jon katz

A Deep Stirring of the Heart

A Deep Stirring of the Heart
Just days before Frankie moved on…

I was deeply moved by a post  on author Jon Katz’ blog this morning. So much so, I’m still having tearful moments as I write this.

They aren’t tears of sadness, though some bittersweet. But tears of recognition – of understanding – of having been in this space – and have come away from it profoundly changed.

Jon’s border collie, Red, who so many have come to love, is dealing with an unknown illness right now. A therapy dog who has touched so many lives he is also the spirit dog here at this time marking a passage in Jon’s life.

Having talked with a healer and animal communicator this morning, Jon wrote this:

Kimberly was direct, she told me that my challenge now was to recognize Red’s exhaustion and discomfort, and to give  him the time he needs to rest and to heal.

There was a time in my life when I would not have been able to hear this, I was too broken myself,  but I know Kimberly and trust her, and she simply went to the heart of it with me and with Red.

This stirred my heart with much emotion remembering my work with my paralyzed dachshund, Frankie, who was in a wheelchair, and touched so many lives herself. And without a doubt in every fiber of my being, she came here to help me heal – though I didn’t recognize it at first – and that gift would continue to unfold as we had a shared purpose and mission.

The recognition in realizing I was sensing she was slowing down in 2011 – she was ready to retire. Her time was coming to an end and my life, and our life as I’d come to love it, was about to change. And I didn’t know how I’d go on without her.

But in those last six months, and for months afterwards, the whisper in my heart that didn’t want to surface or admit to was that I too, was ready to slow down and move on. And it was also in learning to let go of what was, and to accept that Frankie wouldn’t live forever, and that I’d be okay.

It opened my heart to understanding more than before that with the gut-wrenching pain of loss, finding our way back to gratefulness of what was, was the whole point of our journey. How blessed I was to have had the opportunities I did with her.

How blessed I was to have this spirit dog, who forever changed my life for the better. It was imperative that I recognize and honor her wish to now retire and live out her days next to my side as I wrote the memoir of our journey.

This too, an enriching gift, of days with her all to myself. To give thanks for all the compassion she not only showed me, but others.

And getting to this place of not wallowing in her passing, but in the bliss that she brought to my life, that her gift lives on… and her spirit fills me each and every time I think of her.

And I’m grateful when my heart gets stirred from a post like Jon’s – a reminder of a time that was excruciatingly difficult, but with time I can now look back and my heart smiles with such joy from the love of Frankie.

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It’s a Red Letter Day!

It's a Red Letter Day!

Perhaps you’ve heard of a red letter day?  I’d not heard of it until I started reading author Susan Branch’s books.

A red letter day is… a day that is pleasantly noteworthy or memorable.

I don’t know what makes for a red letter day for you, but this is what has made it a red letter day for me so far  today:

  • The sun is shining after about six days of cloudy and rainy weather. Yay!
  • Going for a walk on my lunch hour with Gidget we saw a mama and papa duck crossing the road with five yellow little ones waddling behind. Yay!
  • Passing the veterinarian in town a black lab and border collie were playing ball on their lunch hour. Yay!
  • The church bells were ringing. Yay!
  • Arriving home I found in my mailbox Jon Katz’ new book, Talking to Animals – How we can understand animals and they can understand you. Yay!
  • It was warm enough to eat my lunch outside on my deck. Yay!
  • Tonight date night at a restaurant on a lake that was closed for a little over a year, which we were so disappointed about – but it is now open again. Yay!

It really is the simple pleasures of life that make it a red letter day for me. And I hope wherever you are you are having a red letter day, too!

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On Knowing When It’s the Right Dog for You

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I’ve been watching with great interest as my favorite author, Jon Katz and his dear artist wife, Maria of Bedlam Farm have been searching for a new dog to bring into their lives.

The breeder they hoped to get a pup from was taking longer than usual, the dog not going into heat when they’d hoped. They considered adopting, but had a bad experience visiting a shelter over the weekend.

But then something prompted Jon to reach out to the woman who had given him his border collie, Red. As fate would have it and the stars aligned, they knew when they saw the pup with one blue eye that she was the one.

And get this….her name is Fate. I think they need no other clearer signs than this. It was meant to be.

It brought up the times this has happened to me. How it is when you just know. While at times I’ve been anxious for a new dog after one has passed, I believe that it has to feel right—that there is this connection that is undeniable.

At least this is how it works for me. It made me think again about Gidget and how I found her. Or perhaps I should say she found me? But likely once again everything aligned and we were supposed to be together.

When I saw her face and those telling eyes, after looking at hundreds of dachshunds, I felt that familiar tingle in my heart. She was the one.

While I had passed over many sweet and adorable, and most likely great dogs, I couldn’t stop looking at Gidget and found myself getting lost in her eyes. She drew me into her being. I couldn’t stop thinking about her.

It just brings me back to how connection is so important—for both you and your new dog.

Each day our love for each other deepens. I learn new things because of Gidget. I’m learning to step into and own more of my belief’s.

She is the one. And while I don’t know what the future holds, I take one day at a time, soaking in all the love that she is. And I thank all the stars in the universe for lining up in just the right way that brought her to me.

Jon’s post about what happened during a shelter visit in Vermont is worth reading. I was saddened to learn that some animal shelters are now using a process for adopting pets out that seems cold and impersonal for both the person and the dog.

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