Since it has been a while, I wanted to write a blog post a day or two ago, but with the excitement of all of our tornado weather in the last few days, I (and our four-legged son Meril, unfortunately) have been rather distracted. But today I am inspired to bring up a topic that is so very close to my heart, and that is the subject of pets and the afterlife. At the risk of getting the Syvlia Browne haters riled up again, I’ve had her book All Pets Go to Heaven on my shelf waiting to be read for several years now. It’s not a book I’ve been excited to read because sometimes I just don’t even want to think about the topic, but just like our family and loved ones of the human variety, death can never be avoided. It’s a reality that we all must go through. As my “to be read” shelf has gotten down to just a few books (that have also been there for a while), I decided to get this one started a few days ago.
I won’t lead you to believe that this is the greatest book in the world that you have to drop into your Amazon shopping cart right this moment. To be honest, if it weren’t for Borders going out of business a few years back, I probably would never have had it. The first third of the book is actually pretty dry and discusses the history of animals as pets, animal totems, etc. Once you get past all that, Sylvia includes several heartfelt stories from readers about their pets, pets coming back from the other side to visit, and in a few cases even having a hand in choosing their owner’s next pet after they cross over. These stories got me thinking back to all of my pets growing up, and of course the love we have for our very spoiled son Meril, who gives us so much happiness today.
My very first dog that I have memory of was named “Mickey Mouse”, even though she was a girl dog. She was very much a mutt and as a puppy was rescued by my father near the banks of the Missouri River in my hometown of Lexington, Missouri. Though the memory is foggy, I remember her energy and running around the house, tail wagging like crazy. If I calculate correctly, Mickey Mouse was 19 when she died. I was actually a freshman or sophomore in college and away from home at the time. When I got the call my heart broke. I didn’t really have any memories of life without her. How was I going to live without her? Often growing up I would literally talk to her out loud, telling her my silly problems with tears in my eyes (and she always seemed to understand and was there to listen). She was mostly an outside dog, and to this day I’ve never seen a dog with such street smarts. I swear to you she looked both ways before crossing the street to get to the field across from our house. I can still hear her squeaky bark and remember how she would stand guard for hours, trapping a squirrel in a tree. After mom called me upset and gave me the news I remember lying on my bed in my apartment an hour away from home and crying all day. At one point something caught my eye toward the entrance of my apartment. I swear I saw Mickey Mouse walk into the room from the front door, but things were blurry and in a flash she was gone. I, of course, talked myself into believing I imagined it because of being upset. But did I?
Growing up we had several other dogs who have since passed. Even before Mickey Mouse died we lost a beautiful dog named “Missie” who was hit by a car. We hadn’t had her very long. After my father buried her in the back yard, it was actually my Aunt Mae or my Grandma Keller (don’t remember) who saw me sitting by the grave by myself and walked down to console me, explaining that maybe Missie would be reincarnated and I would see her again. I don’t remember my reaction or response to the thought, but that was the first time I had heard of such a thing. I do, however, remember believing with all of my heart that I’d see all of my dogs greet me when I got to the other side. Mickey Mouse was our first dog. She was so special… and she was the one who lived the longest. Gosh… I get choked up now even thinking about it.
I’m only halfway through the book now, but I felt inspired to share this with you today. It is only fitting that right before I began writing this post I found the following story being shared on Facebook, a story about a hero dog named Kaiser, who crossed that beautiful rainbow bridge just yesterday.
May 31, 2013 (PLYMOUTH, Mass.) (WLS) — Police officers in Plymouth, Mass. saluted “Kaiser” the police dog as he was led to the vet’s office to be put down on Friday.
The 2.5-year-old German Shepherd was diagnosed with a chronic and fatal kidney disease this March, according to Plymouth Police patrolman Jamie Lebretton, who handled the dog.
“Kaiser loved being a Police Dog and I will miss him dearly. Out of love and respect for Kaiser, and with the input from our excellent vet, trainer, and family, I have made the heart wrenching decision to end Kaiser’s suffering,” Lebretton posted on the K-9 unit’s Facebook page.
An image showing the Plymouth Police officers saluting the dog quickly went viral on Friday after it was posted on Facebook by the Old Colony Memorial and Reddit.
Rest In Peace, Kaiser. The respect shown for this furry hero makes me tear up. So sweet.
Anyone have a story to share? Have you had similar experiences?
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