So I just LOVE dogs of all shapes, sizes, energy levels and random bits of quirkiness that makes them “THEM!” But I must admit … I have a super special place in my heart for what some refer to as “heart dogs.” Many think you only have one in a lifetime and for some I believe that that’s true! I have had the amazing good fortune to have had several in my life thus far. The broad tapestry of my life has had many ups and downs, spills and stains and tears, but through it all, these amazing beings have been there binding it all together along side me. Sometimes, quite honestly , they have lead the way thru the dark places by being literal examples of how to embody joy, lightness and being in the present moment. They stood by me thru thick and thin and never needed words to express their unconditional love, acceptance and wisdom. Here are a few of their stories … in brief …
My first dog was Schnapy and he was a saint of a standard dachshund!!! That dog let me dress him up in doll clothes, play “nurse” and allowed me to bandage up his make believe injuries. We had endless “tea parties” in any number of forts I made from cardboard boxes, blankets and in closets.
He’d spend hours listening to me with rapt attention and on those nights when I felt afraid, he’d let me curl up beside him in his wicker dog bed and helped to keep the “monsters” at bay. He lived to be 17 years old! He was truly a saint and the best friend any child could grow up with!
My first “heart” dog of my own choosing was Harley and she was an amazing and loving yellow Labrador that went everywhere with me in my young adult life. She was camping and hiking buddy extraordinaire, the grand protector, consummate kayaking companion, and ultimate confidante. In her senior years she helped both raise my 2- and 4-legged “other kids” with utmost love and patience. She not only listened to my secrets, but countless bedtime stories as well! She was an incredibly gifted matriarch, though she never had puppies of her own, and kids and pups of all shapes and sizes gravitated to her. In her senior years she oversaw the farm from her perch on the back deck and like Lassie alerting about Timmy in the well … ran to get my next door neighbor when my horse Zooey was choking on some hay and literally saved the day!!! She was such a gift and my heart broke when she said goodbye.
Phoenix was my next “heart” dog and Harley left me in good hands once she had established that Phoenix indeed was the empath and soulmate that I needed for the next chapter of my life. It truly was as if one day, when Phoenix was about 5 months old, that Harley decided Phoenix had passed the muster and that Harley was willing to pass the torch … and pass on to the next realm.
Phoenix saw me through many life hurdles and changes … divorce … moves … ending and starting new businesses … relationships … loss … birth … love … a major car accident and subsequent journey thru Traumatic Brain Injury … healing … and so much more.
She was an incredible empath to me and so many others … especially memory care patients, their families and the staff caring for them. In her senior days this truly became her calling and it was remarkable to witness the way she could bring these people into the present … as well as evoke memories long lost in some parts of their minds … and bring them out into the forefront. It was a gift and miracle to witness.
She left pawprints on the hearts of so many lives,most indelibly my own.
Most recently there was Pearl. Love and bubbles and effervescence embodied. To the VERY end she was a greeter, the “hostess with the mostess” and just and all around LOVE!! Pearlie’s gift was children … human or 4-legged! She spent years as a therapy dog in the elementary schools and even “graduated” with one of her kiddos and moved on with him to the junior high as her assistance made such an impact for him! Kids literally lined up at events to spend a little time with her and her love and unconditional acceptance was truly her gift that she shared freely and with unwavering strength.
Pearl seriously took her “job” as an empath to extremes … one time I took a bad fall and knocked my neck and spine out of alignment. Serendipitously BOTH Pearl and I had separate appointments with our respective chiropractors the following day. Mine went first and as he adjusted me, he remarked about what and where was “out of whack.” Feeling much better … I proceeded to take Pearlie to her appointment later that afternoon. As her Dr. was going over her, there again were remarks about the unusual places that she was “out” … not the norm for her. I thought about how the night before, shortly after my fall and when I was in the most pain, I’d curled up into a ball on my side in bed. Pearl had curled up next to me with her back pressed markedly up against mine, the heat coming off her little body through the covers between us. I asked Dr. Leslie exactly which places were “out” and vertebrae for vertebrae they were in the exact same places that I’d knocked out of whack in myself!! That’s taking empathy to an extreme and from that moment forward I knew I had to be incredibly mindful of how much she was “taking on” from myself and others. What an incredible teacher and sensitive being.
My current “heart” dogs are Ursa and Malaika … VERY different little souls but each with such intuition and joy in their hearts for life. I am grateful for them and the lessons they have to offer as we journey through life together ….
In the comments below … I’d LOVE to hear about your “heart” dogs!! Feel free to share a pic as well!!