I remember the first time I looked into those sad eyes. They were big and brown circled by what looked like black eyeliner, she reminded me of Cleopatra. I was working at Mount Ida College at the time and when I needed a little cheering up I would go and visit the Beagles in the kennel as part of the Veterinary Technology Program. At the end of every school year the dogs in the program are adopted by loving homes. I remember how excited I was when I found out the dog with the sad eyes, named "Sahara" after the desert, would be the dog I was taking home. It seemed synchronistic, the very dog I had locked eyes with in the kennel was the very one I would be taking home.
Sahara, three years old at the time, had spent her short life in a kennel. Her name before Mount Ida had been a seven digit number tattooed in her left ear. She was shy and skittish, uncertain of everything. On the car ride home she shook like a leaf and puked multiple times. She didn't know what to expect and quite frankly, neither did my husband and I. But we quickly saw that we had been given a beautiful gift. Sahara, who we named "Sierra" immediately found a special place in our hearts.
We shared so many firsts with Sierra -- car rides, stairs, the beach, chasing birds at the beach, human food (stolen off our plates when we turned our heads), chasing squirrels in our yard, the birth of our two boys, a new home, more squirrels, and more food (stolen off our children's plates when they turned their heads), and lots of cuddles.
As the years passed Sierra began to slow down and her face began to gray. Our walks became shorter and her belly became rounder, she always did love her food. Until one day, she no longer wanted to eat or drink. She could no longer climb stairs or jump onto the couch. Our sweet Sierra was slipping away and working closely with our vet, we felt it was time to ease her pain and let her go.
I chose to be present when we put her to sleep. I wanted the last thing she saw to be love, as I gazed into her beautiful eyes and watched her take her last breath, waves of sadness washed over me as I felt all the love we had shared. And with her final breath, she was gone. The body that had housed her soul was now empty, it was just a body. My sweet Sierra was no longer there; she had transitioned to heaven.
After Sierra's passing our family grieved her absence. My companion for car rides and snuggles was gone. I had lost one of my closest friends. I considered adopting another dog but there could never be another Sierra. She was such a blessing to our family through the good times and the tough times, always happy to give a kiss and wipe a tear. Always by our side.
Months passed by. I occasionally poked around on PetFinder looking at potential dogs to adopt but the timing never seemed quite right until just recently. I spotted a four-month-old Beagle with big beautiful eyes from Arkansas who needed a home. I meditated on it and found myself still unsure if she was the one, and well, with a face that sweet I figured she had probably already been adopted.
The next day my friend asked me if I had adopted a new dog yet. I replied, "No. Hasn't been the right timing." She nodded that she understood. Then the next day another friend said she had found a Beagle in Florida that needed rescuing and I should adopt her. This got me thinking, "Hmm, maybe it is time to think about adopting." And then the next day a picture of Sierra came up on FaceBook as a favorite memory. In that moment, I felt Sierra was letting me know it was time. And hey, that dog you saw was awfully cute and needs a good home.
I showed a picture of the Beagle I had found to my Uncle. He looked at me and smiled, "You know, Lori, we are dog people. That's your dog. You better go and get her."
Ok, you don't have to hit me on the head with a message multiple times before I listen, well maybe a couple. I went home and applied for the puppy from Forever Home Rescue New England. After submitting my application I decided to consult the Angels, just to be sure. I pulled out my Angel & Saints deck and two cards randomly fell out of the deck: "You Found It" and "Animals." I knew in that moment we were about to become the proud parents of a new baby Beagle, Brooke, also now known as "The Brookster" and "Brooklyn."
And just in case it wasn't clear that she was the one for us, on our way to pick her up, a car passed by with the license plate "ANGELS." I knew that we had been helped by our Angels including our sweet Sierra. I couldn't believe Sierra was working her magic from the other-side. She truly is, and will always be, one special dog close to my heart. And now it seems the journey of puppy love begins again.
I shared this story in honor of my best friend Sierra who was 12 when she passed away on February 6, 2017. I also shared this journey to demonstrate the power of our Angels in Spirit and their ability to continually touch our lives from the other-side. Pets are Angels, too!