2 things have motivated these following thoughts. First of which was the attached picture of Oody sent by our friends. And second of which was the attached (at the end) post Rachael wrote regarding transitional stages, winter and the subject of grief and trauma in our animals and our own as we have to let them go. It got me ‘finkin’ 🤔🐒 stimulated me to write the below:
‘My best friend on our favourite walk.
Oody is such a trooper for his age. In his 13th year (84 years in dog years).
He has lost weight and some muscle definition over the last year to year and a half. He cannot do the distances he once could and definitely feels a bit stiffer and less flexible in his joints after a walk of more than a mile, particularly his hind. A GSD/large dog thing as they get older, as many will know.
But Oody still loves his life fully. Our walk in the above picture is one of his favourites. Wide open beach when the tide is out. A mile walk to reach the sea, where he will happily chase his coconut in the waves. It’s like a little game he and the ocean play with each other, it really feels like that. The ocean is always playful but gentle with my old friend. Me on the other hand, she likes to smash about and have a little more boisterous fun, reminding me she is not to be trifled with 😂
Oody comes with me everywhere and, despite his years, can still hop in and out the back of our Toyota without assistance…most of the time 😊 - sometimes he miss-times his jump up and then just looks at me, half up, half down, and says, ‘I could do with a little help dad,’ and waits for me to lift him up. He deserves nothing less 🥰 I got to get a step up.
His mind is sharp. He is tuned into our environment, the sounds, the scents, movements; as he always has been. He takes his role of family protector very seriously although with a little less intensity these days and a lot more tolerance of other people and animals. But still needing to know who is coming, going and around. As tuned into their intentions as he was at 4 years old.
But he is old now! And I can see what is coming. I’m getting emotional as I write this. I know that one day in the not to distant future I am going to have to let him go.
He might fall and hurt himself tomorrow…today, and that decision - one I have been shoving to the back of my mind - might have to be made. He may be around for another few years. My last ‘one man dog’ was a GSD who died at 15. But there is a certain sadness that sits within me knowing it is now on the horizon for Oody.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not sad. I’m not down about it. In fact it has made me embrace the time we do have with greater clarity. With greater joy.
He loves, as I do, his daily massages. And always directs me to his shoulders and hind. He usually opts for a short one. Never more than 5-10 minutes before he’s had enough. Very gentle stuff. Just stimulating and moving things a little. Bringing a little relief to his aching joints. A bit of movement and flexibility. Just to point out he’s not in pain. If he was suffering it would not be a difficult decision at all. Traumatic and full of grief, but not a difficult one.
No! Oody loves his life. He loves his walks, his family of people and animals, growing all the time here. And definitely loves his reiki sessions and energy work. He reminds me of an old martial arts master who used to punch and kick bricks and bits of wood. At some point they become much less aggressive and much subtle in movement. Much less external force and much more internal strength. He has become a doggy master 😂
Oody has tuned into those subtle energies as he has become older. Appreciating the work of energy and touch with more accord. Just like some of the masters I have witnessed.
This comforts me in those moments when the sadness, my shadow, surfaces. Knowing he is not leaving but transforming is a powerful thing.
But this is something I have had to tune into, am still learning to tune into. The experiences I have had leave me no doubt that the end of our animals physical lives - as with our own - is by far the end of our journey 🥰
This comforts me tremendously. I wish I could share my ‘knowing’ with everyone. But I can’ not. And that is as it should be. We each ‘know’ our own truths and live our lives accordingly. As the universe was designed.
Coming back to point. Oody is approaching that transition point. Whether I like it or not. I know this. But no matter what I ‘know’ about what happens next (or at least what I think I know happens next) it will not soften the trauma and grief which will follow. The moment he moves on and I have to let him go.
I have had to go through this before, with a few animals, friends, family. It is not unknown territory to me. It is something I have experienced from early in life.
My father died when I was 10. I had lost all my grand parents by my 20s and my mum - some one I was very close to - died almost 3 years ago now. I have lost many animals along that way also.
Now, I’m not ‘sob’ storying here. I’m not looking for sympathy. I don’t need it. I have made peace with this and transformed because of it. Just saying this to put things into perspective.
I do feel that it has given me an insight into the end, and beginning, of ‘things’ that has matured into something very helpful to me. In my state of mind and outlook toward death and life that is.
When I started my reiki journey it really helped crystallise what I thought about death into what I ‘know’ about death - funny word death. It’s meaning has shifted for me over the years to something akin with hexagram 52 in the I Ching, ‘Keeping Still.’ It signifies the end and the beginning of all things. Showing that all endings are simply new beginnings. Death being that place between. A transitional stage between one movement and another. That space between breaths. Nothing is destroyed, merely transformed. An intuitive knowledge that predates science’s understanding of this concept by several thousand years…at least.
Reiki gave me personal experiences that are impossible to share with others but showed me clearly that this physical realm we exist in, at this point, is a tiny fraction of the whole. A slither of a reflection of what is real. If you know what I mean 😂
It is different with Oody, with the animals we bond so closely with. Where their unconditional love and loyalty creates energetic connections that become part of our own fabric and theirs. Literally!
I have only had one other animal that I was this close with. Another male GSD called Douglas. He was a different dog altogether to Oody. They were different times. I was a different person. But our bond, relationship and connection was just the same. He was as loyal and trusting in me as a dog could get. And he was my closest companion for many years in one of my most isolated chapters.
I had him when I first met Rachael and he was an old boy when Maddie came along. He was 15 when I had to have him euthanised. It was the hardest thing I had ever had to do. And I had waited maybe a year to long. His quality of life was not great for that last year. I think now he was just waiting for me to be ready to let go. Which I never was going to be.
It broke me for a short while. I was lucky to have had a family and a Rachael in support. To refocus me.
It was not long after Douglas had gone that Lola, another GSDish dog, bitch, arrived as a rescue. Mad as a hatter, aggressive toward me- she had had a tricky start at the hands of a man and been witness to some awful things - she stole all our food - had had to learn to survive as best she could before arriving with us - But she loved our children unconditionally and tolerated them without limits. She would also not let anyone, but particularly men, anywhere near our children until we had said it was ok. I tolerated all the other stuff because of how she was with our family. With my children. She became a solid and well loved part of the family. She taught me many things. Not least of which (besides don’t leave food lying around) was to be patient and gentle. I needed that lesson and was grateful to her for teaching it to me.
Where as Douglas, my previous dog, was definitely a one man dog, Lola was our family Dog. She also gave us a strong litter of 7 healthy pups. Of which Oody was one.
Oody and mine’s relationship is the same as I had with Douglas. In so much as he is a one man dog. He is where I am always. He does not want to be anywhere else. I feel the same way. He is my closest companion, my best friend. when I seek solitude, I do it with him. He’s always ‘got my back,’ and I his.
Reading Rachael’s post regarding the lesson on Trauma and grief With Sarah, it’s association with this time of year - new beginnings - and the ‘shadows’ in myself it has brought up, is why I started writing this…this thing 😂
That and this wonderful picture of Oody carrying his coconut on our favourite beach sent by our very lovely friends. Pictures are like memories, in so much as one day they will be what we have left of the places, people and animals we love. In much the same way I know my own children will only have the memories of me one day, which is why i work to make good memories and experiences with them. One day they may be all they have left of us, at a purely physical level anyway 😂
So, said most of that for my own therapy really. To help me to come to terms with what I know is approaching. To do a little shadow work, accepting some of my own darkness and finding the right place, the right ‘shelf’ to put it on.
I will not wait as long as I did with Douglas but neither will I let my friend go easily. It’s all a balance.
Having a much stronger and much more integrated ‘knowing’ about what happens next is also very helpful. But so will be knowing how to work with my grief. My trauma. My emotional being. Knowing how to let go is as important to me now as holding on to the things I was afraid of losing used to be. If that makes sense? 😂
But I think ‘letting go’ is what they also need us to do for them. Letting them go physically, emotionally and spiritually allows them to move on energetically. It allows their energy to do what it needs to. Whether that’s returning to the light, becoming a soul companion, a higher entity on their own merits, meeting us at some other place, hanging around here a while to help out or a combination of all the above - just to clarify when I say ‘know’ i mean I know that nothing really dies. That we are all part of infinite consciousness having singular experiences named Jeremy, Sheila, Jason etc. but beyond that I’m just a hairless monkey trying to understand the infinity of the universe like everybody else 😂
It doesn’t matter what I think I ‘know’ or what anybody else thinks they ‘know’ about what comes next, or even if there is a next at all (question everything after all) No. not really. Not when comes to letting go of what we cannot hold on to.
But it does matter that we learn to let our trauma go and work through our grief. It doesn’t mean we have you let them go. They never really do.
It is useless. Words are rubbish tools to describe these things.
But I like these words of Keanu Reeves as they seem to speak to everyone, no matter whatever your belief system, your ‘knowing’ about what may or may not happen after death.
When asked what he thinks happens when we die, after a considerable pause Keanu said, ‘I know that we will be missed by all those who loved us.’
And maybe that’s all that needs to be ‘known.’ Ya know? 😂🥰💜
Rachael's post on her group on facebook
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