Sunday, February 4, 2018

For the Love of a Dog

Maya, smiling.

The bond between human and pet. It's beautiful. Many of us have stories from our childhood of our beloved dogs or cats, stories that almost seem incredible. Dog walks miles to be reunited with family. Or, cat shows up one year after it disappeared.

Last night I dreamed for the first time about a dog that had been with my family for many years. Her name was Maya and she was a beautiful Husky. She stayed with my parents for many years and the bond became unbreakable. Dad had been a heart patient, so walking Maya was a daily ritual for his health, but we knew that he secretly loved it too. How proud Dad was to walk alongside such a gorgeous creature. And that dog, sensing that our father had limitations, would choose to walk carefully beside him, always at Dad's pace. She understood his commands during their jaunts, and I know she kept our father healthier for this daily exercise they shared.

Mom loved her even more if that was possible. Our mother was the St. Francis of the family. Every stray animal, hurt bird, or furry casualty on the side of the road, she was the type to cry over their plight. She bonded with every pet we'd ever owned, and each of them loved her right back in turn. Maya was a faithful companion to Mom. Especially after our father passed away, that dog would be just inches from wherever mother sat. And even with her dementia, Mom treated that dog in the most loving ways.

When Maya got sick last year and my brother had to make a most difficult decision, I was worried how Mom would take it. I swear that our mother went downhill quickly right after Maya departed. She lost a true spark of living after that, and was never the same.

I remember at one of the emergency room visits last year when Mom was laying in the hospital bed, she was drifting in and out of sleep or consciousness. There was a point where she began "petting" an invisible animal, one that I could not see, but nonetheless knew was there with her. Because afterward, Mom reached her hand up as if grasping someone's extended hand. I felt that Dad and Maya were there with her at that moment.

Last night, for the first time, I dreamed about that dog. My father was walking her on a leash. Dad looked younger with dark hair--handsome. And Maya was beautiful and fluffy and whole. She ran over to me, licking my face, jumping on me with excitement in the dream. I remember feeling such happiness and wished the dream would continue much longer.

I just found out today that only four short days ago marked the year of Maya's passing. How odd that she would feature so prominently in a dream last night. And not only my dream, but my brother shared one of her too.