ANIMALS AND THE AFTERLIFE
You will have to bear with me here; I’m not entirely sure where I am heading with it…….just got a push to look at pet animals and the afterlife.
As I’ve said, my father (Pop) was a vet and had no belief whatsoever in an afterlife, either for himself or for his beloved animals. He was a softy; certainly not a businessman, and would have gone bankrupt many a time over if it weren’t for his partner, John (perhaps too much of a businessman)! Pop would treat many an animal and not make a charge, especially if the owner were over the age of 60 and infirm (or under the age of 20 and warm hearted)! He hated euthanazing healthy animals and would not do so unless pushed to breaking point by John. Any kittens and puppies brought in for euthanasia would be housed and fed at the surgery until a brow-beaten but joyful new owner walked out the door with a new pet (vaccinated, wormed and free of charge)!
I grew up around animals and they were always a part of my life. The surgery used to be at the farm where we lived so these homeless pets became my charges during school holidays (along with the myriad of pets that actually belonged to us). Our final family pet was a cat Pop rescued with one eye and a rather unprepossessing blackish, brownish, somewhat tatty fur coat – ‘Roo’ to his friends. He immediately became Pop’s personal property and loved him unconditionally, as animals are so very good at doing. When Pop died suddenly Roo was devastated; inconsolable for a number of months. We kept a cardigan of Pops and Roo could always be found snuggled up on it – wherever we hid it! He would spook us sometimes by staring fixedly at some point just beyond our vision and he would start to purr! On these occasions we would say to each other that Pop had come visiting; sounded silly at the time but now fully believable!
This is where I am tempted to get a little spiritual in thought. The constant theme of spirituality is love; unconditional love, compassion and forgiveness. Think a little about how we love our animals – isn’t it unconditional love that we give them? To become enlightened spiritually we need to be able to love everyone and everything unconditionally. Animals can teach us so much about unconditional love, loyalty and gratitude. I find myself drawn automatically to people who love animals and find that I have little in common with those that don’t. I think that some people are very egotistical in believing that humans are superior to animals. I think that animals, just like us, have a soul and a soul purpose for the time they spend with us. I think animals have an amazing healing power in the unconditional love that they show the human race.
When Chris married me we both looked forward to starting our own family; animal family that is. Foxy Lady was our first joyful companion, a chintzy puss with a fearful temper. She lived for 17 years and emigrated with us to New Zealand; as did Bracken and Dahl, our two beautiful Golden Retrievers. To ship the animals out here cost more money than shipping the furniture and ourselves! We then adopted a succession of beautiful cats; all simple moggies but fine looking nonetheless. They have all given us unconditional love and loyalty. We have been blessed with longevity of our animals for the most part. Bracken and Dahl both lived to a good age. It is always terribly sad when you lose an animal but when they have been with you for many years a dignified and peaceful end for them is all that you can ask.
Two of our beautiful cats weren’t given the option of a dignified and peaceful end – they were unfortunate victims of the destructive house fire we experienced just after we moved to Owaka to work for the Clutha Licensing Trust. Tigger and Dusty; they were both middle-aged and slowing down a little; had snugged in for the night when the fire struck. Both were killed by smoke inhalation. Our other two cats were extremely lucky to survive the inferno.
I talked months ago at the start of my ramblings about ‘Dream or Reality’. I had a similar experience with Tigger and Dusty. They came back to me; only once, to show me that they are now fine. This was no dream, it was a reality, a visitation (now that I know how to tell the difference).
‘Long Cat Yowling’, Rowie’s cat is grieving; he is most definitely grieving the loss of Rowie. He yowls a lot, he demands a huge amount of attention and he is aggressive towards our other cats. He spends a lot of time either on the bunk above Rowie’s bed or on the bed itself. He too looks beyond you sometimes with a fixed expression; as if watching someone just over your shoulder. I like to think that Rowie is visiting his much loved feline friend and us on these occasions.
I have heard many stories retold of people ‘feeling’ the presence of their departed pets; even seeing shadows or movements out of the corner of their eye. Why shouldn’t our much loved pets find a place in Heaven too? They are warm blooded, loving creatures. I am sure, just like us, they too have souls.
If so, Rowie is now surrounded by the unconditional love of a mountain of furry feline friends and allowing myself to think this gives me huge comfort!
So why not?