A Naked Lady

It’s natural to assume that the grief associated with pet loss is a purely post-mortem event.  Not true.  For many, the grieving process begins the minute they receive a serious or scary diagnosis, even if the animal has the potential to live for another year or two.  This is why I established and continue to facilitate a Client Support Group within my community.  Not only are people who have lost their pets welcome, so too are those struggling emotionally while caring for a sick four-legged family member.  The way participants support one another is fabulous- there’s typically a healthy mixture of smiles and tears as they talk about their beloved animals. 

From time to time, someone recounts an event (I like to refer to them as little taps on the shoulder) that let them know that they’ve been “paid a visit” by their deceased pet.  Last week Stephanie told just such a story.  A few weeks after relocating from Seattle to northern California, her beloved Bear, a huge and gentle Labrador mix, became profoundly ill with symptoms referable to cancer within the pelvic canal.  With a heavy heart, Stephanie opted for euthanasia after which she fled back to Seattle to receive the emotional support she needed from family and friends.  Upon returning to her new California home a week later, a delightful surprise awaited her.  Right at the spot where Bear urinated first thing every morning appeared a two-foot tall, solitary, pink flower on a thick sturdy stalk- one we affectionately refer to in these parts as a “Naked Lady” (Amaryllis belladonna).  With a smile on her face and tears streaming down her cheeks, Stephanie described her encounter with this crazy looking pink plant, the likes of which she’d never seen before.  She knew, in her heart of hearts, that it was a sign from her beloved Bear that he was okay.  And I believe her!

Have you ever been “paid a visit” or received a “gentle nudge” from a beloved pet that has passed away?  Please, do tell.

Now, here’s wishing you and your four-legged best friend abundant good health!

Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association 2009 Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, 2009 Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, 2009 Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life

Website: http://www.speakingforspot.com
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook    

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, or your favorite online book seller.

Be Sociable, Share!

11 Comments on “A Naked Lady

  1. Gunner was 14 years old the day I was moving him away from the front of the BBQ with the side my leg so I could open the lid and put food on to grill. He fell over on his side, legs grasping for the ground and the vacant look of a senile old man in his hazy eyes. I knelt down to comfort him as he gasped in fear. He didn’t know what had happened. I helped him up and knew his time was done. I had promised him 13 1/2 years ago I would never let him suffer.

    At the animal hosptial we were the only ones there as planned by our vet. He knew our relationship was deep and had warned 6 years earlier that if the day ever came to put Gunner down, that he would be out of town. Gunner stumbled and collapsed in the parking lot, my 12 year old son helped me pick up the 75 lb lanky Lab and we walked him in. The vet helped Gunner to the table, looked at his color, listened to his heart and said that Gunner was about to have a major event, his time was over.

    The drugs were administered, Gunners cloudy eyes closed, his breathing slowed. The vet put a box of tissues on the table “I don’t need them” I said. Gunner expelled one big sigh. ” He sounds relieved, “My son said”. “Yes, he is” . The vet pulled out a tissue and left the room.

    7 1/2 years later I started Alaska Dog News and dedicted the first issue to Gunner. Writing the “in memory” had me in my first tears of his loss and with every reading since, he is there. I see Gunner in the face of every yellow lab pup, every young lab working with gusto to find a bird, and every old graying dog that I photograph in Alaska Dog News. He is always with me in the photos of other dogs, when my current dogs push up against me on the couch, and when my 8yr old Lab Lucy retrieves with the same joy.

  2. Kody my Bichon who passed away from an anesthesia overdose at age 12. His death tore me to shreds. But … Kody is not far from me ever. Kody hated the whole house vacuum. He would push the hose so that it would disengage to turn it off when he had enough. It was a constant battle trying to vacuum with him around. For about 2 weeks after his death, I would vacuum with no incident, then voila` the hose would disengage randomly.
    I started saying “Hey kody, I love you too” and the vac would re start. So, my husband hired the company to come out and “fix” the issue. There were here 3 times… they can find no issue. I am happy Kody is around. I love him still with all my heart. The vac shuts off and re starts many many times. :)))

  3. On August 14th, 2010 our precious little pomeranian, Gretel passed away in my arms. She fought for her life for almost 1 year. She was diagnosed with IMTCP. The evening before she passed away I took her out doors for her potty break. When opening the door to our sunroom a butterfly entered the room and immediately turned to follow us out doors. It landed in the grass only 3 feet from Gretel. She sat and watched as it spent a few moments fluttering about and landing again near her. This year we had not seen any butterflies, perhaps because of the severe heat here in Georgia. The day after she left us we began to see so many small yellow butterflies and noticed that there was one rather large one with colors identical to her own hair. This butterfly follows us around our 1 acre yard every day and the smaller ones flutter around us as we work every morning in the flower beds. I feel Gretel has come back to us in this beautiful form and brought her friends. She is happy to show off the pretty yard she had when on this earth and to let us know that she is happy and has so many friends. Miss you Gretel, MOMMY & Daddy

  4. Ezzie was a grey farm kitten who entered my life many years ago

    Late in Ezzie’s fifteenth and last summer, she began to lose weight unril she weighed only four pounds. She was dying of a combination of cancer, and failed kidneys. She slowly became dead.

    On her last evening, her breathing became faint, almost inaudible. She twitched and moaned one last time. That was it. When I listened, there was no more heartbeat; the tiny flutter was erased. And her eyes. Eyes that had shone like bright green lights were dull gray. Like a TV set switched off.

    I carried her to the end of the garden. I covered her with earth and placed a gray slate marker on the disturbed ground.

    The next morning, after a sleepless night, I stood in the kitchen and looked to where she lay. It was just dawn with the sun on the horizon. The whole area around the spot was dark except her slab of slate. Somehow, her grave gathered the rising sun, reflecting the orange color skyward. A brilliant light shone from the ground. From Ezzie’s ground.

    It was as though her little soul was ascending to whatever cat heaven these little furry creatures enjoy after they leave us behind.

  5. I was out of the country when my \forever dog\ Alice finally succumbed to chronic kidney disease and had to be euthanized. I hated myself for going on the trip, even though she was somewhat stable when I had left. Months later our local humane society gave a workshop on pet communication. During the second half of the workshop, I persuaded the instructor to lead me through the process of making contact with Alice. Although she protested, saying it likely was not possible, she agreed to it. Well, Alice shouted out load and clear to me! After months of my guilt and tears, my sweet girl’s words to me were, \GET OVER IT!\ That’s my Alice. From time to time, I do have dreams of holding her in my arms. Mind you, I never remember my dreams except for those about dear Alice.

  6. I was actually feeling kind of sad that I hadnt seen a sign from my cat that died, but then something happened. Right after he died, a snake came onto my patio and was face to face with my cat (the brother of the cat that died). I shooed the snake out and didnt think much about it. Then on the anniversary date of my cats death, 1 year later, a little slinky black snake showed up on my patio – a harmless snake. I knew it was Ink, my cat, because I used to call him slinky inky and then I remembered the snake that came right after he died and paid a visit to his brother.

  7. In February 2008 I lost my heart dog Gretl, a wonderful Bernese Mountain Dog. She was an awesome therapy dog and worked with thousands of children during her 8 years in the SHARE program. The school reading programs where kids read to a dog were among our favorites. Gretl was born on November 17th – a day we celebrated each year for 8 years. It was last November 17th that I laid down in bed to read my newly arrived BARK Magazine. I was immediately drawn to an article “Wonder Dogs – New jobs for dogs tap into their amazing talents” – a great article highlighting the many ways in which dogs provide service. And there on a full page photo spread of these “wonder dogs” was a picture of Gretl reading with a young girl. It was a picture I had taken several years before and had been provided to the author by the Marin Humane Society. It was totally unexpected and I am sure it was a sign from her that her spirit is still very much alive and with me.

  8. As an animal rescuer, we recieved in a pregnant mother. Since we had no space for her, I took her into my home and she gave birth the next night, right in my room. I was there for the birth and cared for her 6 beautiful babies for 13 weeks before one died. My mother had died only 3 months previously, and my favorite niece had a dream one night that her Grandma (my mother) visited her. In the dream, she told my niece that she was with a happy young puppy, solid brown in color. How I knew this was real was that my niece knew nothing of the puppies, and certainly nothing of the solid brown one who died, but also the dream came to her the night little Vermont died. I was incredibly grateful for the message from my mother, the support to help me get through the loss of such a happy darling.

  9. In researching my book Angel Pawprints, which is an anthology of pet memorials, I came across several accounts of visits or signs from deceased pets in writings dating back to the 1800s. I’ve had two dream-like experiences in which I felt I was receiving a message from a deceased pet. In one, I dozed off on a red-eye flight and was wakened by a voice that said, “They are okay. They are being taken care of.” This was after I lost two dogs within weeks of each other to cancer. I sat up, startled, and looked around to see if I had overheard someone talking, but all the passengers around me were asleep. The next morning, walking on the beach, I saw a dog chasing sticks into the waves. It was so joyous and again I felt it was a message and the beginning of my healing from the fog of grief. Another message came the day after I lost a beloved Springer, Chester. He died at home, in his sleep. Just a few weeks before we had lost his companion, another Springer named Dixie. In my dream I saw Dixie come padding into the bedroom and lead Chester away. I have found these dream messages very comforting. Thanks for bringing up this topic.
    Laurel, celebrating the love of dogs at http://laurelhuntbooks.com

  10. In 2005 I had moved to Georgia along with my shepherd-husky mix, Skater. Skater was 14 at the time and had been healthy all his life, but at that age, was naturally slowing down.
    I found a good vet in town and when I took Skater in for a check-up, they told me he had an incurable form of cancer.
    One day Skater got up all right, but seemed to have a hard time with his balance Later that day, he definitely could not maintain his balance and became very disoriented. I was heartbroken but not unprepared when I drove him to the vet for the last time, where they let me sit with him in a small private room before, during and after they euthanized him.
    When I returned to my sister’s house, where we were living, his footprints were all around in the red clay outside our door and I thought, “That’s all I have left of Skater and as soon as the rain comes, that will be gone too.”
    I had had Skater cremated and a week later (after the rain) a package came from the vet’s office. In it was a copy of the Rainbow Bridge story (which I had never seen before) and in the corner of the page they had imprinted an image of Skater’s footprint.
    It was such a gift. I still cry when I tell that story to anyone.

  11. I know my Cali visits me from time to time. I also know that she has left instructions for the cats to carry on her duties. Cali used to lay down in the bathroom when I took a shower. After her passing, it was hard to take a shower because I knew that I would be alone for the first time in many years. Lo and behold, my cat has taken up the job and stays with me the whole time; she had never shown an interest in this prior to my Cali’s passing. Another cat has taken over Cali’s spot on the couch but only when I am on it. They have helped me so much and I don’t know what I would do without them, it was such a relief to look over to spots where Cali used to be and not just see an empty space.