Today, a small spaniel crossed from this world.
We called her Annie, but the universe knows her as Love.
We are called to bear witness suffering, and we are likewise called to alleviate suffering whenever we can, however we can. This has always been her lesson, and she continues to teach it even in death. Saying goodbye to her is one of the hardest things I have ever done, she knew that. Her body was worn out, sick and wracked with pain. We needed to release each other, for we both have more work to do – work she must continue from above, beyond, and through us.
She knew deeply about hard goodbyes, she knew about cruel abandonments – she was a dog of 9-11. And she was my friend. Sister to my son, daughter to my husband, four footed grandpuppy and a registered ‘therapy’ dog who participated in Animal Assisted Activities, Animal Assisted Education, Animal Assisted/Facilitated Therapies and Animal Assisted Crisis Response. But she never cared about labels; she loved everyone, everywhere, anytime. Her ‘alert’ was to go up to someone, stand sideways (technically it’s called splitting behavior – sometimes placing a paw on their foot) and look at me with a big open mouth smile and then turn that smile to the person. Her alerts made you feel present in the moment immediately.
I do not believe that dogs provide or give unconditional love, but I do believe that they provide us with access to feeling unconditionally loved. She did that daily.
My heart is broken open into millions of pieces, but it is not shattered. For I know each piece is surrounded by love. I am so thankful and honored to have been her student even as I was her trainer, to have been her handler even as she was my partner. But most of all, I am grateful to have been her friend.