My tribute to Pharaoh

Pharaoh has been my dearest companion every day for these last 12 years.

I’m choosing today to recognise what Pharaoh has meant to me since I took him in my arms, both literally and emotionally, in August, 2003.

Pharaoh, nine months old.
Pharaoh, nine months old.


The story of a great dog!

Pharaoh, as of yesterday afternoon!
Pharaoh, as of 25th March, 2013.

The biggest, single reward of having Pharaoh as my friend goes back quite a few years.  Back to when I was living in Devon, South-West England, and to the time when Jon Lavin and I used to spend hours talking together.  Pharaoh was always contentedly asleep in the same room as Jon and me.

It was Jon who introduced me to Dr. David Hawkins and his Map of Consciousness. It was also Jon, who one day when looking down at the sleeping Pharaoh, pointed out that Dr. Hawkins offered evidence that dogs are creatures of integrity with a ‘score’ on that Map of between 205 and 210. (Background is here.)

So this blog, Learning from Dogs, and me writing a book of the same name flow from that awareness of what dogs mean to us humans and what Pharaoh specifically means to me.  No, more than that!  As a result of that mix of Jon, Dr. David Hawkins, experiencing unconditional love from an animal living with me day-in, day-out, came a journey into myself.  From that journey came the self-awareness that allowed me truly to like who I was, to be openly loved by this dog of mine, and be able to love openly in return.  As is said: “You cannot love another until you love yourself.

Trying to pick out a single example of the bond that Pharaoh and I have had is practically impossible.  I have to rely on photographs to remind me of the thousands of times that a simple look or touch between Pharaoh and me ‘speaks’ to me in ways that words fail. Here’s an extract from my celebration of Pharaoh’s tenth birthday in June, 2013. It perfectly illustrates the friendship bond between us.


For many years I was a private pilot and in later days had the pleasure, the huge pleasure, of flying a Piper Super Cub, a group-owned aircraft based at Watchford Farm in South Devon.  The aircraft, a Piper PA-18-135 Super Cub, was originally supplied to the Dutch Air Force in 1954 and was permitted by the British CAA to carry her original military markings including her Dutch military registration, R-151, although there was a British registration, G-BIYR, ‘underneath’ the Dutch R-151.  (I wrote more fully about the history of the aircraft on Learning from Dogs back in August 2009.)

Piper Cub R151
Piper Cub R151

Anyway, every time I went to the airfield with Pharaoh he always tried to climb into the cockpit.  So one day, I decided to see if he would sit in the rear seat and be strapped in.  Pharaoh had absolutely no problem with that!

Come on Dad, let's get this thing off the ground!
Come on Dad, let’s get this thing off the ground!

My idea had been to fly a gentle circuit in the aircraft.  First, I did some taxying around the large grass airfield that is Watchford to see how Pharaoh reacted.  He was perfectly behaved.

But then I thought long and hard about taking Pharaoh for a flight.  In the Cub there is no autopilot so if Pharaoh struggled it would have been almost impossible to fly the aircraft and cope with Pharaoh.  So, in the end, I abandoned the idea of taking him for a flight.  The chances are that it would have been fine.  But if something had gone wrong, the outcome just didn’t bear thinking about.

So we ended up motoring for 30 minutes all around the airfield which, as the next picture shows, met with doggie approval.  The date was July 2006.

That was fun!
That was fun!


Moving on again.  This time to another flying experience.  To the day when Pharaoh and I flew out of London bound for Los Angeles and a new life with Jeannie and all her dogs (16 at that time) down in San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico.  The date: September 15th, 2008.  Just ten months after I had met Jean in Mexico and realised that this was the woman that I was destined to love! (Now you will understand why earlier on I described the Jon Lavin, Dr. Hawkins, Pharaoh mix as the biggest, single reward of having Pharaoh as my friend!)

There followed wonderful happy days for me and Pharaoh.  It was gorgeous to see how Pharaoh became so much more a dog, if that makes sense, from having his own mini-pack around him.  Those happy days taking us all forwards to Payson, AZ, where Jean and I were married, and then on to Merlin, Oregon arriving here in October, 2012.

Fr. Dan Tantimonaco with the newly weds!
Fr. Dan Tantimonaco with the newly weds!


Pharaoh 'married' to his dearest friends. December, 2013.
Pharaoh ‘married’ to his dearest friends in Oregon. December, 2013.


Perfect closeness. Pharaoh and Cleo with Hazel in the middle.  Taken yesterday.
Smelling the flowers! Pharaoh and Cleo with Hazel in the middle.

I could go on!  Hopefully, you get a sense, a very strong sense, of the magical journey that both Pharaoh and I have experienced since I first clasped him in my arms back in September, 2003.

Both Pharaoh and I are in the Autumn of our lives; he has just turned 12, I am now 70, and we both creak a little. But so what! Pharaoh has been my greatest inspiration of the power of unconditional love; of the need to smell the flowers in this short life of ours.

One very great animal! (March 25th, 2014)
One very great animal! (March 25th, 2014)

Thank you, my dear, dear friend!

Can’t close today’s tribute without adding one last photograph of this great dog; a photograph of Pharaoh greeting Cleo, back in 2012.

First meeting between Pharaoh and Cleo; April 7th, 2012.
First meeting between Pharaoh and Cleo; April 7th, 2012.

Nor can I close without including a quotation from the author, Suzanne Clothier:

“There is a cycle of love and death that shapes the lives of those who choose to travel in the company of animals. It is a cycle unlike any other. To those who have never lived through its turnings or walked its rocky path, our willingness to give our hearts with full knowledge that they will be broken seems incomprehensible. Only we know how small a price we pay for what we receive. Our grief, no matter how powerful it may be, is an insufficient measure of the joy we have been given.

Writing in his essay, “The Once Again Prince,” animal lover and gifted writer Irving Townsend summed it up:

We who choose to surround ourselves with lives even more temporary than our own, live within a fragile circle easily and often breached. Unable to accept its awful gaps, we still would live no other way. We cherish memory as the only certain immortality, never fully understanding the necessary plan. It is a fragile circle. But it goes round and round without end.”

17 thoughts on “My tribute to Pharaoh

  1. beautiful. I grew up with Boxers..and so I am very partial to the temperament of working dogs. On the cusp of getting another puppy after the passing of our Bichon..but there is something holding me back- can’t put my finger on it.

    1. Val, sometimes saying ‘thank you’ seems inadequate. So many wonderful people have motivated me to write this blog, and so many, such as yourself, still do. It’s a great pleasure for me, made extra special by so many who leave their replies. Thank you!

  2. For a moment Paul and Jean, my heart lurched in my chest as i saw the title of this post.. and I smiled widely as you reflect the years of togetherness .. A wonderful friendship which has bonded you so firmly together through high times and low times..

    Love and Blessings.. Sue xxx

  3. It is good to reflect on the blessings of a beautiful companion, I am also glad you continue to enjoy the existence of Pharaoh.

    1. Thank you, Alex. I try very hard to mirror the trick displayed by Pharaoh and the others. The trick of living firmly in the present and treasuring what he and all the other beautiful dogs give me and Jean.

  4. Oh I can see you love your doggie and companion very much! So lovely. It makes me want to get a dog too, they are very special animals. I travel so much so it is not the right time for me, I can simply enjoy the pleasure of other peoples dogs at the moment. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    1. When the time is right for you, then do let us know. Or very happy to put you in direct touch with Jeannie if you want her experience on giving a dog a new loving home. Lovely to have your reply, thank you.

      1. I spent two very happy years in Australia from 1968 until 1970. Based in Sydney but I was able to do much travelling across the whole of the continent.

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