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I dreamed of Pharaoh last night, and I know, at least in part, why.  Pharaoh was my black lab/goden retriever who is now buried in the back yard beneath a Sacred Heart rose bush and a weeping willow sprout.

Back in 2001, when I was getting divorced from husband number two who couldn’t stand animals, the kids and I decided that when we moved into our own apartment, we’d get one cat and one dog.  Their names came to us before they did.  We knew we’d name the cat Isis, the dog Pharaoh.  We knew they’d be rescues.

As soon as we’d settled into our new apartment, we went down to the animal shelter and asked for a list of all the animals that were due to be put down that day.  We went from cage to cage asking, “Are you Pharaoh?” Naturally, some of the dogs barked and yelped and panted… it’s like animals know when their time at the shelter is over and what’s coming.  Some of the dogs were terminally ill, some were badly wounded (as in missing an eye).  We wouldn’t have minded taking a “handicapped” dog, but the ones we saw weren’t “Pharaoh”.  We just knew.  I left the boys looking for dogs while Stinkerbelle and I went to visit the cats, following the same procedure, cage to cage: “Are you Isis?”

The boys came running to me in full-on excitement.  “We found him, Mom! We found him!”

I walked with the boys back to the dog kennel as they led me to Pharaoh’s cage.  On the cage, a sign written on a red, cut-out heart that said, “Huge heart.”  I looked into the cage, the dog looked back at me, and I asked, “Are you Pharaoh?”  The dog barked a “Yes”.  He was already an old guy, but had so much love left in him to give.  As we left the shelter with him, I said, “Pharaoh, come…” and he did.  I said, “Pharaoh, sit…” And he did.  He obediently answered every command I issued and did not require a leash.

Pharaoh lived with us in our apartment for seven months, during which time we’d suffered a major car accident.  My eldest son was badly wounded and was forced to home-school for the remainder of that school year (this was before we started homeschooling permanently).  Pharaoh stayed by that boy’s side and looked after him with vigilence.  He was our guardian, our guide, and our friend.

He loved car rides, which was wonderful, because we soon decided to move to Tulsa and took him along for the journey.  He loved Tulsa, with the exception of the abundant fleas and tick’s Tulsa offered.  However, in Tulsa, he had a major incident.  I woke one morning and found him convulsing, foaming at the mouth.  We rushed him to the emergency room to find out he’d had a spinal condition where his back bone was literally growing straight, fusing the vertabret together.  We were told to put him down.  We refused.  I looked up all sorts of holistic care for him, practiced massage on him, played him special music, used specific colored blankets for healing.  He never had another episode of convulsions, although his condition did worsen over time.

He moved back to Vegas with us when Tulsa turned out to be a nightmare, and from Vegas he moved with us to Kentucky.  Here is where he developed cancer and grew a tumor the size of a grapefruit on his tailbone. I nurtured him the best I could, cared for him with all my might, nursed him to the best of my ability… but when it was time, he told me.  We had to have him put down in December of 06.  As a family unit, we buried him in the back yard with his favorite chew toy, his favorite blanky, and a lil’ something from each of us to stay with him.

I’m sure that my mowing the lawn yesterday and visiting his grave had everything to do with me dreaming him last night.

Every once in a while, we “see” him, or we hear his bark.  We can feel the familiar way he nuzzled our knees when he wanted attention.  No doubt he remains with us.

Last night, while surfing through old blogs, I read the tales of his last days.  I blogged regularly then and recorded every detail of life.  It doesn’t surprise me, then, that I’d dream of him.  Usually, when I dream of him, he has messages for me.  In this dream, it was as if he knew a move was pending and was encouraging me to seek care for the other dogs.  I’d planned to anyway, but it’s nice to know Pharaoh is looking out for his k-9 buddies.  I also think he knows that his being buried here is one of the reasons I hesitate in moving, and he was letting me know he’d be with us no matter where we go.  But, knowing that the ex is buying the house makes leaving a little easier…

In my wallet, I still carry a lock of Pharaoh’s fur, his dog tag, and his photo.

Thanks for the visit, “Fair-Bear”.  It’s always good to see you, Buddy.

*

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Written by:
Wendi Friend

Exotic creatures; domestic pets; finned, feathered, and four-legged critters of the wild: none of us debate their existence. What we do debate, however, is their value, their rights, their spiritual or intellectual status, and their “purpose” in life.

Are animals existent for the sole purpose of human fulfillment by providing food, clothing, leather automobile seats, and feather beds – or is there more to the mind and spirit of animals than we recognize? One needn’t look far to find the answer to this question. In fact, to determine the purpose, worth, value, rights, and spiritual status of animals, all we need to do is remember that we are not separate from them.

The human race, whether through creation, evolution, or divine design is still a species of animal. Each person is born with animal instinct, instinct we are often taught to ignore in light of our self-proclaimed intelligence. Looking at ourselves, we can clearly identify our own worth as a species: we are intelligent; we control fire; we clearly communicate with one another in agricultural and industrial environments. We are the top of the food chain. We, the human species of animal, have enough “magic” in our design that we have become creators. We have created the industrial world; we have invented farming, business, and economy; we have, in essence, become demigods. Yet, for all our intelligence and power, we have forgotten that we are still animals. We have separated ourselves from the essential truth.

Put another shrimp on the barbie; slap another steak on the grill; fry up some bacon to serve for breakfast before heading off to work in the industrialized human world. Granted, animals of the wild are separated into groups of hunter and prey, but we civilized people have learned to remove the hunt and raise animals for uninhibited and unnatural slaughter. In doing so, we have reduced our appreciation for their life essence. “It’s just a pig.” “It’s just a cow”. “It’s just a chicken”. Fortunately for us, there’s not a life form above us who follows that line of thought with, “It’s just a human”. It isn’t “just” a pig, “just” a cow, or “just” a chicken. There’s more to the animals than the sum of their parts. Oh, yes, there’s much more – there’s magick, miracles, and majesty in our fellow animals, regardless of how our race disregards this fact.

The Ainu people of Hokkaido believed in many gods, demons, and realms – but their highest god and creator of Earth was named Kamui, the Creator God. Kamui made his world of water, an immense ocean supported by the spine of a fish. The fish was responsible for the tides by the sucking in and spitting out of water, like a fountain, and was also responsible, through his movement, for earthquakes. When Kumui decided to make more of his water world, he sent down a wagtail to accomplish the task. The wagtail then created islands through the flapping of its wings and stomping of its feet. When the world had been created, all the animals begged Kumui to allow them to live on the Earth, which he allowed, and also created other life forms, including humans, to inhabit his creation. Thus, it is through fish and birds in the Ainu creation story that are responsible for fashioning Earth.

In the Apache story of creation, it was a tarantula that assisted in Earth’s creation. The sun, moon, and Earth were created, but the earth was small, like a bean. The gods then kicked the bean back and forth until it grew. The gods then told the Wind to enter the earth and fill it with air, blowing it up. Still, the planet was too small. It was then that the tarantula began to weave his webbing, creating chords of four different colors spanning the four directions: black for east, blue for south, yellow for west, and white for north. Once the chords were in place, the tarantula tugged on them with all his might, stretching and expanding the earth. This is what gave Earth her vast form, although that form was void of any life until the gods created trees, other insects and animals, and a human population.

In Cherokee creation stories, it’s strictly animals and insects creating the earth. Animals resided in the sky, but the sky was becoming over crowded and uncomfortable. A water beetle volunteered to explore the grounds below, which he found covered with water, so he explored deeper, beneath the water, and found only mud, which he gathered to take back to show the other animals. However, the mud he gathered began to grow and spread, creating land as we know it. As in the Apache story, the Cherokee also tell of four strings being created by another animal (unspecified) to tie the sky to the earth. Next, a buzzard came to the lands, but by the time he arrived he was tired. His wings dipped and touched the ground and wherever they did, a mountain or valley was created. It is also the animals, according to Cherokee legend, that created the sun after deciding the Earth was too dark.

In the Lakota legend, it is again the spider that is responsible for creating Earth – a trickster who had it in mind to cause a conflict between the sun god and his wife, the moon. In attempts to populate the earth, the spider, Inktomi, went to the underworld in the form of a wolf and convinced one man to explore the new creation. The man did so and returned telling the people of the underworld that the earth was a paradise. Once the people had populated the earth, the spider made it impossible for them return to the underworld. When the people discovered the Earth was full of hardship, they tried to return but found themselves trapped and had no choice but to set up homes with their families and live out their days on the planet created by the spider.

There are many other myths and legends of animals in creation. However, today’s thinkers are not necessarily confined to creation stories. Many believe in evolution, or a combination of creation and evolution commonly referred to as Intelligent Design.

In the evolution theory, all life stems from one original life form which, over time, mutated genetically to alter offspring and eventually create new species. In this theory, therefore, all life on earth is related. One form exists, progresses through evolution, and another life form is created. HowStuffWorks.com provides insight via “The Basic Process of Evolution”, in which it is stated: “Billions of years ago, according to the theory of evolution, chemicals randomly organized themselves into a self-replicating molecule. This spark of life was the seed of every living thing we see today (as well as those we no longer see, like dinosaurs). That simplest life form, through the processes of mutation and natural selection, has been shaped into every living species on the planet.”

There’s no doubt that animals existed prior to humans. This being the case, then in the most elementary of terms, evolution suggests that humans are descendants of chimps and gorillas.

Whether animals created the earth, were created as the first life forms on earth, or evolved from simple cell to a fish to a land animal, one fact remains true: Animals were first; they are our elders. Many animals have survived thousands and thousands of years before humans invaded the planet, and still exist among us today. If for no other reason than the fact that they were here first, humans should pay proper respect to animal life. Their mere tenacity is of a magickal, miraculous, majestic nature.

Animals are magickal in many ways. Such is the magick of animals that their stories reach far back in time, before humans, and in some legends and stories, animals themselves are responsible for the creation of Earth and of mankind. Animals have also been cherished by shamans, healers, and spiritualists who believe animals communicate messages, warnings, and guidance to us either by appearing to us in the physical realm, or by astral encounters or dreams. However, animals are magickal in an even more unique and mystical ways, such as when an untrained animal goes above and beyond what any human would expect in order to save a human life!

Animals are such agreeable friends – they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.”
— George Eliot

Tegan is a nine-year-old Irish setter who, at the age of three, was diagnosed with a deadly form of bone cancer. Unlike an average house pet, Tegan was trained at an early age to work with therapy patients. According to AngelAnimals.net (http://www.angelanimals.net/nl001.html), “Tegan had earned his C.D. at the age of eighteen months, and was looking forward to a career in conformation, as well as continuing in obedience, field, and therapy work. He also had his C.G.C. and was certified both by Therapy Dogs International and the Delta Society. He had been making Animal Assisted Activity visits since the age of one year. Naturally, the diagnosis of osteosarcoma in such a young dog, with such a promising career was a shock and devastation…” After his diagnosis at age 3, Tegan had to have a leg and shoulder amputated, followed by chemotherapy. It didn’t take long, though, for him to recover and return to his much loved occupation of working with human patients, particularly amputees and cancer patients. Despite all he had been through, he still carried a playful, compassionate attitude and was able to enjoy life to the fullest through activities such as swimming and running. Tegan enjoyed his work and his positive attitude and loving spirit was able to assist humans going through physical or health-related challenges.

“A dog has the soul of a philosopher.”
–Plato

In Whangarei, New Zealand, dolphins are responsible for saving the lives of swimmers as a shark approached. The swimmers, unaware of the shark, found themselves being herded together by a group of dolphins. When one of the swimmers would try to break free from the heard, more dolphins would follow to round him up and lead them back to the herd. Only after the dolphins had herded the swimmers together did the swimmers see the shark, 3 meters in length, about 2 meters beneath the surface. The dolphins protected the swimmers for forty minutes! According to all-creatures.org (http://www.all-creatures.org/stories/a-dolphins.html), “Auckland University marine mammal research scientist Doctor Rochelle Constantine said dolphins were normally vigilant in the presence of sharks. The altruistic response of the dolphins was normal, she said. “They like to help the helpless.”

The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
–Mohandas Gandhi

Also provided by all-creatures.org (http://www.all-creatures.org/stories/a-lions.html) is the story of a young kidnapped girl being rescued by lions. The twelve-year-old girl had been kidnapped and beaten in attempts to establish marriage, a custom in Ethiopia where 70% of marriages are established via abduction. The kidnappers held the child for seven days, repeatedly beating her. It is thought that the girl’s cries, able to be mistaken by a lion as meows and whimpers from a cub, are what attracted the lions to protect her. The lions, whose sex was not able to be determined, chased away the attackers and guarded the girl until police and her family could track her. Once the police and family arrived, the lions abandoned the scene, leaving the girl “like a gift” for human rescuers.

Animals are reliable, many full of love, true in their affections, predictable in their actions, grateful and loyal. Difficult standards for people to live up to.”
–Alfred A. Montapert

A Singapore student, Sarah, writes of a dog, Sirius, who saved her life when she’d been swimming. She entered the swimming pool alone without doing warm up exercises first, and having just eaten a meal. Once in the pool, the girl’s leg began to cramp and she found herself unable to swim. Her attentive dog, Sirius, recognized she was in trouble and jumped into the water to save her. Sirius grabbed Sarah by the scruff of her suit and pulled her to the edge of the pool, saving her from drowning. (http://www.tesan.vuurwerk.nl/diaries/t6/sirius.htm)

“I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me they are the role model for being alive.”
–Gilda Radner

There are hundreds of stories available about how we mistreat animals, how we destroy their environments, murder for fashion, or how humans are cruel to animals in other ways. Yet, the animals don’t seem to hold a grudge against us and are able to overcome the barriers in order to save human lives when there’s a need. Certain animals are trained to work with humans in therapy, others prove themselves heroes while working with police or the fire department, some animals who save lives are our every day pets who sense trouble and step in to protect, and yet other animals of the wild, untrained to human touch or contact, will go out of their way to help a human in need. If that’s not magickal, I don’t know what is!

“If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man.”
–Mark Twain (1835 – 1910)

 

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution

http://science.howstuffworks.com/evolution1.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creation_myth#Ainu

http://www.tesan.vuurwerk.nl/diaries/t6/sirius.htm

http://www.all-creatures.org
http://www.angel-animals.net
http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art9572.asp

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