How to be Your Best Friend’s Best Friend

Last night a dear friend texted to get help with her brother’s dying dog who happened to be the sibling and litter mate of her own dog. She was worried about her dog as well as her brother’s and wanted to know how they were handling what was going on for them all.
When I went to speak to Sugar, the dog whose death from cancer was imminent, I got a huge wave of concern for my friend. I called her immediately and heard her confusion in what the focus of concern and help should be.
She had a lot going on, the death and possible pain of Sugar, the chance that this could happen to her own dog and her own concern for herself and her brother. A lot of emotional threads.
I think this is the thing I really do in animal communication. I listen for the threads and put them together in a way that soothes the humans involved. The vet had told them Sugar was not in pain, Sugar told me another story and said that this pain was not a big deal, she was ready to die and be away from the discomfort and, yes, pain that life was bringing her now. She was ready was her main theme.
Actually the most impacted was my friend’s dog who was apart from her, she is a nervous dog to begin with and her companion was emotionally torn and confused. Dogs can stand a lot. They have a resilience that boggles our minds and hearts. They are patient and forgiving beyond our wildest imaginations, but it is hard for them to have the people they look to as their chief focus be overwhelmed.
One of the best ways we can help our companions is to take a break, a breath, a walk. Do what they want for a few minutes a few times a day – walks, treats, a little panting never hurts. It could change us into being the humans they treat as if we already are.

Celebrating Life

Irma Rombauer – Joy Of Cooking – described a brownie recipe, “than which there are no others.” So was Pachi. Pachiquelitzli came to Paula in Monterrey, Mexico during a choreographic stay. She came out from between buildings as Paula was going to get on a bus to go to the studio. Her eyes were shut from infection and she was so young that Paula had to massage her belly to get her to pee and poop. She had a loud enough voice and life force to rise above the morning’s commuter noise and Paula’s determination to catch a bus in a large, foreign city.

And so it went for the most of seventeen years. Determination, power in the Now, guidance minute by minute in letting go – the singing bowl, the wedding present vase, the special doll and on – in embracing the new, the here – each new kitten, each comrade, each death duly noted, accommodated, praised.

Paula named her from the native language she emerged and came to us. Pachequilitzli means Guide, and she has lived her name. Showing us the spirit in the name, the heart. She has been a tiny cat. Looking like a kitten, never weighing more than six pounds, she ruled our household, all of us without exception. Yesterday, at her physical end she weighed three pounds. And just a little over two months ago a tomcat was beating up our Niki, who Pachi raised. I opened the door to yell and Pachi raced outside to the middle of the driveway where she stood on her hind feet and moved very fast forward boxing and yowelling to chase the Tom away. He retreated and Niki came inside. I lept out to get Pachi and endured some of the rath the Tom was to receive.

There is no way to endure her loss, only celebrating her life and remembering her teachings will do. She purred and curled up with me to the end and now the heavens ring with her purr and we have the legacy her strength forever.

Bone of the Horse

Bone Of The Horse

My nose is tender

His lips are rare

Our soul is content

We are one together

Hoof to hoof hands high

We thrust our hips into the sun

His big fine neck and my skin

We are so hairy in the day

So alike underneath

Where the belly thrusts and the skin

Shifts weight from foot to hoof

I am here and he is whole

Strokes of luck of genius

Separate us recover us

Bathed in the same light

We walk hand in hand

Esme – Greyhound Friend She rescued me when I rescued her

Today, Monday, is the last time – at 4:30 pm – that I’ll

Be able to say, “last week Esme was…”

My heart is a landslide of rubble, scary places, bad footing.

Now, this day, this minute a week ago I was lying next to her

I was taking her head in my hand, I was feeling her pulse

Her breath, her eyes on me. I felt her limbs be cold in an odd way.

I won’t forget that. I felt her warm belly. I felt her warm ears

And her cold nose and I thought and thought breathing with her

As I was, breathing without thinking of breath, or that thing that rhymes with it.

That point on the trajectory of each life that seeks level, that is level.

Everything else is up and down, hot and cold, short and long.

But death is a flat line. Death is a long time. Death is No More.

Today, Monday, it is 1:45pm. I didn’t know. I had no clue.

When I put her in my car she was breathing. It never occurred to me

She would stop. Or anything. Nothing much was occurring – and everything.

Halfway there I knew. I kept driving. But I knew.

And didn’t wouldn’t couldn’t know – no.

A week ago right now I had no clue. What a blessing.

Her life was a blessing. She blessed me. Her every move

Her looks – they were “come hither” and I did

I can’t bear to put a period with these sentences

Time will tell

Time is telling me

This is Monday, it is almost 2

I still have 2 ½ hours left

And I don’t even know it

Pam White


I was so engulfed in your death

So overcome with it – the grief, the sudden

Emptiness, goneness, I forgot to look

Through your eyes at the love

You always showed me, shared with me

I forgot to feel your heart, the expansiveness, the joy

Of your surrender. I forgot to see who

Was doing all that, who was really there.

It was just us. We two. And we

Are still, as long as I remember

To look through your eyes

Feel with your heart

Breathe, embrace with your spirit.

It always was the only way to go and

It remains so.

It Was When My Dog Esme Died That….

It was when my dog Esme died that I realized I am a lonely person. Watching the early morning sun on the grass a few days after her sudden death of a heart attack – my heart feels so empty, in a complete way. Not a just lost my dog way. I realize she filled some hole in me emblematic of a manhole cover. She was a strong cover to an unexplored emptiness in me. An emptiness unnamed and without known depth.

When I was young loneliness was lack of human contact, a Saturday night without a date, was not admitting to any needs or lacks. I got over that. Learned to fake it, always have a mate, face the facts, not the fears, not the unknown.  As I write I am surrounded by cats. They never run out of things to do. They never need you to take them for a walk, they would never ask for your company. They will ask for treats, food and the litter changed, but they are self-sufficient beyond my understanding of the meaning of the word. As much as my cat understands my needs and will always materialize and sit with me all day when I am sick or, in this case, lonely. It’s a companionship.

Esme was on my time. She had her needs, yes, but her focus was on what I was doing and could she fit in it or not. If not, she lay on her bed or outside completely happy – it seemed to me. She was not nervous without me, she was whole.  I, on the other hand, was busy or available. When I was busy I knew she was happy, adjusted, doing her thing. As it happened she never peed or pooped in the house, never ate what wasn’t hers and only chewed furniture when my life was miserable.

Her perfection may have masked my weakness. It certainly made life with her easy. On the leash you hardly knew she was there – no tugs just easy pace, whatever I set. Off leash, her life was hers and she took her hikes, dazzling me with the beauty and ease of her run – even though I may have been calling her to come back I secretly admired her flight.

I grew up alone and dogs and horses were where I put my heart.  All those photos and paintings of children and animals are on the mark, animals are where it’s at.  Esme was like the dog in the Norman Rockwell painting you have your arm thrown around. It looks so casual, but it’s not. It’s dead serious. This is an important relationship. She was the softest dog, the quietest, the most beautiful, the most rare.

I once had the pleasure of living with a cat I named Peaches. I named her Peaches because on the top of her head was the outline of a peach seed. People would ask me, “is that unusual?” The outline of a peach seed? On every cat you’ll see. She was no different. They are all the softest, rarest, most beautiful. That’s why we love them so much.  Why they love us is the subject of another writing.

Esme introduced herself to me through love, at the death of my soul dog Zoe.  Zoe told my wife Paula that she would send Esme when I was ready.  After three months I found myself looking at Greyhound rescue sites online. I called one of the shelters and asked was there a dog they weren’t showing. Yes, there was, but she had just been returned by a family where she was biting the children and she wasn’t ready in their mind to go to another family, and yes, we had children but they were 12 and 13.

We went to the shelter that day – no easy feat, we lived on Martha’s Vineyard and it meant finding a ferry over and back – but they were available and so off we went to Mendon, Massachusetts. At the shelter a white dog was brought in, and another dog followed unbidden. I looked at the white one, asked her, “are you Esme,” she came and stood beside me. She never left.

You’re wondering about the other one? He climbed – all ninety-five pounds of him on Paula’s lap (she’s 120) – and that was that. We had four dogs.  Esme focused on me like it was her job, and I believe it was. It’s hard to know what to do, how to explore what’s left, how to have what’s here, how to let go of what’s gone.

Gordie Helped Me Be My Best Self

Gordie Helped Me Be My Best Self

Not because she was quiet and good, Gordie helped me because she was expressive and powerful and her bark could break glass.

When she first came to us at age ten, just spade with her stitches newly sewn, she was guarded and inventive. She was not inquisitive or careless. When we gave her food, she would eat a little then bury the rest – yes, in the house, I’m not talking holes in the yard! She was afraid and alert. She had just had her last eight babies in Cadiz where she had been taken to a kill shelter. She had probably had 80 or more puppies in her life at that moment.

In Cadiz the Spanish government had set up shelters to take unwanted dogs to be killed. Our contact, Greyhound Friends in Hopkinton, MA had just made an agreement to set up an organization to deal with the problem of people harming their dogs in unimaginable ways when they were “through” with them. A man in Cadiz, named Jesus, called his newly acquired contact in Hopkinton in the early morning Hopkinton time, to say he had come to the shelter and was supposed to kill a hundred healthy dogs. He couldn’t.

Our Gordie was one of them and probably the eldest. Wraith thin she was called “Gorda” (fat in Spanish) because she was so pregnant) John, in Hopkinton got a plane to Spain that morning and, once on the ground, he managed to get a lot of people organized to find homes for all the dogs – whose number had increased by Gordie’s eight puppies.

A few dogs came to this country – we have Cho, who is fourteen now. Gordie was the flagship dog, and the rest all got homes in Spain. Taking her home from Hopkinton I sat in the back seat with her and as I held her I heard myself tell her that I would never let anything negative happen to her again. There would be moments of contrast, of transition but there would be no indecision, no wavering or vacillation, no equivocation, her needs would come first – always.

So there I was, in the back seat, setting myself on a course whose path I knew nothing about. It’s something we do casually and sometimes we give it some thought – but we can never know, we can never even guess. When we get married, pregnant, adopt a child, a dog, rescue something, there is always that wondrous gift of Chance.  Gordie gave me that.

Now that she is gone I have to keep on doing my life but I don’t have to be the same. I can’t stop everything to commemorate Gordie’s death or her life, I can’t stop eating and crying, laughing, working, taking care of the other Beings in my care, but I can resonate with the lessons she taught, I can be moved and changed and carry her with me in my life.