Dedicated to Dudley.
Animals, The Great Teachers
We are all energetic beings. Including our animals.
Cesar Milan, The Dog Whisperer, says, “To your dog, you are just an energy with a scent.” Most of our communication with animals is purely nonverbal. It’s not in what we say, but rather in how we say it. It’s in the unspoken, yet felt, languages of the heart.
I have a soft spot for most creatures. In fact, I’ve been a crazy cat lady for as long as I can remember. But in this post, I’m mostly referring to the amazing bonds we humans have with our dogs.
To Own a Dog Or To Not Own a Dog
One cannot know a thing until one experiences a thing…such as owning a dog (and one that you jive particularly well with, at that)!
I have heard people say that animals don’t have feelings or consciousness and they are just smelly creatures that belong outside. If you view an animal as an object or a tool, I can see how one would think so….but they are so much more than that.
Evidence shows time after time that children who are around animals (without being forced to wash their hands every five minutes) are MUCH better off having that exposure.
Exposures to certain pet-associated microbes, especially in the neonatal period (as babies), appear to be able to dramatically alter how a child’s immune system develops and this in turn reduces the risk of allergic sensitization and disease. –“Recent Understanding of Pet Allergies”, PubMed , 2016
Beyond allergies and immunological benefits, I think pets are such amazing healers and teachers. It’s remarkable to show your child compassion, responsibility, assertiveness, forgiveness, and unconditional love….through pet ownership.
Besides the fact that dogs make us feel protected and loved, they do so much to benefit our society: they find missing people, detect bad guys, rescue victims, they can sense seizures, help our elderly to stay active and live longer, and they provide a deep form of therapy.
I loved this article which ties together all sorts of interesting facts gathered about the benefits of owning a dog! Such as…
“In a study of patients who had suffered heart attacks, the mortality rate among people with pets was one third that of patients without animal companionship.”
Duke the Great
My husband grew up as the little boy who longed for a dog but was never able to have one. So, naturally, as soon as he became an adult, he met and found his forever dog, Duke.
My husband navigated his early adulthood with Duke by his side, uncovering and discovering who he was. They went on quite the journey together, equally saving one another. They navigated leaving a religion, the heartbreak of a first love, and the scary and joyous experience of starting a family.
It wasn’t until the latter parts of Duke’s life that I got to be a part. We had a very special bond and he was ever gentle with Sterling.
Duke lived for 12 wonderful years.
He was an amazing and kind old boy that we won’t soon forget. But his bond with my husband was far more deep than I could even comprehend…until I met Dudley.
Dudley the Great
Beautiful boy Dudley was a rescue dog. Black and white, with big floppy ears and the most expressive eyes I’ve ever seen. Something from the depths of my soul told me that he was meant to be our dog.
Lucky for us, we were chosen, among five other families, as potential family for Dudley.
Not having a ton of experience with dogs, I showed up at his foster home with some treats, a leash, and an open heart. Dudley barked at me as I approached the front yard. My teeth began to chatter. He was a big boy! He was much more energetic than Duke. Was I really ready for this? Would he respect me? I prayed to maintain my confidence and show him that I’d be a great leader of the pack!
Nervous, I headed down the street on a walk with him. My jaw still chattering. But I was ready for this, I was ready for him.
As soon as Remington met him, we felt even more convinced that Duke had lined up some stars on the other side and brought him to us. We’ve always joked that they must be long lost brothers.
We prayed, crossed our fingers, and left it up to fate…and lucky for us, we were chosen as Dudley’s family!
Dudley, the name that fit
When we first met him, he was called, “Gigantor”. But of course, we knew he was much to gentle a giant to be called such an obnoxious, show-pony kind of name. Before that, his name had been, “Zeus”…which also wasn’t a good fit (in spite of his size, he was no macho dog).
The name Dudley came to us almost magically and seemed to fit so well with his goofy, innocent nature. With no coincidence, he immediately seemed to recognize it as his name.
A Forever Home
It was a rough adjustment at first with Dudley. He was extremely nervous and insecure because he had been shuffled around so much. However, after many walks and lots of cuddle sessions (and eating several pairs of my nicest heels)…he began to realize that we weren’t just another foster home.
Like magic, he begin to settle in and I watched him blossom. I watched us blossom.
We had three and a half amazing years with Dudley. In that time, we all grew so much.
He was a fur brother, a fur son, and even a “four-legged-grandson”…he was a true member of our family.
We will forever cherish the hikes, walks, camping trips, our engagement and wedding, and everything in between….But mostly, I will just miss him and that big beautiful spirit….
My Forever Dog, A Love Like I’ve Never Known
Throughout my life, I’d met many people who had been struck by the love and loss of a dog. Truthfully, it’s something I didn’t quite comprehend. Not because I didn’t believe in the depths of a human-dog relationship, but because I simply hadn’t experienced it in the way that others did.
Until I met Dudley.
Now I get it.
Our human-animal bonds are no less precious or sacred than our bonds with humans. I think they are almost more precious because everything is spoken from the heart, from our energy.
Weeks before we said our goodbyes, I woke up with a vision of Dudley’s face and a message that my sweet dog wouldn’t be with us much longer.
I shrugged it off. Surely, his limping must just be a torn knee-ligament. The next week, when we were able to get Dudley into the vet, I was out of town. My husband called me while I was having dinner, and with the crack in his voice, I knew it was serious.
Dudley had bone cancer.
It felt like I was swimming in a pool filled with suffocating Deja-Vu.
I can’t explain this, it’s energy…which I can honor without knowing or understanding.
And yet, all of the knowing in the world, and I would love him just the same.
His Forever Dog
What is a forever dog? I read about “forever dogs” in the children’s book, “For Every Dog an Angel“…and I just loved it. My take is…
A forever dog is the first dog who truly penetrates your heart, forever changing you. That initial love echoes through time and eternity, reminding you of the special bond between humans and animals.
The way Dudley did with me and Duke did with my husband.
Your forever dog shows you the true depths and joys of a human-animal bond. It gives you courage to allow yourself to love again, in hopes of feeling a similar connection….but you’ll never have one quite like you did with your forever dog. He was the first. The one that broke the mold.
And our next dog, I believe, will be my son’s forever dog.
At the ripe age one, and throughout those toddler years, he did gain a deep connection. But as his emotions and soul evolve, I think he is even more capable of an even deeper emotional bond with the next pup…but we’ll see. I cannot truly know the complexities of his little heart.
We are thankful to our forever dogs for showing us the true meaning of “man’s best friend”. And here’s to him finding his…
We are energy beings.
Animals remind us of the beauty, magic, and innocence in life. They show us that the bonds and love we share with others are special and sacred.
When that energy is no longer physically in your life, it can feel so similar to losing a human energy…because it is truly that special. The loss of the animal, the loss of their energy in your life can be devastating.
When faced with the end of our dog’s life and explaining it to our son, we just chose the simple route, honesty (just enough and not too much). We all grieved together. We talked about it, read some uplifting stories, looked at photos….and have shared both our immense love and our immense loss, as a family unit.
Saying goodbye to Dudley was so difficult. And while I know some people may never quite understand, I am forever changed by his beautiful, gentle spirit.
You will forever be my forever dog <3.