Great teachers have told us that we are here to learn about the illusion of loss, to understand that duality is but an expression of our human fears. How can we avoid this teaching, when over the course of a lifetime, the mortality of our loved ones must take us to this place over and over again, as the experience of life force departing from physical form leaves us with a deep, ripe opportunity to know the eternity of the soul.

It may even seem that the gift of human consciousness becomes a curse, for once wounded we anticipate the blow, our heartbreak cannot be sidestepped, cannot be buried within no matter how hard we try. And yet is this not the challenge, is this not the power of our awareness rising to its full force, as we dare to witness what cracks us open and then declare, no, I will not lose the truth of my love; the body may give way, but my trust, my faith will not die…

From the spirits of the four-leggeds we hear wisdom beyond our own, as they walk at our side, teachers, lovers of the heart, unquestioning friends. Here is one such transmission from a  deceased dog to her young mistress. The love between these souls leads us where so many fear to go…


Oh I am happy
for this chance to speak with you
happy to be with you
in this way again

Can you feel my joy, girl
can you feel it
just the same
as every time
you came home
and I came home
to you?

The first thing
I want you to know
is that my leaving
was quick
and easy
Sometimes a dog
can get old and weak
stiff and sore
and I didn’t have to go through that
I was young
and happy
right up until the end
so I’m not complaining
about anything now

I miss you though
and I think of you
because I can feel you
reaching for me
wondering about me
being angry about me
and none of those things
are necessary
because I’m right here
and even though you can’t touch me
just now
I am with you
and I am fine

Dogs see things
so differently than people do
and we don’t dwell
we don’t get stuck places
so for me
it was all in a day
and I was done with the experience
nothing to worry about
nothing to carry with me
where I went
I’m still me
goofy and sweet
restless and patient
playful and sleepy
intent on adventure
and something to eat

I can understand
of course
I can feel
your broken heart
how you wished more than anything
you could reach out

and do something

to fix it
to bring me home
once more
And I can understand you
being angry
feeling that I didn’t get
looked after
the way you would have
if I had been with you

But truly
my girl
my friend
it wasn’t that she was a bad woman
she was just afraid
she didn’t know
not like you know things
and while it feels
as if it could all be different
we can’t think that way
because we have to trust
that we are all walking
where we are meant to be walking
all the time
Sometimes it’s a sidewalk
Sometimes it’s grass
but wherever we put our paws
is where they are meant to land

And when I look
into your heart
like I have done
so many times
what I see
isn’t just your sadness
that you wish you could have stopped
my death
but it’s a much bigger sadness
at the unfairness of so many things
at the very possibility
that love can go away
just like that
and leave darkness
where there was lots of light
just moments before

You see your own wisdom
your own love
You see your own knowing
that I wasn’t safe
(and that knowing was real)
so you want your love to be enough
to protect me
and everyone you love
from this kind of harm

And when you get angry
a part of you is angry at yourself
because you loved me
so very much
But my girl
my friend
you did nothing wrong
in fact
you did everything right

Can you see?
You listened to your heart
and you heard a truth
and even though you couldn’t stop
my path from unfolding
the way it did
you showed me over and over
how real
was your love
and I felt you
just like you felt me
so I wasn’t alone
I wasn’t alone when I crossed over
I was always
with you

You must have heard stories
about how dogs find their way home
from so far away
not because they have ever travelled
that road before
but because they just know
where home is
they just know

That is because dogs can feel love
through walls
through mountains
across miles
We can feel
what people are meant to feel
but only some do
like you

So we can feel our girls or boys
our people
even when you aren’t right there
at our side
and I felt you
I felt your love
and that was all
that was important
to me then
because I wasn’t meant to stay
I had a place to go
even though it made me
and you
very sad

I know my leaving
made you think about
all kinds of leaving
It made you remember
that you were safe and warm
with me
and so you wondered
how you would ever
feel safe and warm again
And it’s hard
it really is
but you are so brave
just like me
soft and brave
at the same time
and now all there is
is for you to learn how to come back
to joy
like me
be wagging in a moment
like me
because life is too short
to be moping around
for very long

It will help to understand
that when you feel angry
at everyone who didn’t listen to you
you need to bark
to make a noise
And when you’ve said your piece
then you’ll be ready to walk away
because there are more important things
to be done

You also have to promise me
that you won’t be afraid
next time you know something
the way you did
about me
people get scared about
that kind of knowing
but you musn’t
because it’s very real
it’s what I always did
and even though
not everyone listened to me
I never stopped trying
I never stopped knowing
because we can’t –
once we see something true
it never goes away

Once upon a time
I knew a little girl

and she was my girl

And then I watched her
growing up
bigger than I ever imagined
much bigger than me
And when it was time
for me to go
I watched her
from my knowing place
and I saw her grow
taller than anyone would have guessed
inside herself
because she had to
because she had to learn to feel
the safety of me
even when I wasn’t there
under her hand

That’s the thing about love
it never goes away
it just teaches us to look further
to reach deeper
the way dogs do
every day
It follows us
like a faithful friend
even when we are grumpy
even when we aren’t much fun
to be around

And my love
is following you
right now
past the worry
past the anger
past the feelings of guilt
and despair

Wasn’t I good at that?
Following you?
And why would that change
I’m even faster now
much lighter on my feet
and I’m waiting
I’m wagging
I’m the knowing
in that puppy’s eyes
when you smile at one another
when it’s time
to come home

Joy is so easy for us
if only it could be for you!
But I am forever grateful for your love
and I’ve felt it in your tears
in your angry fists
in your questions in the night
And now
it’s time to be strong in a new way
clearer than ever before
knowing there is nothing to do
but bark
and run
and never stop listening
to a heart that tells the truth

the way yours

has learned to do

And I promise
to always
be with you..

Cynthia Long / 09
photo by Cynthia Long


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