I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Our furry friends

I had a synchronicity of sorts this morning, when I started reading the posts my blogging friends have put on their sites since I last visited. One of the nice things about Google Reader is that I can choose to peruse them quickly or visit the site to leave a comment and see how the post is laid out on the page. My friend Star has a post this morning about a ginger cat of hers, Jasper, who has gone over the Rainbow Bridge. And then the very next post that came up in the Reader was from Judy titled "All Our Pawsome Friends" that informed me about a worldwide moment of silent meditation to remember our furry friends, those here and those who have gone before us. It is scheduled for 3:00pm (Pacific Time) today, and Judy's link gives more information if you want to learn more.

It was my sister and brother-in-law Pete who first introduced me to the concept of the Rainbow Bridge, which is a comforting myth about where our beloved animals go when they die, and how we will all be reunited when we ourselves pass over. Since the Christian Church, especially the Catholic Church, doesn't believe that animals have souls and therefore are gone forever when they die, I think this is a fine remedy to that cruel belief. If love is what life is all about, where is there more perfect love? How can it be gone forever?

Of course we won't ever know the answer to that in this lifetime, but the synchronicity got me to thinking about animals in my life who have been particularly special to me. When I was young, in my early teens, we had a dog I loved immoderately. He was a stray that adopted my parents on a golf course in Puerto Rico. A small terrier mix, we named him Mulligan and he was with our family for many years. One of my favorite memories of my time with him was blackberry picking in Georgia. The woods around our house had lots of wild berries, but also lots of snakes. Mulligan would run ahead looking to scare away any snakes that might threaten me.

He was also one of the smartest dogs I've ever known. Mulligan was as much a family member as any of us, and I can still picture him in my mind. I don't have any pictures of him, but if my sister reads this and sends me one, I'll put it in here. He lived with us in Puerto Rico, California, Texas, and Georgia. His selfless love for each one of us still feels present in my heart. He taught me that you don't have to hold onto grudges or see any family member with anything but love.
Mulligan with my leg on left (thanks, Pete!)
I don't have any pets at this time of my life. When I started skydiving, that passion consumed me completely, and gave me so many options to travel, that it wouldn't have been fair to anyone to have a pet. In my thirties and forties I almost always had a cat, and my dearest one was Fopaw, an all-black cat that was a talker (must have had some Siamese in her). She was long gone by the time I started skydiving. Then I married Smart Guy, who has never lived in a home with a pet, and my job at work changed so that I was traveling a great deal, so I haven't had a cat in twenty years. There is a feral cat who hangs out in our neighborhood here, but I discourage his visits, since I am now feeding the wild birds who come to my porch. It satisfies me a great deal, and we both appreciate watching the bird population who have found us.

Just now, thinking about the birds, I stopped writing while I checked the feeders on the front porch, as the sun is now just beginning to come up. With the time change, the sun arises around 7:15am and sets around 4:30pm, a nine-hour day on its way down to seven hours before we reach the solstice in late December. The birds find a place to roost about a half-hour before the sun goes down and come to breakfast just before sunrise. The juncos are the first to arrive, then the chickadees, sparrows, nuthatches and goldfinch. The woodpeckers and flickers have no schedule I've been able to figure out; they show up to delight me at various times of the day. And our juvenile hawk, who sees my front porch as part of his territory, comes around at least once a day. When he shows up, the porch grows suddenly quiet and empty of other birds. Sometimes he lands on the railing and usually before I can get my camera aimed at him, he's gone. A magnificent bird.

My life has been immensely enriched by all of the furry (and feathered) friends I have known over the years. I think of how many people all over the world who feel the same way, and I give thanks for the opportunity to have known them and to have shared my life with myriad incarnations of love.


Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

Wow, a hawk! I just posted last night about all the birds who have found us, and who seemed especially eager to dine yesterday because of the sudden arrival of heavy snow, which has buried many of the natural food sources.

I didn't know about Rainbow Bridge, but I'll check it out. Our cat will cross that bridge sooner rather than later, and it might be a nice way to handle it with the grandkids.

Have a lovely Sunday, DJan.

Jo said...

I'm going to check out the Rainbow Bridge.

When I was a teenager, we had a Scotty dog named Maggie. My mother adored Maggie. When Maggie died, my mother had a recurring dream for years afterwards that Maggie was waiting for her at the top of a grassy hill. My mother had that dream many, many times.

When my mother died, we buried her in cemetery just outside of Victoria, next to a lovely forest. As we were driving away from my mother's final resting place, I turned and looked out the back window of the car. I realized then that my mother's grave was at the top of a grassy hill, and it was exactly as my mother had described in her dreams. I could almost see Maggie waiting for her there.

Animals do indeed have souls.

Gigi said...

We had very few pets when I was young - mainly because I was terrified of dogs. As a result, I'm not really a "pet" person, but I understand the love that one has for their animals. I love the name of that cat! Very clever!

Grandmother Mary said...

I'm forever grateful for the love and companionship given to my husband and me by our 2 Alaskan Malamutes over 14 years. They enriched our lives and became family members. And, yes, they had great souls.

Donna B. said...

Hi DJan...you have inspired me with your post today. I will have to check out Star and Judy's blogs as well as the Rainbow Bridge. The name alone conjurs up such a happy, peaceful image...I feel a post itching to spring forth from my fingers...

gigi-hawaii said...

Hi Jan,

Thanks for adding ID/URL and ANONYMOUS to the profiles. Due to a temporary glitch on blogspot, I can post comments only to those 2 options right now.

Anyway, I have had pets off and on throughout my life, starting with fish and turtles, then 3 chickens, then a dog, then 2 parakeets, and then cats. Presently, I have a 5 yr old male cat that we adore. He is kept outdoors due to my allergies.

So, I know where you are coming from! Yes, pets belong in the hereafter. People who have experienced near death report seeing their pets. They describe their experience quite beautifully when they come back to life.

There is hope!

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Wonderful post. Animals certainly have souls. Religions that pronounce animals as soul-less, are actually saying that man is the most powerful entity on the planet and that gives him the right to do what he wants to animals.l It's justification of a perverted sort!

Nancy said...

Lovely post. I have had many furry friends in my lifetime. We are blessed with our empty nest dog, Lucy, right now. She's an athlete, and it is so much fun to throw her new toy which resembles a boomerang, but acts like a frisbee. She jumps high and twists in mid air, catching it and running back to drop it at my feet. Over and over and over.

Tiff said...

I liked this post. And as a Bible believing Christian, I personally do believe that animals go to heaven. Revelation refers to horses riding out of heaven, and I kind of figure, if there are horses there, why not dogs and cats? God loves all animals and cares for them, so just because the Bible does not specifically say they have souls, doesn't mean it's not true. That's just my opinion, though!

#1Nana said...

After many years with pets and children, our children grew up and their pets died and we are now petless. Lately I've been yearning for a pet, but don't really want the restriction to my plans for travel. But a Siamese cat on my lap in front of the fire in the winter...sounds pretty good doesn't it?

Murr Brewster said...

I read this right after writing a post about my old departed cat. I've never heard of the Rainbow Bridge, but I think I'll settle for indulging in a heart-twinge every now and then. My cats and one old terrier may have souls, but I'm not so sure about myself, so I'm not going to bank on a reunion. I'm betting the universe will forgive me.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Well if dogs and cats don't go to heaven then in my opinion it should not be called heaven. I will have a whole group of dogs and cats there in heaven ..I can hardly wait to see them.
Your Mulligan was a real cutie and any dog that chases snakes is #1 in my book.
You can dote on your birds and enjoy their antics..feathered friends are good too:)

PeterDeMan said...

You sister has long talked about Mulligan. Am glad I had an archived photo to send.

CiCi said...

I have had a pet most of the time and the past three years have learned how to appreciate other animals without having a personal pet. One of the first things hubby and I did here at the new place was set up places to feed the birds and other critters. There are black squirrels and grey squirrels and rabbits here so far. I like your love of nature and your beautiful spirit.

Whitney Lee said...

This is lovely. I like the idea of the Rainbow Bridge. I am so in love with our dog, Cody, and get sad at the thought of his eventual demise. He is like our first child. I have always had cats; Cody is my first dog. I let go of my cats during my first pregnancy as I was afraid of the risks. My husband says we won't have any more pets after Cody because he doesn't think he can handle the heartbreak again. My daughter is such an animal lover, though, that I think we'll have trouble being an animal free home.

Linda Myers said...

My sister had a cat named Pud who died about seven years ago. When my own Muffin followed four years ago, I opened the front door to a knock and found a floral delivery. The card said, "Linda, don't grieve for Muffin as she passed over the Rainbow Bridge. I caught her on the other side. Love, Pud".

Stella Jones said...

Mulligan looks like a great friend. There is nothing and no-one more loyal than a dog. I don't have a dog at the moment. I want one badly but I need to be in one place long enough to take care of it. I have had dogs in the past and loved them all and miss them sorely now but as you say, you do the best you can with what you have be it birds or cats or dogs.
Check out my Facebook Page for a great video of a little humming bird. I first saw it on Catswhiskers. It made my day so happy when I saw it.
Blessings, Star