When it comes to animals it’s practically impossible to have one without the other.
Today’s post was inspired by a comment left on yesterday’s post The most beautiful bond of all by MargfromTassie. This is what she wrote (my emphasis):
Yes, these people are inspirational as are all the people who voluntarily give their time and efforts to animal welfare work, sometimes for years. For many, it can be emotionally traumatising as well as rewarding.
It didn’t take me long to agree that for most it will be emotionally traumatising. In fact, one of the great lessons that we learn from our dogs, and all the other animals that we love, is that unconditional love brings with it emotional trauma.
So much better expressed by Suzanne Clothier in her book Bones Would Rain from the Sky: Deepening Our Relationships with Dogs
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.
Our grief is always an insufficient measure of the joy we receive!
Speaking of joy, when we pulled back the bedroom curtains this morning (Thursday) the nest was empty!
For the last too many weeks to remember a mother Canadian Goose has been sitting on her nest of eggs with Father Goose staying close. We like to think that the mother returned to this place after having been born here a year ago.
Overnight five young healthy goslings were born! 🙂
May their little lives be full of love with a total absence of trauma!
Recently, she posted a beautiful poem to commemorate the nine years of having Susami in their lives. It is republished here with Bela’s kind permission.
There is a presence, here
and now; the bellows of breath,
warmth of blood, the feeling,
even if imagined,
that we are connected, one
to the other.
We each have our memories,
Your passing removes that utterly,
and somehow the same hand
lying on the same fur and flesh
will sense void, not even spirit,
not even that.
One can forgive the athiest,
or even theist their doubts,
props, religions. For this
at least is real:
This. Here. Now.
Tomorrow it will be gone.
And no matter in visions I linger
in the numinous; despite
in the garden I witness the alchemy
of decay transforming
into green and vibrant,
the loss of a loving companion
is egregious, indeed.
Bela explained how Susami came to them:
This sweet being has been with us only nine years, since she was about 10-12 weeks old. Her previous steward, a multiply-pierced and -tattooed young woman, had to find a home for her. We were on our way to the east coast to deal with some business, and I had taken our good friend Kevin with me to the local feed store to get the horse stocked up on alfalfa pellets (it was during a long drought). I saw the pup with a bandage on her leg before, and asked the gal what was wrong with her. I later learned from the store owner (who thanked me many, many times for giving Susami a good home) that the dog had been severely abused. (She never did tell me specifics, so I was left to wonder.) The young woman tried her best, but there were forces beyond her control in her environment. When I saw Susami again, we had to take her, but how? I asked Kev if he would watch yet one more animal for us while we were gone, and he happily agreed! So she joined our chocolate Lab who we brought with us to Hawaii from northern Maine (a Non-rescue). He was Thrilled to have that little creature’s companionship.
Going to close with the exquisite words from Suzanne Clothier that Dr. Jim Goodbrod used in the foreword to my book:
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.
(Suzanne Clothier: Bones Would Rain from the Sky: Deepening Our Relationships with Dogs.)
Suzanne’s words cannot be bettered when it comes to the death of a beloved dog.
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.
The story of a great dog!
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 Dogsback in August 2009.)
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”