The moment John realized his dog Barney would never be a COVID sniffing dog
I was awoken this morning to the sound of someone cutting my hedges. I got out of bed and went outside, where I saw the little ball of white fur I am lucky enough to call my friend JD trimming the bushes.
I inquired what motivated his need to landscape. “My sister Wendy is arriving today. She is perfect, so I want everything is spotless for her.
“The Bridge goes on for millions of miles and is ever-expanding,” I explained. “You can’t trim it all. Why don’t you come inside, and I will give you some bone broth and stinky cheese.” I knew how excited JD was about his sister's arrival, but no dog can resist bone broth and stinky cheese.
After he ate, he told me he needed to get back to trimming. I said I had seen thousands of dogs reunited at the Bridge, and they didn’t care what the scenery was, just who greeted them.”
“You’re right,” JD exclaimed, standing abruptly and knocking over my broth boat, then he apologized profusely. I told him not to worry because someone would be by to lick it up soon. He stated that he needed to look perfect for his sister. He took me by the paw and dragged me to Tiara’s beauty salon.
Tiara, a beautiful Shih Tzu, opened her shop with her sister Lovey when she arrived at the Bridge. If there was a special occasion, the dogs flocked to her shop to become even more beautiful than they already were. JD is an exceptionally well-groomed dog, and Tiara tried to explain she could not improve on his looks, but he insisted. I suggested a rinse and blowout, and they both agreed.
I must admit JD did look fetching after being blown and fluffed. I looked up and noticed we were late. I yelled to JD that we would have to run to get there on time. We were intensely motivated because JD wanted to be the first to hug his sister, and I had never missed a swearing-in ceremony.
We got to Hobo’s Landing, and I was fortunate that my sister Blake had brought my robe and gavel. Wendy had just begun her journey across the Bridge, where all the pain and misery she had accrued while living was washed away. Overcome, JD ran down the steps and tried to jump on his beloved sister, but he mistimed his leap, sailed past Wendy, hit the ground, and rolled into the River.
Poor JD crawled out of the water, soaked and smelly with his fluffy white fur matted to his skin. “Oh, Wendy,” he said. “I so wanted to be perfect for you.” Wendy hugged him, placed a kiss on his cheek, and told him the moment could not have been better. She then led him up the stairs and was sworn in as her mom’s newest angel.
Wendy had been Mama Silvie’s constant for 17 years. Some dogs became part of the pack, and others went to the Bridge during her lifetime, but Wendy persisted. Having a long life does not make passing over easier, especially for a devoted mom. In the end, those 18 years went by in a flash of light.
Wendy still has three dogs, lead by Ari, working with the angels to keep their mom happy. It will not be easy as this punch was one of the strongest she has taken. But, no one can stay sad all the time when there are cute, barking, little white dogs running around. And if she squints out of the corner of her eye, she will see JD, Wendy, playing with them in shadow form.
It is going to take more than just going to the Bridge to keep Wendy away from her.
Serena, a one-eyed Terrier, loves to walk with her dad in Kiroli State Park in West Monroe, Louisiana. Because of her lack of peripheral vision, Serena developed a keen sense of smell. This leads her to a startling find, which spurred me to find a pup who passed 80-years-ago.
Serena took a break from chasing ducks to sniff the ground. She smelled something that should not have been there and began to push aside the dirt and leaves. Serena found a strange stone with letters on it. She got her dad’s attention. He bent down and read aloud: “Buddie 1928-1941: Born a Dog, Died a Gentleman.”
Serena’s dad is naturally curious and wondered who would bury a dog alone in a park. He began researching the town history and came across an article detailing how the park was once a Boy’s Club camp, and the mascot was a pup named Buddie. One day one of the boys strayed too far from shore. Buddie saw him, barked shrilly, alerted the counselors, who saved the boy.
That night Serena prayed that she wanted to meet Buddie in her dreams. The Big Guy assigned it to me. This would be a challenge. I didn’t know where Buddie was or how to find him. But I am known for rising to a challenge, and I set out to find the little gentleman.
There is a special place at the Bridge where the children play. Puppies like Skye will always be youths in the immortal world, and so are children. It is terrible to think that their lives were cut short, but they bring positive energy to the Bridge. It would not be a proper afterlife without the sound of happy children. Most angels want to rest, but kids love to play, so they are sent to day camps. I checked a hundred of them until I found one with a mascot named Buddie.
I found the camp by following the sounds of happy children splashing in a lake. I looked for Buddie but could not find him. Then I heard a dog ask if he could help me. I glanced up and saw Buddie sitting in the Lifeguard’s chair.
I then recounted how Serena and her dad had come upon the little dog’s modest headstone. “Isn’t that humorous,” Buddie said. “I thought the marker must have been bulldozed by now. It was lovely of the camp to honor me in that manner.”
I inquired of his life, and Buddie said that he was a stray, not uncommon in those days, who began to stay at the camp because children are careless with their food. The kids took to him right off, and he did to them. In a manner, Buddie was the first therapy dog. Scared, angry, and sad children were put in a room with Buddie, and he calmed them. Then there was the day that he barked to save the boy from drowning, and he was made a permanent member of the camp. He had come to them a gruff feral, and when he passed, he was a charming, happy pup, which was why his survivors created the headstone.
I told him about Serena, and he said he was anxious to meet her. He had not gone back to the camp since he went to the Bridge. That night I accompanied Serena and Buddie on their dream date. I watched with joy as Buddie ran around the old campground, magically showing us how it looked in the ’30s and then back to the way it is now. By the end of the night, Buddie was exhausted but thrilled that he had returned to the camp, and Serena was satisfied with all that she had learned.
I know many hero dogs whose stories are just below the surface, which is why dogs scratch the ground before they go to sleep. They are looking for something good to read.
Pokey, Toby, and Maggie didn’t know if they would ever lay their heads at a place they could call home again.
When their mama Laura took sick last year, her family cared for the beloved pups. When her condition worsened, plans were made to send the dogs to a good friend of their mom’s in Illinois, who generously agreed to take them. Against all odds, Mama Laura rallied and returned home, albeit too briefly.
Mama Laura was caught in a perfect storm of illnesses that would not let her escape. After a brief few days at home, she returned to the hospital and then to rehab. Toby, Maggie. and Pokey went back to a family member’s house. Because of their unique connection with their mom, they knew they wouldn’t be returning home. For the time being, their future did not concern them because they were worried about their mom.
Then came the terrible moment when Mama Laura saw them in their dreams and told them that she had been called to the Bridge. She promised always to be a presence in their lives, but soon they would get a new mom who they should love and respect as they did her.
Mama Laura’s family knew of her agreement with a friend to take the dogs, but the woman had a large pack, and the family became concerned that Laura’s dogs needed individual attention. For the family, trying to find a home for three adult dogs, one 16-years-old seemed impossible.
On the other side of the country, while mama Laura was fighting her health issues, Shiloh the Pitty, after a long battle with cancer, departed for the Bridge. No one realized why, and the sacrifices he made, he left his momma Kate without a dog.
But Shiloh knew what was happening, that Laura wouldn’t be coming home and the three dogs would need a place of their own. He made the ultimate sacrifice and went to the Bridge to give his friends a chance at the perfect home.
Mama Laura and Mama Kate became friends on the DoggySpace site. When Mama Kate came to Boston for a conference, she visited Miss Laura and met Pokey. The two dog moms started a beautiful friendship.
Kate knew that Mama Laura would love for her to care for the dogs she considered her children. When Kate found out that the Lunn Trio needed a home with no other dogs, she immediately stepped up. She survived the family screening process and was told she’d be the trios’ new mom.
There was only one slight problem Kate lived, 2,600 miles away in Arizona. But thanks to Denise Carrothers, who set up the transport and the volunteers at BarkinQ Rescue Across The Globe, the trio left Massachusetts for the first time and headed west to seek their fortune.
The transfer officially happened in Missouri. Goodbyes and hellos were exchanged, and loaded the dogs into Kate’s vehicle. In less than 24 hours, they were at their new home.
Pokey, the pack leader, had taken all the pack’s anxiety on himself, assuring his siblings there was no reason to worry. Once settled, he let loose his nerves and was so overcome he had trouble walking. Mama Kate took him to the vet, and they found nothing wrong. He was in perfect health for a 16-year-old. Traveling more than 2,000 miles takes its toll on all of us.
Mama Laura was with her dogs, in spirit form, all the way from Massachusetts to Arizona, but now that her pups had a new mom, she had to leave them so she didn’t take any love away from their Mama Kate. She told them if they needed her, just take a nap and she would be there.
She knows she no longer has to worry about her precious babies because they are in the perfect home and the best of hands.
I don’t know why we have different places for dogs and cats at the Bridge since so many of us happily co-existed on the mortal side. These rules were written long ago, and none of us have ever had the motivation to change them.
But then Frank the cat departed his loving family for the Bridge and challenged the rules like no soul had ever done before.
Frank, like all cats, emerged from the River of Life, shook off the water, and began to cross the Bridge into Kitty Land when he saw hundreds of his species waiting for him. But the one he most wanted to see was not there, so he stopped crossing ran down the bank until he came to the Doggie Space Bridge, which he began to walk over.
He made it halfway across when he was stopped by Morris, the most potent and persnickety feline judge at the Bridge. Morris commanded Frank to turn and cross in their territory. Being a perfect cat specimen Frank performed the most predictable kitty maneuver. He sat in the middle of the expanse and refused to budge.
Aran saw his brother being confronted by the large tabby and ran down the steps towards the Bridge, snarling like he had seen a rogue squirrel. I ran after him hoping to avoid an international incident.
Morris and I, being judges, are allowed to cross the Bridge to the edge of the other side, but angels like Aran can’t even step foot on it, or they could be banished like Moonlight Graham. I made sure Aran did not make the mistake of going on the Bridge then walked to the middle where Frank was confronting the cat judge. I said that there was no reason Frank could not cross to Doggyspace. Morris began to recite in dizzying fashion a list of regulations stating why he couldn’t. It started to become a real brouhaha when Aron suggested a crossing point between two sections where cats and dogs can wait, be sworn in, and cohabitate together, unlike the ongoing cases of dogs and cats shacking up illegally, a rule only fat cats like Morris and enforced.
Of course, Maurice had a conniption at the mere suggestion of a duel crossing bridge, but I thought it was a great idea. Frank went back to the other side, where none of us could go. We had to move quickly. If Frank didn’t cross over by sundown, he would be sentenced to live as a ghost, not of either world.
We got Aran’s friends to chip in and help build the Bridge while the kitties living illegally with us recruited other cats to help. Frank was the only one building on his side, but he had such determination he was outpacing us before sundown; we made the two sides of the new Bridge meet, and Frank was the first to cross over. Everyone celebrated except for Morris, who sat in the window licking his paw.
Aran and Frank built their home on the new land between the dogs and cats’ villages. They called it Pet Space, where all animals can cohabitate. Aran proudly said they would even allow ferrets. Frank told him not to get carried away.
I hope Mama Lynn
finds out that her two angels changed the Bridge for the better just as
they did her world. She‘s responsible for raising two trailblazing pets
who created a land where dogs and cats could live openly together. The
Space is already filling up, and thanks to Frank and Aran, we greet a
new day of love and understanding.
Behind Heidi, Missy Diva, a Yorkie, even more, pampered than me, and a cat Meow Meow was sitting in my reading chair talking. I heard Missy Diva complimenting my window treatments, while Meow Meow complained that I did not have cat treats. While I would like to speak to the little duo, it was Heidi who needed my help.
Two days prior, Heidi was helped to the Bridge by her momma Tracy after having battled kidney disease. That is a challenging road to travel. Peeing is something everyone takes for granted until they can’t. Heidi bravely battled the illness to stay with her mom. When Tracy saw that Heidi’s life was too painful for her baby to go on, she helped her travel to the next world.
The Bridge was crowded the day Heidi crossed. Being adept at social media helped Heidi make friends throughout the world. Those who preceded her to the Bridge, along with Meow Meow, Missy Diva, and the other pets who had lived with Momma Tracy, impatiently awaited their friend’s arrival. Heidi slowly moved over the Bridge, often looking back, not wanting to leave her mom, and looking over her shoulder, hoping to see a way back.
Unfortunately, there is no returning to the mortal side in corporal form. Missy Diva and Meow Meow promised to teach her how to visit their mom in dreams, as ghosts, and as other small animals, but nothing she curbed Momma Tracy’s grief. Before Heidi passed, she always made her mom feel better. She would not have come to the Bridge if she knew those days were ending.
This often happens when a dog crosses over, especially when they have those last precious moments together when the human tells their beloved pet that they will be fine alone and not worry about those left behind because they are strong and will be okay. It isn’t a lie; it is just something humans say to ease the dogs’ transfer. Heidi understood that. But, she wished it had been confirmed, and her mom was as fine as the day they first met.
I asked Heidi if she remembered her first days with her birth mom. Heidi, a brilliant dog, said she did. Then I asked if she recalled feeding off her mom, and she nodded. “Even if you are not there to take it, her body continues to produce milk,” I explained. “And, over time, it builds up and begins to ache. It is the same with a mother’s love. She keeps producing it, but there is no one to receive it, and her entire body aches. Over time, the milk and the love recede, but it takes time, and since it is a physical ache, there is nothing to stop it except to wait.”
Heidi asked me what she should do. “The hardest thing of all, to wait.” Dogs are not good at it, but angels need to be: The learning curve is steep.
Heidi asked me how to do that, and I patted the bed and told her a secret: Snuggling is the best way to pass the time. She laid down, and her siblings joined us.
Waiting is hell, but snuggling makes everything bearable.
As you know, nothing cures depression and the pain of mourning like a dog. Most of my stories revolve around pups helping people mourn another dog, but we get the job done when it comes to losing a person too.
When Abigail Rabbet’s mom passed to the Bridge, she lost her parent, best friend, and confidant.
Abigail felt lonelier than she ever been before.
She experienced all the worst stages of grief. She could not work because she had lost the ability to concentrate; she could not stop crying, she dyed her hair in an attempt to feel differently, and, most concerning, she binged watched Keeping Up With the Kardashians.
Before her mom passed, while she was very ill, Abigail became her full-time caretaker. They spent all day together, watching TV, talking, drinking tea, and supporting one another through the crises. Then, in a breath, it was over.
After the passing, everything that had given Abigail and her mom pleasure now brought pain. There was no escape from the reminder that Abigail was now alone.
Abigail’s dad knew that he had to break his daughter from the cycle of grief. He coaxed her to leave the house on a special mission to find a dog.
While growing up, Abigail and her parents had a beloved black Labrador who lived to 17. The family was so devastated when he went to the Bridge that they could not get another dog, but now her dad decided it was time.
The breeder was a friend of the family. He agreed to let them take a puppy right away if they so chose, not his usual policy. The dad immediately bonded with a little black pup and insisted on bringing it home that day.
Abigail was skeptical, but when the little pup curled up on her lap on the way home, she began to experience true euphoria. Still, that night the joy turned to sorrow as she began to feel guilty loving a dog like she loved her mom.
She did not realize that her mom and her Labrador angel were pulling the angel strings to make sure the family found the dog, who they knew would cure her daughter’s, broken heart. Abigail fell into a restless sleep where she was visited by her mother, who told her it was alright to love again. Abigail didn’t remember the visit, but when she woke up, her mind had changed, and she accepted the dog into her heart and home.
When she woke up, the dog began to follow her around the house. She named him Shadow after his devotion and black fur. He needed a lot of tending to, which helped fill Abigail’s lost hours devoted to her mother. Shadow may be exaggerating his issues, like crying in his sleep, at Abigail’s mom’s instructions because she knows the more Abigal is needed, the better she will feel.
Now, as she heals, Shadow is Abigail’s constant companion. Shadow accompanies her on her long walks to the grave, something she could not do before he joined the family and giving her the support she needs as she improves every day.
She is also beginning to understand that Shadow’s was her mom’s final gift and maybe the best she has ever received.
For River, the first sign was a change in the smell emanating from under the house.
“That’s not Ugly Joan,” River whispered to Pocket.
The little Yorkie walked to the floor vent and took a whiff. “It smells like a cat to me.” Pocket observed.
For a dog whose nose looks like she ran snout first into a concrete monolith, River has a sense of smell like a wine connoisseur. She can detect the subtle differences in odors, able to separate everything that comprises the scent. Ugly Joan’s smell had traces of wet fur, lousy attitude, and old mice. The new aroma was a combination of hickory, pine nut, cinnamon, and poop. River knew it did not belong to Joan.
It did not take long to learn who was sleeping in Ugly Joan’s bed. The following morning as Pocket and River went to perform their morning doodies, they caught a cat with tan fur sprinkled with brown and a black and white ringed tail slinking out of Joan’s lair.
I am sure my sisters would have liked to question the new cat about how he came to live under the porch. Unfortunately, they forgot to translate their barks into words so they could be understood, and the intruder snickered over his shoulder as he disappeared under a neighboring house.
River was incensed. She vowed not to make the same mistake twice and lose control of her southern boarder. She would run this kitty off and guarantee only Joan, the rightful occupant, was the only kitty allowed to sleep there.
When they were left alone, River slid down the HVAC duct, landed in the crawlspace, and marched to where the cat was happily licking itself. River demanded to know what the interloper was doing there.
Calmly the cat explained that he had sublet the space from Ugly Joan. River told him that was impossible because she had no such right. The cat reached under the bed and pulled out of a contract. “It says right here under paragraph four subsection, line six, subsection seven, clause E of the cat-landlord agreement that the cat can do whatever she damn well pleases. Its standard language in any contract involving a cat.”
“That is ridiculous!” River shouted. “Who would be dumb enough to sign a contract like that?”
“It says Pocket T. Dog signed it.”
“Drats,” River thought. “Foiled again.” River made a note to attack Pocket in her sleep. It was something she regularly did, but now she had a purpose.”
Knowing that she could not legally evict the cat, River almost abandoned her cause when she thought of one more line of attack. “Why do you have a tail like a raccoon?” she asked.
“I am half raccoon, conceived under a full moon. My mom was a tabby named Sandy, who was a bit randy. They met once and decided to bone, and when he learned she was pregnant, he left her alone.”
“Do you know that rhymes?”
“Of course. All raccoons rhyme. We are great poets. That is why so many writers, like Robert Frost, lived in the woods. They needed raccoons to compose their verses. It is rumored that Shakespeare had one in his tool shed who wrote his greatest works. Lennon and McCartney had another named Rocky, but they fired him when he wrote a song about himself.”
“Is it hard having a raccoon for a father?”
“No, not at all. Every year on my birthday, he regurgitates trash for me to store up. Would you like to have some?”
River declined. “Well, the agreement doesn’t say anything about a raccoon living in Joan’s space,” she said
“Except for subsection 12.”
“No one wants to fight an animal with raccoon teeth and a cat’s claws.”
River had to admit the little freak was right. She returned upstairs and began to plan on Ricky raccoon-tailed cat’s subsequent eviction. Sadly, she had no idea how to make that wish a reality.
And the fight for her southern border continues.
When dogs have litters, we know we only have three months together before being separated forever. We are devoted to our people. That is why we can’t keep our babies; it is impossible to give our whole hearts to humans and kids. It is a tricky proposition.
It is even more challenging for a dog dad to maintain a relationship with his children. Most of the time, they aren’t even there when the litter is born. Their job is wham, bam, thank you, ma’am.
But, once a puppy starts becoming self-sufficient and stays with their parents, they bond, and if they are ripped apart after that, it becomes painful—the earlier the separation, the better.
Marvin, a Texas dog, was thrilled when two of his offspring stayed with him at their home. They became more like brothers than father and sons. That did not interfere with his love for their parents. But, when times became hard, their parents surrendered them.
They brought the threesome to the Doctor Dolittle Rescue. From there, Marvin was the first to find a forever home. Mattie Kahn and Jason Hellerstein adopted Marvin and brought him to their apartment in Manhatten’s Upper Westside. Marvin was thrilled to be at a new home but missed his sons, who could end up anywhere.
Not long after Marvin was adopted, his son Leo found a home with another couple on the Upper West Side. Leo’s dad contacted Dr. Doolittle for some information needed for the vet and was told that his birth father lived in the same area, and Leo’s brother was still looking for a home.
Leo’s mom had a neighbor who was looking for a dog. She asked the woman to call Dr. Doolittie and ask about the status of Leo’s son Murray. Thanks to some hard work by the volunteers at the rescue, and some angel magic, Marvin was adopted by the neighbor. On a play date, an overjoyed Murray and Leo were reunited
The two dogs were brought to the park to reunite. They were delighted to see one another again and barked, kissed, and ran in circles. All that was left was to find their dad. Their owners knew he was living in the city but could not be told the name and address. It would take some sleuthing.
Once again, we angels took control. We got Leo’s parents and Marvin’s to walk down the same street simultaneously. Leo’s mom barely paid attention to the strange dog, which he happily greeted on their walk. When Leo’s mom got a sight of the other pup, she realized it looked precisely like Leo. She asked the human on the other end of the leash how she got her little one, and within minutes they discovered the family was reunited.
Leo’s parents called Murray’s, and that weekend a dog family reunion was held at the park. It was indeed a miracle that they were reunited, but that is what we do best.
Don’t ever give up on seeing someone in your family again. Not when you have determined angels on your side.
In his life, Hershey has always been in the top one percentile. He is more loved than 99% of dogs; he is cuter, sweeter, and more brilliant. When he went to the Bridge, he did so as part of the one percent but this time in a sad way.
Hershey was confronted with a myriad of health issues when he turned 12. He had a bout of renal failure, but a switch in diet improved his condition. He also had a persistent cough, which was diagnosed as an enlarged heart. Despite these challenges, Hershey continued to act like a puppy. Of course, he was masking his infirmities to keep his mom from worrying about his deteriorating condition.
When a dog is diagnosed with heart issues, its mortal existence becomes a day-to-day proposition. Hershey’s mama Patti was determined to make each minute with him memorable for the little man who captured her heart. She obtained every needed medication, paid for prescription food, and had a ramp built next to her bed so he could climb down. She did not know it at the time, but her kindness and caring extended the number of heartbeats Hershey was assigned at birth and prolonged his life.
As time passed, Hershey’s murmur and cough grew worse. At the beginning of last week, his concerned mom took him to the vet. The doctor gave Hershey a thorough examination and determined while his murmur was worse, his lungs were clear, so he was not in heart failure. The vet prescribed medication and told mama Patti to watch over him, something she had done since he was a puppy.
The next day Hershey was his usual self. He took two walks, where he greeted the neighbors and accompanied his mom on a scooter ride. Tired, he went into the bedroom and waited for his mother to join him. Usually, after a short time, he re-emerged and insisted she accompanies him. But this time, he didn’t come back out.
She found her little love passed out on the bedroom floor, gasping. She contacted a neighbor who agreed to take them to the Emergency Vet, but Hershey had too few heartbeats left and passed en route snuggled in his favorite spot: His mom’s arms.
Upon learning of Hershey’s unfortunate passing, his vet contacted Moma Patti and informed her that sometimes a heart murmur could weaken the heart muscles, an undetectable condition. It is rare, occurring in one percent of dogs. Hershey, again, was in the top percentile, but this time he didn’t want to be.
I wish Moma Patti could witness Hershey’s crossing the Bridge, his stunning transformation from a slow-moving senior to the pup he was when he first came into her life. It may not be enough to curb Moma Patti’s sorrow, but it might do her heart well to see him reunite with the Sky, his angel sibling.
And, for the first time that I could remember, a human unrelated to the new angel was part of the welcoming committee. Angel Laura happily greeted Hershey and told him whenever he longed for a mother’s touch or a lap of kindness to come to her house where he would receive the treatment he deserved.
Since his arrival, Sky, Hershey, and the other angels whose lives were touched by Moma Patti have worked diligently to help her get through grief’s dark and silent gate and back into the sunshine where she can handle life without her handsome, joyful companion. It might take an entire village to help her, but there is one at Doggyspace always willing to help.
Judging by her sorrow, it might take all of us, but we won’t rest until she has a day where Hershey’s memories are sweet and not painful.
And hopefully, then she can love again.