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Showing posts from 2009

Why I Chose Animals

I suppose my mother had something to do with me loving animals. From the time I was five, she was bringing home creatures small enough to go undetected in our Brooklyn apartment: turtles, tortoises, and a half-moon parrot with whom I bonded so deeply that the memories of having to give him up (I had severe allergies) still fly at me like unwelcome shards of glass. I remember crying in the back seat of the car, my father double-parked with the engine running while my mother returned the bird to the pet shop. When she came back outside, she was holding a large tortoise, waving it at us, a permission seeking gesture for my father, who banged his hand on the steering wheel and yelled, "Goddamn it, Rhoda!" But we won. The tortoise came home with us. The parrot story goes deeper than simple loss of an amusing companion (which is never simple, anyway). At the time, I was five and silently enduring molestation at the hands of my paternal grandfather. I won't delve into the psych

Our Year in Pictures

A couple of tearful farewells (Gracie and Frenchie), a grand welcoming (Luinigh), continued rollicking and frolicking (Ingrid and Baby), some souful dialogues with my four-footed clients, new personal frontiers, longer embraces with Spirit, and a whole lotta love. Steven & Luinigh Baby Luinigh My Little Frenchman Ingrid Gracie

What is That Black Cat with Wings?

I am currently enrolled in a 16 hour Hospice volunteer training program with the intent to serve as a Reiki and pet therapy volunteer. The first six hours of training consisted of five units covering the dying process, volunteer parameters, caregiver roles, special populations, and legal and organizational procedures. In a session often punctuated by our own personal, sometimes emotional disclosures, Ann, the Volunteer Director, softened the clinical descriptions of "the death journey" with poignant patient anecdotes from her own experience and Hospice literature, revisiting the phenomenon of fading earthly consciousness teetering between worlds as we prepare to die. Patients, open eyed but not fully present, often enter audible conversation with loved ones who passed on before them. Debbie, my friend of 40 years, described her fascination watching her father just before he died; he stared into space and engaged in animated dialogue with his mother, who had died fifty years p

Why Learn Reiki?

I took my first Reiki class in 1989 at the urging of a nurse friend who had seen a Reiki demonstration and wouldn’t rest until we both went for training. She was enthralled with what she explained as a very stunning demonstration she'd seen. She said the practitioner held one hand in the air (much like the Magician in the Ride-Waite tarot deck) with one hand placed on his client and just commanded that Reiki energy. She was impressed by his showmanhip, which left me feeling a bit skeptical. However, because I was bored, I agreed to go to a Reiki training class. I didn’t know quite why I was going but trusted it would be one more metaphysical class that may have potential benefits. At the time, I didn't didn't see myself as a "healer" but as a "psychic" ( I have since learned that the latter is dreadfully incomplete without the former). On a dismal Saturday afternoon, I took a deep breath and paid my hundred and fifty dollars and went to this class whi

The Little Frenchman

He came to me unexpectedly at a time when I already lived with two dogs in a development that allowed only two dogs. In her capacity as the Broward County Animal Control veterinaray technician who had to euthanize those too weak for adoption, my neighbor would bring home borderline cases . She would nurse them back to adoptable health and in the late afternoons would sit on her front lawn with anywhere from two to five kittens or puppies, hoping passersby would stop, fall in love, and bring one home. This was the case when I came home from work one spring 1998 afternoon. I looked down the street (she lived about ten houses away) for her usual menagerie romping around her German Shepherds but this time, it was different. Bat ears and a squat body cast a spell that levitated me. "Whatcha got there?"I yelled. "Boston?" Her reply changed my life for the next ten years. "No, FRENCHIE!" I mystically flew to her front yard . A Frenchie! "Look at his ches

That Lucid Moment

I was in PetsMart the other day browsing collars for my dogs, two pretty strong Irish Water Spaniels. As I was looking for heavier nylon martingale collars, a pink flash yanked me upward to a delicate ribbon of a collar perhaps half an inch wide decorated with sewed-on multicolor rosettes. I touched the collar and thought, " I'd have bought Gracie this one" and surrendered to insistent tears. Gracie left us a few months ago and still, nightly when I shut the overhead kitchen light, I turn on the small utility stove light for her, as I did every night when she was alive, and announce to the spaniels, "Let's leave the light on for Gracie." Then the three of us exit the dimly lit room and go upstairs. I once bought her a pink rhinestone collar and told her they were diamonds. She believed me. Then about four years ago the great folks at Bark Avenue Mall gifted us with a beautiful crocheted pink collar and leash set adorned with large plastic "gemstones.&

God's Covenant with Animals in the Old Testament

What is our human responsibility to the earth and its non-human inhabitants? Traditional Biblical scholars would say one of master-servant and ecologists would say one of caretaker. However, using either frame, neither movement has responded in full view of the evidence presented throughout the Bible that God clearly included animals in covenantal relationships with Biblical scholars neglecting the sanctity of animals and secular environmentalists neglecting God. A closer look at the Old Testament reveals that God designed humankind’s role in relation to the animals as one of stewardship rather than domination. Traditionally religious people often cite Scripure justify a master/servant relationship between humans and animals rather than one of partnership, but deeper investigation invites us to see texts rich with references, both literal and figurative, to the partnership between humankind and the animal world. From Genesis through Prophets and Wisdom Literature, the writers of the Ol

Gracie Shaw, 5/21/94 - 2/25/09

It was time. She knew so, the vet said so, I thought so. I drew Reiki symbols over her head, stroked her side as the valium lured her out of anxious pacing into peaceful slumber, willing and needing to depart (it was time, it was ), and now I celebrate the life of this once feisty little Schnauzer who came to me like an angel 15 years ago and led me through crisis into clarity with her zest, her verve, her love. Ciao, Grazia. You were aptly named.


When? I'm living with two ailing senior dogs for whom special care is routine. I cook bland, grain-free poultry dishes for Frenchie, whose deteriorating spinal malformation required serious weight loss -- under his vet's orders, I had to take him from 23 pounds to 19 (at last weigh in he was under that). His disorder has caused paresis, rendering him unable to walk without his rear legs sliding out from under him. The slightest stress causes frequent urinary and occasional fecal incontinence. He has always been my little sidekick, following me from room to room, and now I sometimes forget that he can't, so when I leave the room for more than a minute, he breaks into wild howls and yodels, what Frenchie people know as "the French bulldog scream." He has slept next to me for the ten years I have lived with him. Once a week or so I am awakened by a mess in the bed....a very unsavory mess with omission-worthy details. From the waist up he's joyful, hungry, alert,