she buries it in a little cemetery behind her house and goes out and gets another one. That’s what she thinks I should do, too. Not right away. But when I’m ready.
I’m not ready. Besides, I don’t want another dog. I want Bao. And he’s coming back to me. He’s already on his way.
Jeannie doesn’t argue the point, even though we both know she doesn’t believe in reincarnation. We agree to disagree, and leave it at that. The important thing is that she’s here for me.
One morning she starts telling me about one of her friends at the gym who’s a psychologist and does grief counseling. A really nice woman,
Jeannie says. Younger than us, but very intelligent, very caring. Let me give you her number. Maybe you can go and talk to her, just to see if it makes you feel any better.
I’d had counseling after Rollyn died, and I know from experience that it sometimes helps, just having someone to talk to. But the whole idea of grief counseling is to persuade you to accept your loss and move forward, and that’s the problem. I don’t accept my loss. Bao’s psychic presence is precious to me, and it’s all I’ve got. I don’t want to let go of it.
All my life, I’ve been reading accounts of other people’s spiritual and psychic experiences. All my life, I’ve wished that something like that would happen to me. Now it has. It may not be the spiritual experience I would have chosen, but that now it has finally come, I want to embrace it. I certainly don’t want to be talked out of it by some psychologist.
“But look at you! You’re so miserable! It breaks my heart to see you like this. If you don’t want to talk to a psychologist, fine. What about a support group? Aren’t there support groups for people when their dog dies?”
Pet loss support groups, they’re called. But their goal is the same as grief counseling – to help you work through the grief process and reach acceptance. If there’s a support group for people who know their dog is going to reincarnate, I’ll join it in a heartbeat. But there isn’t any such group. Or if there is, I can’t find it.
Driving back from Colorado several days earlier, I had not questioned my intuition. I’d listened – not with my ears, but with every cell of my being – and accepted what came to me. Yielding to the universe, I became part of the universe. But now that I am out of the hermetically sealed silence of my car and back in what we call the real world, those moments of clarity are becoming more difficult to sustain. It is almost like waking up from a dream.
I have to go out and buy food. I have to pay the bills. I have to wash the dishes, and my clothes. I have to get the car serviced. I have to answer the telephone. It feels as if I’m losing the ability to listen. I am beginning to question my feelings, and worse, to doubt them.
I still believe Bao is going to reincarnate. His psychic presence remains very strong, especially when I first wake up in the morning. During those early morning moments, feeling him close to me, I am comforted. But the feeling doesn’t last. And in any case, it’s not the same as having him here, beside me.
As the day wears on, the hours grow longer. There is nothing I need to do, nobody who needs me. I sit in my condo, drink red wine and cry. Life without Bao is unthinkable, and unbearable. Every room is full of memories.
We were always together, we always went everywhere together. How am I meant to do this? How can I possibly live without him?
I am in a downward spiral and one hot, bright afternoon five days after
Bao’s death, I hit bottom. Nothing matters. It suddenly all seems so crazy, so utterly hopeless. When I look into the bathroom mirror a heartbroken, halfcrazy, pathetic old woman stares back at me.
I can’t do this any more. If I had a gun, I’d shoot myself. If I had pills,
I’d take them. But I haven’t got a gun, or pills. I go into the living-room. My computer is open on the table. I sit down in front of it and type “dog reincarnation” into the search engine.