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Pets as a bereavement tool... and more


Cats Versus Dogs

What is a Cat?

1. Cats do what they want.
2. They rarely listen to you.
3. They are totally unpredictable.
4. When you want to play, they want to be alone.
5. When you want to be alone, they want to play.
6. They expect you to cater to their every whim.
7 They are moody.
8. They leave hair everywhere.

Conclusion: They are tiny little women in fur coats.

What is a Dog?

1. Dogs spend all day sprawled on the most comfortable piece of furniture in the house.
2. They can hear a package of food opening half a block away, but don't hear you when you're in the same room.
3. They can look dumb and lovable all at the same time.
4. They growl when they are not happy.
5. When you want to play, they want to play.
6. When you want to be alone, they want to play.
7. They leave their toys everywhere.
8. They do disgusting things with their mouths and then try to give you a kiss.
9. They go right for the crotch as soon as they meet you.

Conclusion: They are tiny little men in fur coats.

(Source: Love Your Pets Web site)

  Years before my late husband made his transition, he would joke over and over about our dog going with him. Quite often I believed he was serious. From the time we got Ranger as a puppy at only five weeks old, Ethan established himself as the dog's master. He kept the little black fur ball in a shoebox next to his side of the bed, and whenever he heard the puppy begin to stir or whine, he got right up and took him outside, no matter what time of night it was.

In this way the little dog picked up potty training without hardly any effort on our part, and as he grew Ranger was constantly at his master's side. They went everywhere together. When plowing snow, Ethan would tuck Ranger into one of his large coat pockets while riding on the tractor.

Because he was retired and I worked, Ethan stayed home with our dog and the two of them bonded in a special way. I suppose Ethan, at some point, actually believed the dog could not survive without him, should anything happen. He had me so convinced, I almost believed it too.

Through the years Ranger thrived as an important and much loved member of our small family. He had reached his maturity and was starting to show signs of aging by the time Ethan was stricken with a lung illness and had to go on oxygen. We knew eventually that Ethan's disease would lead to his passing.

During the course of the next two or three years, I saw further periods of decline in both dog and master. I noticed in the last few months, when my husband was mostly bedridden, that Ranger did little except lie morosely at Ethan's side, ever the devoted canine companion. He seemed to sense what lay ahead and he appeared to take it all in stride.  I began to wonder if what Ethan had been saying was true. Ethan would continue to joke as he struggled for each breath. "Well, old dog, it won't be long now before you and I turn toes up."

The fateful day arrived, and the dog and I were both present at the time of Ethan's passing on the evening of Sept. 12.  Much to my relief, Ranger did not go with him as Ethan had predicted. In fact, from that moment on, the dog bonded to me and acknowledged my role as new leader of his pack.

Ranger wanted to go everywhere with me and became an important protector, since I was living in a secluded area, far from town limits, and was vulnerable to all sorts of hazards.

Animals in our lives become extensions of ourselves. I know very few people who have never had some kind of pet in their lives. Animal companions can be truly beneficial to our well being, both physically and emotionally. Studies have shown that patients in nursing homes and assisted living situations have responded favorably when pets are present. My own mother, a victim of Alzheimer's disease, is bonded with an older cat who lives in her room and provides companionship and affection 24 hours a day. I don't know what it would do to her if the cat were suddenly gone from my mother's life.

I suppose that if it had been Ranger's choice, he might have departed along with his master when he left this world. But I think Ranger stayed to help me through my bereavement. I can't imagine how devastating it would have been had I lost both my husband and our dog at the same time.

Having pets in my life at the time of Ethan's transition, and even now — ten months later — has been a godsend to me because I was alone and not near family members or close friends. My pets put up with me and my crying spells, my abrupt mood changes, and they were always there to comfort me or distract me, whichever the need was at the time.

Because Ranger was so much Ethan's dog, I see my husband in his presence and it is my understanding that the dog actually "sees" his master when he comes around, which apparently is often. I like to believe that Ethan made Ranger promise to stick around a while longer, for my sake.

Unfortunately, dogs and cats have much shorter life spans than we humans do.  At nine and a half, Ranger has reached "retirement" age. Dogs of his breed and size generally don't live past 13 or 14. I know that the time we have left together is short, just as it was for Ethan and me. But we will try our best to make the time that is left joyful and memorable.

There are people I know who have lost pets that they loved so very much and were devastated when the animal died. In some cases their hearts were so broken that they decided not to have a pet ever again because it was just too painful a thing to go through. Well, I have had pets most my life, and I've lived through a lot of transitions with them. My cat "Mu" was 19 years old when she became deaf and blind and just a skeleton of the once mighty feline hunter who had gone camping with us. When I took her on her one-way trip to the vet's that day, my heart was heavy.  I eventually realized that it was a joyful day for her, being released from the bondage of a burdensome physical form.  In my mind's eye I could see her leaping through heavenly grass, ecstatic to be in her light body, chasing butterflies.

Pain and grieving are part of our experience here on Planet Earth. We cannot separate ourselves from those any more than we can stop breathing. By not risking our hearts by reaching out to another being, we rob our souls of that special reward of knowing unconditional love. Animals fill us with such joy and satisfaction, if we let them come into our lives to do what comes naturally to them... to give of themselves without asking much at all in return. What they give is love and a lasting friendship and growth of spirit that well exceeds the sorrow we fear at their passing.

I feel good about the ascension of our planet when I look around and see so many people interacting favorably with animals.  In esoteric literature our pets in the animal kingdom actually come from what is called the second density. We as humans are of the third density (as in 3D).

Someone asked a question of Ra, a spiritual entity at The Law of One Web site:

"You said that the second density strives toward the third density, which is the density of self-consciousness, or self-awareness. The striving takes place through higher second-density forms being invested by third-density beings. Could you explain what you mean by this?"

Ra answers the question in this way:

"I am Ra. Much as you would put on a vestment, so do your third-density beings invest or clothe some second-density beings with self-awareness. This is often done through the opportunity of what you call pets. It has also been done by various other means of investiture. These include many so-called religious practice complexes which personify and send love to various natural second-density beings in their group form."

The way we interact with our pets allows them to evolve into beings with higher consciousness. We give them a chance to understand what it is to live with humans, to experience our emotions, to give and receive love.

Another questioner at The Law of One Web site asked, "So more and more second-density entities are making it into third  density. Can you give me an example of a second-density entity coming into the third density in the recent past?"

Ra replies: "I am Ra. Perhaps the most common occurrence of second-density graduation during third-density cycle is the so-called pet. For the animal which is exposed to the individualizing influences of the bond between animal and third-density  entity, this individuation causes a sharp rise in the potential of the second density entity so that upon the cessation of physical  complex the mind/body complex does not return into the undifferentiated consciousness of that species, if you will."

Pets and therapy

There have been studies that show that pets have positive chemical effects on people. Tests show that within minutes of petting a dog, humans and dogs alike experience a massive release of beneficial hormones, such as prolactin, oxytocin and phenylethylamine.

Pet therapy in seniors diminishes emotional pain, physical pain, reduces boredom and anxiety, and generally makes people happy. Also, seniors who own dogs go to the doctor less often than those who don't own dogs. In a study of 100 Medicare patients, even the most highly stressed dog owners had a 21 percent lower level of physician contact than non-owners.

Medication costs dropped from an average of $3.80 per patient per day to $1.18 per patient per day when nursing homes allowed pets to be introduced into the environments. (Nursing homes in New York, Missouri and Texas were all used in the study.)

Children in homeless shelters or who are institutionalized benefit by having pets. Pet ownership teaches gentleness, caring, responsibility, and how to interact safely with an animal. Most importantly, it allows children to learn how to love a pet. In addition, children exposed to educational programs on the humane treatment of animals display enhanced empathy for humans compared with children not exposed to such programs.

(Source: Paws and Hearts Web site)

While pets are helping us by being naturally therapeutic, we are actually assisting them to graduate from second-level beings into more self-aware, self-conscious beings... almost like teaching them to be human. I once heard about the concept that a really devoted, loving dog spirit gets to evolve into a human being in its next incarnation. If that's true, well... Ranger certainly has a good start on his vocabulary... thanks to Ethan.

For more info: My dog lives in this house (a wonderful humorous essay)
For more info: When you bring a pet into your life, you begin a journey... (by Crystal Ward Kent)

Green Bay dog named pet therapy animal of the year (2007)

 Today's column is dedicated to my friend Terri in memory of her beloved and recently departed dog, Maggie.


  • Jim in Wisconsin 5 years ago

    Great topic and well written as always. We love our pets, they are truely family members. They give receive Love.

  • Jon in Nevada 5 years ago

    Since our kids have left the nest, our dogs and cats have taken their place. Our lives are much richer for having them. As a result, they have become quite pampered, but we don't mind a bit.

  • Hartmut in Perth 5 years ago

    I believe that each Soul starts from a low level and gradually rises to higher ones, via its many lives and experiences levels. Therefore, your and Ra's wise comments ring 100% true to me.
    They also urge that we should, and must, treat animals with kindness and respect because, as rising Souls, they are our equal brothers and sisters in Spirit.

  • Kim Carolan 5 years ago

    Wonderful article! All of my pets have acted the same way when death was near (my cat comforting my dying dog, my next dog comforting my dying father). Pets do make such a difference for our well-being. My husband calls our current dog his "blood pressure medicine"--petting him calms my husband down.

  • valerie benson 5 years ago

    I had a cat named " Bogie" after humfrey bogart. He was more like a dog. He came when I called his name and he was very loving and he was happy and dreamed alot. He was hit by a car. I was devastated. I had a dream about him and he talked to me in" English". I could see him far away in Switzerland. he was sunning himself in a window and the mountains were beautiful. he said that he loved me and that he was happy in his new home.