A dog is put on Earth for specific reasons: To love, support and protect their humans. It is a natural instinct for most of us. But occasionally dogs, like humans, develop disorders that prevent them from performing their duties.
Fern is one such dog. She came into her mom’s life shortly after her brother PJ went to the Bridge. At first Fern was the perfect successor to PJ. But, as she grew older, she began to show signs of aggression. Her mom tried to find answers for Fern’s behavior but couldn’t. She had no choice but to send Fern to the Bridge at just three years of age.
I have never seen a dog sadder to cross the River of Life than Fern. Many dogs are upset about leaving their family, but Fern was sure that she had failed her family, and her duties as a dog.
She was met by her brother PJ. He hugged her and assured her that her mom loved her no matter what. But Fern kept saying “I failed, I failed. I didn’t love my humans like I should have.”
PJ wrapped her in his arms and told her to sit. I had joined them along with her friends Meika, Scooby and Odie. We all gave her hugs and kisses.
“Why did I fail so badly?” she asked me.
I took her by the paw and told her to sit. “It wasn’t your fault,” I said.
“Of course it was,” she said. “I was the one who did the snapping, the biting, the growling. It was so bad they had to send me here. I broke her heart.”
I put my arm around her. “Sometimes, we want to do the right thing in our hearts, but our brains don’t cooperate. You never meant to act the way you did. You love your mom. But there was something in your head. It took control of your body. You weren’t the sweet Fern she knew. You became someone else. It was an illness. Like cancer, or a heart problem. People can accept them. But when the problem affects your personality it is harder for humans to understand. The only way to defeat the illness is to send you here, so you can be Fern again.”
“But I am the one that failed,” she said.
“You no more failed than all of us failed. We all had a truly fatal flaw. Mine affected my breathing. Scooby and Odie’s affected their walking. Yours affected your personality. But your mom knows how much you love her. And she wants you to be you again, so she sent you to us.”
“Does she know I loved her and never meant to hurt her?” Fern asked.
PJ stepped in front of her. “No one knows our mom better than me Fern. Mom knows you love her. It broke her heart when you got sick But that’s what happened. You got sick. Up until then you did a great job. No dog could have loved their mom more. You were perfect.”
We all agreed.
“And she knows that now you are back to being the Fern she loves. You will visit her, in her dreams, or in other forms, and she will feel that love again. She, like the rest of us, wish you had more time. Three years is nowhere near enough. But you and mom shared a lifetime of love over those three years.”
Fern wiped her years away and PJ helped her stand. She hugged us all again and thanked us for helping her.
She and her mom are both getting better, one day at a time.
Out of all the diseases that brings dogs to the Bridge ones that affect the brain are the worst.
But like everything we will get through it together.