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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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