In 2010, I wrote a post welcoming a wonderful, most majestic and decidedly imperious member to my family. This is a different kind of post…
There’s been a lot of talk about moving to another country since this past November. Admit it: you’ve been looking at everything from Costa Rica to Iceland. But what if I told you there’s a country that will fulfill all your craziest expectations for great neighbors, moments of much hilarity and one great sorrow. Would you want to know more? Would you move there? I did in 2010.
There aren’t any Yelp reviews. It won’t show up on Google Earth. It’s everywhere and nowhere. Citizenship is easy. You don’t need a birth certificate, a driver’s license, a passport, a physical exam or a visa. No one is an illegal immigrant in this country. The only requirement is one thing: a dog. That’s right: a dog. You become a citizen of Dogland when you are adopted by a dog.
Welcome to Dogland.
Let’s not kid ourselves, you don’t pick a dog. That’s the ruse. We humans, so convinced of our superiority, lay open our need and into that wasteland steps the dog who has been on a mission to find you. This small puppy you’re smiling at, the old dog who’s seen worse days, the abandoned dog, the beaten and sad dog. Your dog has been looking for you. We don’t fool ourselves in Dogland.
Hearts. Heart dogs. I never knew there was such a thing. What did I know about anything in matters of the heart? People come and go, judge us, inform us, advise us, laugh at us and with us, and sometimes they even love us. But people are people and their love is definitely conditional. No matter what he or she tells you in the heat of the first passion of love or friendship, at some point you’re going to be asked to compromise a part of your spirit. But never with a dog. Never.
I used to think that angels wore pastels and sported glorious wings and had long golden hair and great singing voices. I figured God liked the Heavenly Host that way. But I’ve changed my mind. I think whoever looks out for us upstairs or over the Rainbow Bridge had a different idea in mind when it came time to find a few good friends to share eternity with.
People draw images of angels, everything from flying baby heads with wings to giant avenging angels with swords of fire. But we don’t get it. God does and that’s why we have dogs. I believe that dogs come to us from a different realm and return there at the end of their brief time helping us. We’re better for knowing them than we would ever have been without their love. Dogs are sent to us. We really are only drawn to them. They do the rest.
I’ve been lucky in my life to have had one of these angels come to spend a too brief time with me. I wasn’t prepared for this. I thought we would be a team forever. I didn’t realize she was here for just a blink in time to be my best friend, my confidante, the purveyor of calm listening and a tireless companion when I was ill. I hope she knew how much I loved her too. I don’t know why she chose me but I loved her from the moment I saw her covered with dirt in a muddy yard halfway across the state. I searched for her for nearly a year. Maybe all my life.
When it came time to send her back across the Rainbow Bridge two weeks ago my heart fell into blackness. She taught me a lot about growing old and enjoying the moment and not being afraid when it comes time to cross over the Bridge and rejoin her. And that’s what we’ll do: rejoin our heart dogs who have loved us. Pope Francis said so and I know he gets his information straight from Heaven.
I feel sorry for people who have never allowed themselves the joy and craziness and the pain of loss of a dog or cat or hamster or sheep or snake or any creature that opens them to a sense of wonder at a different perspective on life.
Please don’t delay. Don’t be so afraid of the end of the journey that you never take the first step.