Tag Archives: Pets

July 16 – Do Gerbils Go to Heaven?

by Kali´Rourke 

Girl Feeding Gerbil

(c) Can Stock Photo / zsv3207

Our Pastor told a story in his recent sermon, and in it, a little boy’s hamster had died and he asked his father (a fellow Pastor) if “Timmy” had gone to heaven. The boy was told in no uncertain terms by his father that nothing that has not professed faith in Jesus Christ shall enter the gates of heaven. I am paraphrasing, but you get the gist.

We were all a bit appalled to hear that blunt and dismissive statement from a father to a grieving son, and our Pastor said that he took the little boy aside on his way out and told him that Timmy sounded like a great hamster and he was sure that he was now playing in heaven.

Sounds like a platitude, doesn’t it?

I think of it as a large part of my faith. If I choose to believe in a benevolent God that loves all of us and wants the best for us, then I also choose to believe that all creatures, (even the series of gerbils we had for our daughters since there were allergic to nearly everything else) are destined for heaven. No, I am not a theologian and would never claim to be one!

Our daughters have both grown up into animal lovers (Thank you antihistamines!) and they could not imagine a heaven where Minx, Indy, and Cloud and whatever companions they may have over the years will not come running to greet them in doggy and kitty joy someday when they are all together again.

This brings me back to gerbils and heaven.

Yes, they are shorter lived creatures than our canine and feline companions, and yes, the bond is much shallower, but each of our gerbils over the years had names, were petted and cared for and we had small funerals for our little friends when they passed from this life, wishing them well and many chew toys in their heavenly home.

Their passings were somewhat gentle introductions for our little girls to the concept of death and how we must accept and respect it because it comes to everyone in time. They were the opening to important conversations and knowledge that parents pass on to their children.

The gerbil’s names and specifics have escaped me, brushed cloudy by the passing of so many years, but today I take a moment and say a prayer for all of them, sending it along with thanks for being such wonderful little friends to two girls who grew up to be compassionate women who have room in their hearts to love and care for many.

God bless the gerbils.

Kali´Rourke is a wife, mother, writer, singer, volunteer, philanthropist, and a proud Seedling Mentor. She blogs at Kali’s Musings and A Burning Journey – One Woman’s Experience with Burning Mouth Syndrome. This post originally appeared in Kali’s Musings.

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April 13 – Our Magical Goodbye Walk

by Lorna Earl

I was sickened with grief.

My canine companion, a scruffy three-year-old Terrier mix I adopted, died suddenly when he slipped his collar and ran into traffic. He was thirteen years old. The last time I felt as lost, abandoned, and downright empty was when my husband left me. He’s still alive.

Phil, my fiancé, tried to keep me busy, but he was grieving, too. We were a sorry pair. He was worried that my chronic fatigue symptoms would flare from the stress. So was I. I thought about scientific articles correlating pet ownership to health. How ironic. I took extra medication to help me sleep.

Fearing depression and an inflamed immune system malaise, I woke knowing I had to pull myself back from the hole into which I was falling. The hole in my heart.

I laid in bed and asked myself, “How can a hole feel so damned heavy?” Irony was everywhere.

I reached over and poked Phil. He stirred.

“I’m going for a walk,” I said.

This was an act of courage because every morning I took Scrappy for a walk and this walk would be solo.

“Do you want me to come with you?”

“No, I have to do this alone.”

“Okay. Just be careful.” It was dark, raining, and windy. Phil worries about me.

“I will. I just need to do this.”

And I did. Armed with my rain gear and a handful of tissues, I headed off into the pre-dawn darkness. That’s when I started talking aloud to Scrappy. First, I told him how sorry I was for not protecting him from harm.

“I hope your soul left before you felt any pain, Buddy. After you rest a bit, I bet you’ll be running and exploring with the best of them wherever you are.”

Second, I talked about our journey together and how maybe he knew it was time that I travel alone. We met when we were both abandoned souls, teaching each other about trust.

“I’ll always love you, Scrap. Thank you so much for being right there with me through those tough days. Remember when it was just you and me?”

Finally, I told him about how I was strong enough to walk alone.

“You were my brave and perfect companion but you don’t need to protect me anymore. It’s your time to do what you want.”

When I said this last declaration to him three things happened simultaneously:  The pelting rain stopped instantaneously; the wind that kept blowing the hood off my head died down to nothing; and the grief-grip on my heart released.

I smiled, knowing that my independent pal finally understood something I said. We spoke soul-to-soul and he got the message.

His sparkling love now fills my heart, effervescent and light. Do I miss him? Sure I do. But on our magical Goodbye Walk, something shifted and he was with me in a new way.

We still walk together every morning . . . in that new way.

Lorna was a sociology professor. Creative writing is her new path since her premature disability retirement due to Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome. She has written two self-published books: a memoir and a historical fiction novel. Lorna has been blogging since 2010 at Lorna’s Voice.

May 25 – Meeting Juno

By Patricia Roop Hollinger

“Juno, SIT!”

Juno sat.

“Juno, give me a paw.”

Juno gave Brayden a paw.

“Juno, give me a high-five.”

Yep! Juno could do that one also.

Who is this Juno, you wonder? He is a keeshond that my great-grandson, Brayden, recently became the proud owner of. Juno is a wiggly, snuggly, loving ball of gray fur that no one could resist in spite of wet sloppy licks on the face. Love in its purest form.

Brayden’s Oma, Beate, shared her love of cats and dogs with Brayden when he arrived from the womb. It is evident that he and his pets speak the same language. The language of love pure and simple.

Juno is just another great-grandchild for me, as is Brayden. “No,” I do not object to revealing that I have entered into the realm of great grandparenthood. It is a privilege and honor. Especially when folks tell me: “But you don’t look old enough to be a great-grandmother.”

Brayden’s grandfather, Michael, was my son who was also a lover of a keeshond named Dogen. They were inseparable. Especially when Michael suffered from chronic pain from a work related injury. Dogen was the most potent medication for pain relief during that saga.

Brayden was born 2007 and Michael died 2009; thus memories are mostly through stories and photos of the grandfather who would have loved to have known him.

The reader can only imagine my delight when I saw photos on Facebook of Brayden and Juno eyeing each other lovingly when they met at the BWI airport. I knew then that Michael had a spiritual hand in this occurrence. Thus, my delight when I met Juno and Brayden luxuriating in their delight with each other. Michael had joined us in a most profound way.

Today I found a photo of Michael with Dogen and mailed it to Brayden with the following words:

“Brayden, your granddad Michael with his keeshond Dogen,
Greets you with this loving slogan.

He wants you to know he watches you and Juno.
It makes him so happy that is makes him just glow.

Your missing front tooth, Yep! He knows about that too,
that you count to 100….and play T-ball;
there isn’t much he doesn’t know about you.

Give Mom and Dad some hugs and kisses,
For being with them he so much misses.”

Patricia Roop Hollinger is a retired Chaplain/Pastoral Counselor/LCPC after employment at Brook Lane Health Services, a mental health facility, after 23 years. Lover of nature, gardening, cats. Pursuing her love of reading and writing since retirement.

May 11 – Mother’s Day 1994

by Mary Jo Doig

mary jo cat

I trudge from the old farmhouse, my slender arms embracing a worn cardboard box as a light drizzle is misting my bifocals, causing me to look out at a blurred world. On this, my final trip down the hill, I reflect that when Don and I said our vows more than two decades ago, we didn’t know that until death do us part might also mean the death of the relationship.

When I reach the stone wall, I turn sideways and step slowly down the broad stone steps placed more than a century ago by Scotch settlers. As I slide the final box of necessities into my car, I’m startled by a loud imploring meow. There, near my feet stands Harriet, one of the barn cats, whose long hair has, over time, become a massive tangle of burrs and knots. You look like I feel, Harriet, I muse.

The question spills from my mouth before it even forms in my mind. “Do you want to come with me, Harriet?” I say, reaching down to gently scratch her head, She—never in a car in her life to the best of my knowledge—jumps in, meowing loudly.

“Okay,” I say as I slide in the driver’s seat and turn to look at her, “we’ll take this trip together.” As I drive, the car quickly fills with the pungent odor inside the sagging barn behind us. I glance at her wide, apprehensive lime-green eyes, knowing how much she will hate her first bath. Perhaps it’s best that she doesn’t know what lies ahead.

At my new apartment, in tepid water, she squirms desperately to escape. Afterward I carefully cut away walnut-sized fur knots. Moments later she vanishes into the apartment and I do not see her again for three days.

A few months later the vet confirms Harriet’s pregnancy. “Just one kitten,” he says, adding, “and that’s unusual.” I smile, noting her bald places are filling with new growth. Her coat is shinier. She’s more peaceful.

I think: Harriet, the courage you gathered to leave all that was familiar is beginning to show good results.

_____

 

Unexpectedly, the night before a painful Mother’s Day, I wake to find Harriet in the circle of my arm. Odd, I muse hazily, she always sleeps at my feet. Then I hear her breathing and suddenly, in awe, understand she’s in labor.

Wide awake now, I lay still in this darkest of nights, accepting Harriet’s clear invitation to share her miracle. When I hear a soft whimper, I know the new kitten has arrived.

Then I hear Harriet giving the newborn her first bath. With the lightest of touch, I stroke the kitten’s tiny forehead, desiring to communicate a wondrous, warm welcome to the world. I feel the kitten move and intense joy surges into my heart as I whisper, “All is well, Harriet.”

_____

 

I named Harriet’s kitten Hilary. Today she turns 20. Happy Birthday, my sweet Hilary!

In 2000 Mary Jo resigned from a former career in the Catskill Mountains and moved 500 miles to a tiny cabin in the woods of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains where she knew virtually no one. There, re-inventing her life, she lived in solitude for two years and began writing the stories of her life, many that are woven into the memoir she’s currently working on.  

Hilary thought it was a very long ride to Virginia, but she enjoyed the trip once she was released from the cat carrier. She also absolutely loves spending her own retirement in Virginia’s warm and wonderful climate.

July 17 – Star

by Juliana Lightle

horse

The phone rings.

“Star’s dead. There’s blood everywhere.  He’s hanging from the gate. Blood is all over Rosie’s face. It’s dreadful.”

A tear choked voice. “You can’t bring D’mitri home.”

D’mitri’s nine. Star belongs to him.  Shock, tears, disbelief. Last night he ran, bucked, reared, chased around, playing. How? The pen’s all pipe, no sharp edges,  nothing harmful, consistently inspected.

D’mitri goes home with me.

He says, “Nana, I have to see him; I have to know what happened.”

Slowly, in dread, we walk behind the barn.  Star’s hanging by one hoof in the three inch space between the gate and fence, ankle broken. The blood covered fence, gate, and ground stare at me.  It’s hot, his body’s stiff.  He must be moved.
The coyotes will come in the night, drawn by the smell of blood, of death.

The neighbor brings his big , red tractor; a wench pulls Star’s young body free,
and gently lays him on the cold, grey, barn floor. His shining copper coat no longer shines. D’mitri and I remember bottle feeding him after Miracle died, teaching him to lead. We stare at Star’s body in disbelief.

Kindly, the neighbor says, “He died quick, femoral artery cut by bone, bled out.”

For hours, Rosie and Cool stand at the spot where Star died. They do not even leave to eat alfalfa. It takes me hours to wash away the blood. It took D’mitri ten months to go back to the barn, to ride Rosie again.

Juliana lives on the edge of a canyon in the Panhandle of Texas, teaches high school, raises horses, sings, entertains friends, xeroscape gardens, and wanders the wild. She is currently working on a book of poetry and essays she plans to get published before the year’s end.

January 27 – The Fork in the Road


by Pat Bean

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”–Neale Donald Walsch

It was a sunny day in 2004, just three weeks before I would retire from a 37-year career as a journalist, when I drove a brand new RV off an Ogden, Utah, sales lot. It felt like the butterflies in my stomach had developed thorns on their fragile wings.

Everything that had been a part of my past life was about to change. I had just blocked off all chances of remaining rooted in my small, but cozy home that sat in the shadows of the Wasatch Mountains I loved. There simply was not enough money in my future to both fulfill my lifelong dream of living and traveling on the road while maintaining fixed roots within a circle of friends that had taken over 20 years to acquire.

This day I had not only chosen the unknown road that lay ahead, but had wrapped my choice in cement. I had even traded in my Honda Odyssey as part payment for the undersized, 22-foot RV that was now my only form of transportation, and soon would be my only home.


By the time all the paper work giving me title to the 2004 Volkswagen Vista/Winnebago had been scrutinized, signed and finalized, it was early evening. I was too unsettled to take my purchase for a check-out spin. So, feeling tall and strange sitting behind the wheel with my new living, dining, sleeping, cooking and bathroom facilities behind me, I drove home. Emotional turmoil, good or bad, always sapped my energy.

On carefully pulling into my driveway, testing the wideness needed to turn my new RV, I heard frenzied barking from inside the house. It was how my dog, Maggie, reacted to the sound of strange vehicles invading her territory. She never barked when I returned home, nor did she at any of my frequent visitors. But she did not recognize this new vehicle.


When I opened the door, Maggie gave me a quizzical look of surprise. Then, realizing in a split second that something new was parked in the driveway, she dashed between my legs and ran out to explore.

I opened the RV’s side door and she eagerly hopped in. She slowly sniffed every surface she could get at, then finally hopped up onto the couch and gave me a look that I easily interpreted as: So where are we going? To explore America, the beautiful, I reply. I always answer my dog’s inquiring looks. .

And that’s how my my travels with Maggie began. It’s been a journey that’s now heading into its eighth year. And I still have nary a regret.

Pat Bean is a wandering/wondering old broad who is beginning her eighth year of full-time RV-ing with her canine traveling companion, Maggie. She is passionate about writing, nature, books and birds and writes a daily blog.

September 30 – When Caroline Met Harry


by Carol Ziel

Harry had been rattling around the neighborhood for a couple of months. He was a slightly feral cat with a whole lot of personality. One steamy autumn afternoon I heard a knock on my door. There he was. He had a real heavy paw for a young cat. He meowed engagingly, clearly having some kind of agenda. I shooed him away but within a couple of minutes there was another knock. It was Harry. I shooed him again. Within a few minutes there was a knock on my back door. It was him. I explained that I was not in the market for any kind of relationship. My daughter had moved home with a 3-year-old boy and two old lady cats. I already had a blind dog.

He looked up at me soulfully. I’d seen that look on any number of guy friends over the years, and recognized it for what it was–he wanted something that I had. I thought I had the situation well under control but I was wrong. I told him that if he was on my front porch when I came home from work at 1:00a.m., I would consider taking our relationship to the next level. He was only a cat. What were the chances, really?

It was close to 1:00 a.m. when I pulled up to the curb in my cronemobile . As I opened the storm door, I heard that meow. There he was perched on a porch cushion like he was the king of everything. Shameless opportunist that he was, he swished his tail, flicked his ears and walked in while I stood there in shocked silence. He is still with me, urgently engaged in establishing himself at the top of the pecking order.

I have to say that this is one of my more successful relationships. He comes and goes as he chooses, curls up for a cuddle on occasion, and communicates his wants and needs vigorously. I never have to wonder what is going on in that furry little mind, and as the Grand Dame of the household, I still hold the trump card.

Caroline Ziel is a 62-year-old grandmother, gardener, and social worker, hailing from the heart of MIssouri. She have been a member of SCN for about two years and has grown exponentially with the support of her writing circle and the SCN community.