Yesterday I went to a nearby river for my Beltaine celebration and ritual. It was a profound experience on many levels but even more so because of an extraordinary moment with a man and his dog.
The experience started before I left home, as I prepared my offerings for the ritual. Then, several times, I started to leave… but each time I heard a message “not yet”. I’ve learned to listen to my intuition, so each time I waited and did a few other things. Eventually, I heard “now”, so headed out to a favourite riverside location, knowing there was a reason for the timing.
I wandered along the river’s edge until I found the perfect spot, nestled between the river and some dense foliage, with several large driftwood logs where I could sit and prepare an impromptu altar for my ritual and my offerings.
After I completed my ritual, I sat for a few moments breathing in the fresh air, listening to the birds and feeling the warmth of the sun on my face —a rarity recently! And still wondering why Spirit had asked me to delay my ritual, but also accepting that I might never know.
But then I felt a shift in the energy around me, accompanied by strong emotions of grief and pain and love… a poignant and puzzling combination. I looked down the beach and saw a man and his dog approaching me, slowly walking along the river’s edge, stopping every few moments as the dog rested, and ventured gently into the water.
As they came toward me, I saw that the dog had a huge swelling around the knee on one of her forelegs. I could feel her profound physical pain. It came in waves toward me. I wanted to reach out and hug them both.
The man asked if he could take a seat on the log, saying “I don’t think she can walk much further.” And I, of course, agreed. She rested between us on the sand, and I felt an immediate connection with her. I reached out and (checking energetically that it was “safe and appropriate to do so”) gently placed my hand on her head.
Man: She doesn’t do that anymore, sit with strangers. Or allow them to touch her. She used to.
Me: I’m glad she did today. She’s a beautiful dog. Do you mind if I ask… how is she handling the pain?
Man (surprised I asked the question): It’s gotten much worse. She has bone cancer…. This is our last walk together…. We’re going to the vet after this…. I can’t let her suffer anymore.
Me: And you’re giving her a very special last day.
Man: Yeah… steak for breakfast… steak for lunch… and now her favourite place to play and catch a ball. She loves to splash in the river.
While we were talking, I could feel the dog’s energy all the time… her pain… her profound love for her human companion… her grief that she was leaving him alone… and I could sense she wanted me to communicate her feelings to him. This was an extraordinary situation, as the man hadn’t sought my help in his dog’s transition.
Or had he? Something brought us together in this place at a time when both he and his companion needed gentle and loving support.
I checked in again and got the message that it was okay to share.
So I said, “If your dog could talk, I think I know what she’d want to say to you.” I shared the messages from his companion… her love for him, how much she loved their adventures together, especially their treks in the mountains, how much she loved all the special things he had done for her on this day… and how sad she was to say goodbye. But that it was time for her to go. Now.
I didn’t know what to expect… I didn’t know how he’d respond. But he looked at me, slightly puzzled, and said “I don’t know how you know all that… but thank you for telling me.”
He looked down at his sweet dog and picked her up, cradling her in his arms. “Time to go.”
As he stood up to leave, I did too and asked if it was okay to say goodbye to her. He nodded yes, so I placed my hand on her head again… and silently communicated my farewell, how loved she was, letting her know her transition would be peaceful and that soon she’d be running through the fields again on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge.
I looked at him and said “You’ll be okay. And she knows what you’re doing for her…. it’s okay. She’s ready. It’s the right thing to do.”
I stayed for a while on the beach as he walked away, carrying his dog, and felt the shift in their energies. The physical pain and the love were still there… but I felt the emotional pain had lessened. I could feel release… acceptance… peace.
I’m grateful that the Universe brought me to that place at that time. I’ve been a “death doula” for friends and their companion animals before, but this was different. This man had not sought me out… had not invited me to help him with his private pain… had not invited me to support his companion in her transition… but I was able to give some support to them both just when it was needed. And maybe he just needed someone to talk to that day, as he prepared himself and his companion for their final journey together.
To me, this was a miracle… and a profound spiritual experience. I pulled out my Goddesses again and placed them on the driftwood… and meditated with them for a while after this moment.
Thank you, Goddess.