A reminder…

Ever since I made the decision to consciously pursue this journey, I’ve been receiving very blatant reminders from a soul near and dear to my heart. A promise made by her to let me know everything will be okay. Since I started this journey, almost on a daily basis, I’ve either heard our special song or folks have sent me photos of the words of the song that they came across after reading the post. Punkin will always be my sunshine. The following is a repost of an older entry .

A Special Request Granted…12/31/2010
Thank you Nepenthe.

This may seem a little late after the fact, but I was waiting for something truly special to occur. As many of you know, both our dogs succumbed to old age last year. The last to leave us in November ’09 was Nepenthe.

Nepenthe means Remover of Sorrow. As a puppy, she proved to be a source of constant sorrow by trying Ruth’s patience daily. The other dogs always picked fights with her from an early age. She became a loner and fearful that they would attack her. As a result, she never really learned how to play with others. But in her self isolation, she learned to become self reliant, observant and calculating. She became the aggressor, attacking at the slightest sign of malice towards her. She became a killer of cats and preyed on them when they dared to be outdoors. She was suspicious of just about everything.

When I arrived in her life, I was very much afraid of her. Only for the fact that she was a pitbull. I was coming from a country where pitbulls were used for security, where they were the mean, unpredictable, human attacking canines. I tried my best to either stay away from her or stay very still around her. She was persistent though. Like a cat that knows which human does not want to interact with them…she was constantly seeking my attention, seeming content to have her entire body curled on my lap. She was forever either by my side or in my lap. It didn’t matter where we were, she had to be with me. She’d sit on my lap while I sang “You are my Sunshine” to her. She’d throw her head up in the air, lean into me and smile. She became my Princess and I treated her as such. She had already earned the nickname of “Punkin” cause her head was so big for her body. The words to the song quickly changed to “You are my Punkin, my only Punkin. You make me happy when skies are grey. You never know dear, how much I love you. So please don’t take my Punkin away”. She loved that song so much, that she was all smiles and wiggles the first time she heard it on the radio.She was a food-oholic. Using her calculating skills to snatch food whenever no one was looking. Our favorite food story was the day our receptionist, Ashley, came back from Walgreens with a loaf of bread to make her lunch. Ashley left the bread on the lunch table to answer the phone in the other room. When she returned (less than one minute later), she couldn’t find the bread anywhere. It had literally vanished into thin air. Punkin was sitting very quietly on her dog bed, looking at Ashley and looking around the room like nothing had happened. Ashley was about to make her way out of the room, when Punkin vomited the bread she had managed to scarf down in Ashley’s absence. In doing so, she had to stand up. Lo and behold, underneath Punkin, she had hidden the rest of the bread by sitting on it, waiting patiently for Ashley to leave so she could finish the rest. There was no limits to her cunning.

The pack had thinned out by this time to Arnold, Chase, Bill, Romy and Punkin. Arnold had become her companion and source of guidance. Enough so that she was able to earn her Canine Good Citizen badge. Chase was the annoying little brother who didn’t know when to quit. Bill and Romy were just the cats that lived with her. Chase would always push her buttons and she would try valiantly not to react in her “younger pitbullery” way. She would always look at us with pleading eyes to make him stop before she was forced to do something drastic. She had become the pitbull that was afraid of her own shadow. She had become the pitbull that awoke surprisingly from her own fart looking around for its origins. She became the pitbull that was so proud of her powerful bark that had “killed” a possum. She had become the pitbull that would shower you with kisses. As she told one animal communicator, there is an art to dog kissing. The perfect dog kiss was confident, nurturing, reassuring and didn’t leave the receiver wanting a towel to wipe it off. She became the pitbull that was the perfect hostess, ensuring everyone was taken care of, had given her a hug (and hopefully some food). She became the pitbull that mourned my absence when I was out of town. She became my protector and guardian when Ruth was out of town. She became my source of joy and comfort. She earned her name on the days I was down and became my remover of sorrow.

When Arnold passed away, it took her three months to stop grieving. Chase began pushing her buttons even more, hoping to get his chance at being alpha. He never got that opportunity. They were both up there in age and on the few occasions she couldn’t keep her cool and just had to respond by defending herself…she would turn blue. She had developed a debilitating heart condition. She had passed out one day while running the yard. We treated her with Chinese Herbs and changed her crock pot diet to include heart and qi tonics. These changes extended her life by three years.

When Chase passed away, she seemed to have gotten depressed. In his last days, she would sit in front of his crate and they would have lengthy discussions. It seemed they had made their peace. We contacted Diane Samsel, an animal communicator. I was afraid she would slip into another long grieving period and I didn’t want her spending her last few months being depressed. Diane informed us that she was actually quite happy that Chase was gone because it meant she would finally get all the attention she deserved. What we mistook for sadness was actually illness. Her heart was making her feel tired and worn out. Diane also informed us that Arnold and Chase were waiting for Punkin to pass on before they returned to us. So, we changed her formulas again and used the therapeutic laser to help ease her arthritic pain. She bounded back to her new found “puppy” freedom.

Punkin loved to be my Sous Chef and Taste Tester.

Punkin loved to be my Sous Chef and Taste Tester.

She tried to play with Bill and Romy. But they weren’t used to her playing. Their reactions reminded me of my first encounters with Punkin…either stay away from her or stay stock still. Don’t get me wrong…they loved her, they’d walk under her and hug her with their tails or rub their heads under her chin. But boy oh boy, they had no clue what to make of this exuberant pitbull bounding and play bowing before them. Even Ruth and I didn’t know what to make of it. She had never played with any animal before, so we were always on edge when she went bounding towards the cats.

Despite her new found exuberance, I knew she was fading on me. She had stopped eating unless hand fed. Her energy level was normal in the mornings but she was wiped out by mid afternoon. She seemed to have developed both kidney failure and a gastric ulcer at the same time. She often got disoriented. I had spent many nights whispering to her that it was okay to go. That we would be fine. She didn’t need to experience this agony and pain. It was okay to go. But she hung in there.

On her final week, Ruth had to go out of town for the weekend on a family matter. Punkin was slower, but nothing major. We dropped Ruth off at the airport and she gave her usual farewell to her…a big hug and kiss and the words “Take care of Nata while I’m gone. I’ll be back soon.” Punkin looked confused and sad that Ruth was leaving. But she took her words to heart.

The Loves of my Life...Ruth and Punkin

The Loves of my Life…Ruth and Punkin

That day at the office, she started her path towards the other side. I called Ruth to let her know that I didn’t think she was going to make it through the weekend. She had started panting and staring off into space for extended periods of time or seem to follow an “unseen” movement with her eyes. But she’d have those moments, where she’d perk up and everything seemed fine. I knew better. Ruth said she’d get back as soon as she could. I called Diane.

Diane informed me that she was looking at Chase, who was helping her to transition to the other side. That she felt restless in spite of feeling exhausted. That she was spending more time out of her body. Diane said she was not going to go on her own and that Punkin wanted Ruth and I to be there with her to help her transit. Diane said she was torn by her duty to look after me while Ruth was out of town. Her loyalty was interfering with her innate ability to leave her body.

Well great! Ruth wasn’t here! I knew Punkin needed to be euthanised and soon. But I was now torn between doing what was right for her and respecting her wishes to have both Ruth and I present. I decided we’d at least get some fluids into her. The other technician and I were able to get a catheter in her, and give her some fluids. But she had a burst of energy, wanted nothing to do with the fluid therapy. But the little we were able to give her seemed to have perked her up. So I waited.

I had a client coming into town who was going to stay the night with us. Despite death knocking at her door, Punkin slipped into “hostess” mode. She greeted our guest with the usual “now fake” exuberance. Our guest never knew anything was wrong with Punkin until I shared what we had been going through. Behind closed doors, Punkin would slip back into her space gazing. That night, she jumped off the bed for what I presumed was for a drink of water. She never found her legs and landed flat on her tummy, all four legs splayed. I helped her up, she looked embarrassed, shook it off and went to get her drink of water.

The next morning, she had her first seizure. It lasted less than a minute. She again looked embarrassed, confused and scared all at once. I helped her downstairs, she saw our guest and it was like nothing out of the ordinary had occurred. She was back to being the hostess. I built her a fire and she stayed on her dog bed in front of the fire, while I prepared breakfast for our guest. She made sure I stayed within her line of vision. Our guest left and she slowly walked up to me and had her second seizure. I carried her back to the bed and stayed with her.

Ruth had called and was going to be able to get a flight in that day. Punkin just had to hang in there for a few more hours. She had started her death rattle and the space staring was for longer periods of time. I stayed by her side. Rubbing her big ol’ head, telling her stories about when she was younger, telling her it really was okay for her to leave. I finally broke down and started singing her song, changing the last line so she didn’t feel obligated to stay. “You are my Punkin, my only Punkin. You make me happy when skies are grey. You’ll never know dear, how much I love you. I’ll love you now and always.” She perked up enough to give me her perfect kisses on my tear stained face. Constantly my remover of sorrow.

You know you say things that you won’t usually say at times when you’re really mad and times when you’re really sad. This was one of those times. My heart was tearing into pieces, my source of joy was disappearing fast before my eyes. I was feeling guilty for having let her go through this much agony. I have consoled many clients during this time of letting go and here I was finally, truly experiencing it for all it was worth. So I asked Punkin for the impossible. I asked her for a very specific sign to let me know I shouldn’t feel guilty and that things were fine. To let me know I would be okay without her physically being here with me. To let me know she will always be with me, protecting and loving me. I asked for the biggest most impossible thing I could think of. I asked for the one thing I humanly knew she had no control over. I asked for the one thing only God and nature would be able to perform. Ruth was the only other soul who knew of this foolhardy request. For those of you who know me, know that I cannot keep a secret. I kept this one, close to my heart.

Through all this, she started having facial expressions like she was having an argument with the beyond. I was getting goosebumps sensing several “other” presences surrounding us during this time. Romy, our youngest cat, came and laid next to Punkin as though to comfort her as well. Ruth didn’t make it back in time. But Punkin left this world with a final kiss on my chin and a sigh.

Life moved on. We got three new additions to our family. Elsa, the cat (who I believe is Punkin reincarnated into a form that allows her to play and get to food easier), Sammie (who from all appearances is Arnold reincarnated) and finally Esau (who also seems to be Chase reincarnated). But those are stories for a later date.

I started this entry by saying, I was waiting for something very special to happen. Punkin kept her promise and provided me with my seemingly impossible request. Exactly three months after her passing. After exactly three months of grieving…it snowed! With the exception of Hawaii, it snowed in every single state of America. Coincidence or a dog’s undying love and loyalty…you pick. I have my answer.

Snow in our front yard…Punkin’s Promise.

Sent to me from someone who came across the words the day after reading the post.

Sent to me from someone who came across the words the day after reading the post in 2013.

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