About 7 years ago, I received an interesting phone call from a Fort Lauderdale woman named Beverly who identified herself as “skeptical but desperate.” She’d been given my name and phone number by a friend who’d seen my card somewhere and said she loved her dog enough to have me talk to her even though, she kept repeating, she had doubts. She had made a veterinary appointment for 7 am to euthanize Boo, an 11 year old Dalmatian with Cushing’s syndrome, a disease that damages both the muscular system and internal organs. She wanted to know if it was the right time.
I had never faced the loss of my own dogs with grace and dignity, traumatized each time and thrown into serious depression during a longer than normal mourning process. Suddenly within two weeks, I was called to help two dogs with their transition process and knew this was as much a lesson for me as it was therapeutic to the dogs and their families. I knew that after so many years of doing this work, I was being asked to assist in transition for a reason.
Bev lived with her partner of many years, Debbie; Boo, the Dalmatian; and Duke, a 13 year-old tuxedo Cocker Spaniel. Boo (named for her Halloween birthday) did actually greet me at the door with a couple of barks and lots of tail wagging before she retired to her big round bed on the living room floor. Bev explained that the dog seemed to be in pain as evidenced by her difficulty rising and decreased appetite and although she didn't want to prolong her suffering, she wanted to know Boo's
feelings. She stressed over and over that the dog was her life and as much as she said she was ready to let her go, I could see that she wasn’t. She did not want the dog to die alone in the house, so she
hired people to sit with her for a few hours a day. She was also through with testing and experimentation, refusing to subject the dog to more poking and prodding (Boo had extreme
I kneeled down with Boo, who was very open and eager to “talk.” She said very clearly that she was not ready to go and gave us specific instructions to prepare her people for her transition. She was very communicative and visual, showing me first a photograph of herself and a hamburger. This, Beverly said, was her birthday cake; Beverly actually had the local bakery create a cake in the shape of a hamburger. She said that in her office she displayed a photo of Boo with her cake. I interpreted this as Boo’s commitment to be here at least through her birthday. Images of
turkey kept surfacing when I closed my eyes, which I reported to Bev, who volunteered that turkey was Boo’s favorite food. But I felt it was more than that, and I said, "Thanksgiving. She won't be ready to leave until Thanksgiving." Our session was in the summer.
During the reading, Duke kept insisting I listen to him, and in so doing, I revealed to Debbiethat he was guided by a large long haired white cat who remained at his side in spirit. Both women were amazed – his first companion was a white Persian who died after many years with Duke. They were inseparable. My last contribution of the evening was to give Boo a Reiki session to ease some of her physical discomfort. After ten minutes of receiving the energy, she stood up, walked across the room to her full food dish, and ate the entire bowl. By the end of the nearly two hour session she was in
great spirits and her message to us was clear: she was not ready to leave.
Later that week I received another call from Bev, excited that for the three days following my visit, Boo exhibited no problems walking and had regained a full appetite, which she and Debbie attributed to the Reiki. They said she was a different dog and called their vet, raving about her improvement. Of course the vet was skeptical. They scheduled biweekly sessions with me for as long as Boo remained. If she told them nothing else, Beverlysaid, they wanted me for the Reiki alone because the physical and emotional change in the dog was remarkable.
Boo and I met every two weeks for conversation and Reiki. On her birthday, I brought her some Boar’s Head Turkey breast, her favorite.
She said she was comfortable and not yet ready to depart, giving us once again the images of Thanksgiving and the number 5. In the beginning of November, Bev called on a week night saying Boo’s condition had deteriorated and asked me to visit on Wednesday. I did. She was barely able to stand, although she did meet me at the front door, and she seemed extremely tired. Because of her Cushing’s syndrome, her muscles had atrophied and her skin sagged on her body. But she told us she was still not ready to go. Bev said she cried in pain at night, and in my talking to Boo, I learned the pain was in her head. I explained a healing technique I had just learned, EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique developed by Gary___), which consisted of a series repeated taps along the head and meridian points used by acupuncturists. Bev told me that under no circumstances would Boo ever let anyone touch her head as she had always been plagued with a sharp pain. I trusted my instincts and gently held out my hand into which Boo laid her chin. Then I began gently tapping on the top of her skull, above her eye, alongside her, under her eye, in the depression at her collar bone, and along her side. Beverlywas shocked. Even she couldn’t touch Boo’s head. I asked her permission to do the tapping routine again, and received the go ahead. Boo was perfectly still, a graceful statue, staring into my eyes lovingly while I tapped. At one point I closed my eyes and tuned into her thoughts, and she showed me a picture of a guru in meditation and shared the words, “I know what this is.” I relayed the information to Bev and Debbie, explaining that Boo was an ancient soul very comfortable with alternative healing and spiritual work. They were not at all surprised.
Boo still insisted she was not ready to transition but this time gave us a more direct sign. She said when she absolutely could no longer stand up; she would be ready to leave.
On Thanksgiving Day I was sitting at my computer wondering how this determined Dalmatian was doing when the phone rang. It was Debbie, frantic. Even I was surprised. She said that at 5 in the morning, Boo had tried to climb into the bed and fell backwards, hurting herself. She was shrieking in pain and unable to move, and neither Debbie nor Beverly was able to help. They called Debbie’s niece, a vet tech, who administered medication to temporarily relax the dog, and by sliding a towel beneath her four hours later, they were able to carry her downstairs as if on a stretcher. They wanted me to speak to her through the phone, feeling that her hearing my voice would calm her. Remember, Beverly called me in September identifying herself as a skeptic.
I went to their house the next day and sat with Boo, who was she was tired and almost ready but not yet. She showed me a picture of a twig beneath a lid, keeping the lid from closing completely, which I interpreted as “not yet. Soon, but not yet.” I gave her Reiki and kissed her head, knowing it would be the last time I would see her.
Monday night after Thanksgiving Debbie called to say Boo stopped eating and could not stand up at all. Wednesday night she called to tell me that with the help of the fire department (who could not turn down a request to help a dying Dalmatian), Boo was carried by stretcher to the car and driven to the vet’s office, where she was given the gift of leaving her body as she wished. Three months earlier, she clearly told us when and how she would exit and she kept her promise. Beverly’s wish was to do what Boo wanted, to be present when she left, and through the help of our sessions she was able to honor both her own and her dog’s wishes without trauma and fear.
Knowing her time was near, knowing Thanksgiving would be a significant day, softened the process for all involved. Boo lived three months longer than her human companion had initially planned, and in those three months was able to communicate her wishes, fears, and concerns and received loving care. We should all be so blessed in our own lives and transitions.
Two weeks later, I was asked back to work with Duke, the old Cocker Spaniel, to see how he handled the change in his living conditions. He said he wanted a cat for company. He had been aware of Boo’s illness and was unfazed by her departure because he, as a natural creature, understood the cycle of life and death.
At that meeting, Bev asked if I could tune in and reach Boo in spirit, which is possible only when the animal is willing, and Boo certainly was. She first professed her love for the human being who loved and tended to her for 11 years, and secondly, showed me a picture of boots and a bandana. I asked Bev,“What is the significance of boots and a bandana? Did she like these?” Bev replied, “NO! She HATED them! Those were the only two things she ever hated, the boots I bought her for the rain and the bandana she groomer put around her neck.” I thought it was so clever of Boo to save her complaints for the afterlife: what a lady she was, how polite, how gracious!