Animals mean everything to me. My Labrador, Homer Hanuman Ram dog, will celebrate his 13th birthday on June 3.
He is a miracle. He is “not supposed” to be here.
Now read about him and the Blog Post I wrote three years ago….and how he is not “supposed to have survived” again and again and again. But this dog has an indomitable spirit, and he is devoted to me, to love, and this little sick and crippled doggie continues on and on….
On and on and on.
How many of us continue and survive through devotion, devotion to That which never gives up, never leaves, the Seeking which always Finds?
Homer Hanuman Ram Dog. Happy Birthday my Beloved….
The Yellow Dog is Older Now
The Yellow Dog is older now.
His gait is unsteady; his head hangs a little lower, swings a little more slowly than it did before. The doctor says there are signs of a neurological disorder.
The yellow dog was “sent” to me as a sign, I said, being whelped the day the retriever died.
I was so lonely, craving a dog again, the companionship of the disciple and master rolled into one.
So Homer came to me. They said he had been hurt. His body was crippled, and they told me he should sleep with me.
We put the futon on the floor of my office, and the gangly, bony, yellow dog slept on top of my body to heal his own.
The bone doctor said the yellow dog should not have healed the terrible problem that the other vets said should have killed him. But this doctor said he was “different.” “He has an indomitable spirit. I will operate on him,” the doctor said.
So Homer Hanuman Ram Dog walked out of a 7 hour operation on his legs and hips and never looked back. He was 9 months old.
And as the old dog snores softly next to me on a different bed, in a different place now, I weep with gratitude that this companion has seen me through these times. I weep with gratitude that I have the honor to see him through his time, now.
His long, sad face looks back at me, as if to say that he, too, remembers the time our eyes met and we became lovers so long ago. I think he is thanking me. I think he is remembering all down the length of his bent body how he is grateful for the walks in the mountains, the swims in the oceans, the fights with his “sisters,” the loving care he took of the children when that was his job, the daily baths he gave to Boots, the cat, who welcomed his slurps joyfully, and especially for the naps by the fire, his belly full with the food I cooked for him, the food which has helped heal that sad and sick body of his. Now I am given the opportunity to care for him again, to see my Homer move toward the end of his devoted life.
I have “put down” six animals now. Each time I wondered if I could handle it, or if the time would be right, or what if they suffered? What if I didn’t make it in time? Each time serendipity and grace took care of details and it happened perfectly, in God’s time.
Homer is telling me not to worry. He will signal me, as he has told me again and again how to do things, to relax, that all will be well.
So, if we have two days, two weeks, two months or two years together, this yellow dog and me, well, we have had the very best of all of it, the very worst of all of it, and I sing praises to my beloved Homer Hanuman Ram Dog, my second yellow dog, my sweetest yellow dog.
It was my first yellow dog who taught me about God, so many years ago, by the fireplace. His name was Shiva. His brown eyes were gazing up at me as he lay at my feet. His golden coat looked silken and translucent in the light of the fire. It became surreally clear to me that he seemed only to want one thing in life: to serve me and obey my every command. His devotion, like the monkey god, Hanuman, in the epic poem of India, the Mahabharata, was his modus operandi, his way and his life and his means. He wanted only to do what Hanuman did for his beloved Sita – retrieving her ring again and again in the underworld as she threw it down, timeless in the action of surrender and devotion – happy only to retrieve the ring, never asking why the idiotic Sita threw it away again and again and again. Hanuman’s task embodied only his fierce love and capacity to obey. He loved his mistress, and indeed, would have been happy to die into this love for her as he went down to the underworld, again and again and again, never asking why, just doing what he was born to do.
Shiva waited for me to tell him what to do. He cowered if I was angry, upset when I was upset, at my side if and when I became ill, refusing food himself, so tuned in to me that he was becoming adept at anticipating my next command. He would get up and go to the kitchen several beats before my thoughts to do so had registered. He waited by my office door if I could not invite him in with my next client. He lay under my healing table in the courtyard, and “told” me when a session had finished. He would always align himself north to south, as if to say, “All is well; there is completion here.”
So, I was struck silent and filled with awe the night I understood, for the first time, the relationship between the Master and the Disciple.
God is just like me, I thought, and I am just like Shiva. I am the Disciple, and Shiva is the Master. Or I am the Master, and Shiva is my Disciple. As a disciple, I found the only peace I had ever known when I knew I was performing my life’s purpose: that of obeying the Will of God. It was always so effortless, this understanding of my purpose. Any resistance to What Was caused enormous conflict and pain in my being. But when I simply stopped, waited, and refused to act until I knew the next action, I was in the flow of my life’s purpose, the purported Will of God. I knew it as surely as Shiva knew it. I had been living this purpose for years, twisting in agony when I went against what I knew.
Looking into my dog’s eyes that night, I could not help but laugh when I thought of the childish mumblings “dog is god spelled backwards.”
The Native Americans call our dogs our “familiars.” It is as if they come to us knowing who we are better than we could ever know ourselves. And they lead us away from danger, they protect us, they sleep with us, and they forgive us. There is no psychological nonsense in a dog’s personality structure. They just are. They just forgive. They continue to move forward, apparently harboring no resentment for whatever happened in the apparent past.
Shiva died in 2003, to be replaced by Homer Hanuman Ram Dog. Homer is the same way, a true incarnation of Shiva. He is a yellow lab, and he is now lying next to me, curled up and happy, pressing his spine into my leg from time to time, letting me know he is there.
I want to be like Shiva and Homer. I want only to lie at my Master’s feet, to wait for the next command, to be happy to die for my Beloved. I am absolutely still in the perfection of the ancient scripture’s sutra: “only one who obeys can command.”
The Yellow Dog rouses now, yawns, circles, and then slams down against me as if he is sure he can be absorbed into my body. He hits my side so hard with his bony spine I am wondering if either of us is injured. I remember how he slept with me as a pup in order to heal this bone condition which so cripples him again now.
He opens one eye and looks at me. That look is what I never want to forget. It is the look of such profound love and devotion it causes my heart to ache and hurt and swell, and I am once again brought to my knees in humility and gratitude for the grace I am given in being allowed to care for my dog in his advancing years.
Only one who obeys can command. We go to sleep, our spines pressed against one another’s, hopefully to wake together again and praise away another day. The Yellow Dogs have taught me about God. I want to serve the old Yellow Dog until he is no more, and then serve until I am no more.
Easter Sunday, April 8, 2012