My Abbey, it’s been six months

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Loss of a Beloved is Like nothing else in life. It’s been six months or so since my little ray of light left this earth – and I’m  still brought to my knees every time I look at a photo of her.
I can only probably think of her about five minutes a day and then my heart breaks and I push the grief away.
Where is she? Where did she go? Is she safe? Is she with my other children? Is she at peace? Is she free? Does she see and feel me?.

The biggest thing I think about is how much I don’t want her to come back in another body on this planet. I find this planet quite excruciatingly painful with its myriad of challenges. I’m really hoping that she stays in that blissful unconditional love and presence plane that I know she is abiding in . It’s a crazy thought because I have no control over her soul. I just want her to never feel pain, loss, worry if I am not physically there to be her mama.

These are the things I ponder alone at night. All of my beautiful beautiful Beloveds that are no longer with me. I pray with every ounce of my being that they are for ever free and safe in God’s  loving embrace. Until we meet again

My painful trigger

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Having a dog that won’t eat, for me, is like having a child with anorexia .
It started with my beloved stoic strong Madeline many years ago where she went 13 days without eating. Those 13 days were pure hell. I tried everything with her – McDonald’s, barbecue, home cooked meats and she barely ate anything for 13 days.
I remember sobbing and holding her. We did a battery of tests and finally an endoscopy revealed fairly significant inflammatory bowel disease. We were already fighting her mast cell cancer so this was a  diagnosis which freaked me out- now 2 serious diseases to contend with.
Once we got her on the right restricted diet and added it in a high dose of prednisone to reduce the inflammation in her bowels – she started to eat. For the next several years – she would have flareups and I would end up hand feeding her often, sobbing on the kitchen floor.

Then came my little angel Abbey’s diagnosis of kidney disease. For years she was not really that affected but the last three years or more – we saw specialists. and Things began to look eerily similar to my Madeline’s plight. Kidney disease affects the appetite and the dog must be on a low protein low phosphorus diet. Once again our meal times were the center of my days – often wrought  with anxiety.

A good day was determined by how much she ate.

The last year got really bad . I can’t  bear to relive it in this blog in full but I will say we fought so hard. We fought with all of our might. My little ray of light.

Recently Patrick started showing signs of inappetence and I immediately had an increase in anxiety. Here we go again I thought. Why won’t my child eat?!  Once again I was hand feeding him on the kitchen floor – cooking all kinds of organic meats but he still turned away.
More tests and finally an ultrasound showed low level inflammatory bowel disease. The same disease as my Madeline. It was not significant yet but because he is a very sensitive boy – any nausea or discomfort made him not want to eat.
We put him on budesonide – a steroid for the gut and on a very strict rabbit meat only diet and within two days he was eating. I was overjoyed. We now have days where I still have to hand feed him. I don’t hesitate. As soon as I see him unsure about eating – I just sit down lovingly with him and hand feed him canned rabbit and Kibble.

And karma would have it – Bernadette Rose has shown inappetence. I think she might be following Patrick’s anxiety around food. She really looks up to him. I’m doing everything as consciously as possible to not project my own anxiety. That is no easy task.  I sometimes hand feed her as well. I remain extremely calm and gently encouraging. Maybe she will need testing one day too.

Yes I strive always to be a strong assertive leader and hand feeding my dogs is not in contradiction to this position.  I will do anything for my dogs well-being. I will go to the ends of the earth for them, always. I love them with every ounce of my being. They are my children after all❤

Hardass with an ever softening heart

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 I’ve become a hard ass in many ways in my approach to working with people. I’ve been doing this almost 20 years, and my behavior and belief  system, many years ago working with my own trainer/teacher are exactly the same that I see in most of my clients.
I  can pretty much end my clients sentences because I know what they’re going to say -when it comes to why they can’t do it, why it isn’t working, why it’s so hard… Because I used to say the very same things to Alon!

I  can walk into a house with a troubled dog and owner  and see everything crystal-clear without the client telling me much at all.  I see the hindrances. and I see the potential solutions. The last few years I’ve become really straightforward .  I do this because I’m here in the bay area for a limited time now and I honestly just want to cut through the crap  of our own self-imposed prisons and to help people see the larger vision that can lead to so much miraculous change 🙏

BUT  I have been thinking the last several days  ( and want this expressed here) -I have often have no idea what is going on in someone’s heart and life.   I have no idea that maybe they lost their best friend. Maybe they lost their job. Maybe they found out their husband is leaving them. Maybe I need to lay off in my judgment and teaching when they’re showing resistance. Maybe I need to stop being a hard ass for a moment and just be quiet and listen.

Just because I’m a hard ass, doesn’t mean that I should not pause and remind myself that someone could be having a very hard day or a very hard moment in their lives and to keep my heart wide open.  Sometimes being the “expert”  means lovingly and compassionately accepting the student, without needing to teach her anything in that moment❤

The Grief Circle for Gracie, Sesame, Pippin, Abbey, Skyy and Moose

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Several wonderful women and I held a grief circle to honor our Beloveds that have passed . I made an altar with photos, flowers and candles. We listened to a few beautiful songs,  We had a 5 minute silent meditation to focus on connecting with our beloveds, and then one at a time, we  shared   We all held a sacred space for each of us to cry, express grief and sadness, as well as celebrate the miraculous love we have for our beloveds.  Then we did a red circle grief ritual, lead by Ruth.  It was a tying  and connecting together of red yarn in solidarity of our expressed grief.

I am profoundly moved by these amazing women, who have the courage and strength to bare our broken hearts.  Thank you for this precious gift of connectedness.

Passion or Burden?

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Being a good dog trainer ,whose specialty is aggression ,fear and anxiety , involves becoming quite intimate with the owner (s)
It is very similar to entering into a therapeutic relationship, with a  social worker or therapist.
I work with people that consider their dogs their children. Just like I do.
And their child is acting up aggressively, violently, anxiously, fearfully .
and they do not know how to make it right.  I do.  I have the ability now after many many years of honing my skill- to see, feel and grasp what can be done to right the dog, in most circumstances.  There must be said that there are some innate drives in dogs that will override even the strongest hand and correction.
Their dog is a reflection of them, just like a child. And when that reflection is a violent one – it’s full of shame, guilt, doubt, frustration. Everyone looks at an aggressive dog and wants to run the other way.

And then I am called . This initial phone call to me is usually  wrought  with great emotion and fear . I want to help because I understand.

I hear their stories and their  stories were my story ,many years ago. I feel empathetic. I understand the worry, the stress, the anxiety.

And I say yes to being their dog trainer
And then begins very interesting, often intense process between dog, owner and I.

I become intertwined in their lives for weeks, months,  sometimes  years.
There  have been numerous miraculous shifts  that inspire me. The combination of intuitive understanding, patience, deliberate correction, and encouragement within a program.
These all  become this miraculous recipe that leads to transformation. Those programs I will celebrate forever. There have been many and those owners often become my dear friends. We are kindred souls. We have been through the fire together. We understand what it takes to shift an  aggressive violent dog and they dive in wholeheartedly. I bow to them.

Yet then there are many more times where I am taxed, emotionally drained and exhausted from the process of working with the human. I’m supposed to be their savior. I’m supposed to make everything right in their world yet  they have very little understanding that this is an intuitive process that requires an extreme discipline of action, leadership and introspection.  and they are unwilling, unable and resistant to truly change

They are too vulnerable to hold themselves accountable,  so they  blame the dog or they blame me.

I’ve been doing this almost 20 years and as much as was born to do this.

In so many ways, it’s starting to take a toll. How do I keep doing what I’m doing and not feel my life force dwindling when someone is not satisfied. When someone is not realistic. when someone is irrational ,when someone makes me the savior that can’t save them??

This is why I contemplate a serious life changes. When does one’s  passion become a burden?

My shift inward

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For the last 30 years, I have been on a spiritual quest.  It’s been a windy road filled with loss, angst, anxiety and growth.  This past year, 2017 was my dark night of the soul. I am private in these matters, but it is enough to say, that I was hurting deeply psychically and spiritually.  It all came to a head the first 15 days of 2018.  My Abbey was declining.  My entire days were filled with so much worry. The worry of a mama is like no other.  I was tired, skinny, anxious and overworked.  I came down with the terrible flu that so many had.  It was the sickest I have ever been with a flu.  I was bed ridden for several days, delerious for a few and Abbey and Patrick hunkered down with me. I was in an altered world of sickness, fear, and true surrender.

Looking back on those 15 days, I know that Abbey was moving back and forth between worlds.  The AfterLife of All-That-Is Good and this life- where her mama was weak and scared.  It is truly humbling to live alone and worry that you could actually die alone….  Abbey was preparing to depart.  She was sleeping so much more, that deep kind of sleeping that instills a sense of wonder in where the sleeper is abiding.   I know she was communicating and in touch with Madeline.  Madeline was preparing her to return Home.  But my Abbey was worried about me.  I had been putting myself through so much this last year.  Hidden from many but not my 2 dogs.  They felt and sensed all my woes.

These 2 weeks are very hard for me to write about.  Because it brings me back there.  We were a pack of 3, so tightly bonded in our silent world of infinite understanding and unconditional love. The hastening was coming.  The hastening of my own breakthrough from the dark night which then brought the hastening of my Beloved’s readiness to leave me and return Home.  My Abbey did not leave me until she got 100% definitive signs from me and from God that I was going to be OK.  She left with a huge sigh of relief. Her whole being was ready, so ready….but she would not die until she knew I was standing on solid ground.   and I was…fragile but standing.

Since her passing, so much light is entering my life.  The light of pure goodness and joy of Bernandette Rose. Her rescue was my resurrection.

and then something even more mysterious….This subtle yet so palpable shift into the Silence of God.  How do I explain it?  Okay, let me try.  Imagine me-  a human being that has run fast and anxious her entire life.  My anxiety and OCD has also brought fits of brilliance of intuition and knowledge about dogs.  This brought me my career!  The only time I could touch this silence within is when I am fully present, teaching and working a dog.  It- is -being -done -through -me.  Not unlike a painter, a writer,a dancer.  But then the other 90% of my days are anxious, running late, losing things, cleaning too much organizing beyond a necessity and on and on.

and then Abbey passed..Grief hit hard…Bernadette found me.  and I woke up one day about 2 weeks ago, and said to myself- I feel the Silence.

Oh My God.  It is hastening.  That which I have always craved and only read about in old spiritual texts.  I have experienced a dipping in to the Eternal.  The anxious me is not me.  I watch the anxious me from a vantage point right above me, without judgement or shame.  The I that is watching is the same I that can speak to a dog with my touch, my presence and my compassionate heart.

and then I wake up, drink too much coffee, curse at someone that is pissing me off, and I am human again.   and the Silence watches that too.

Hurricane Bernadette

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This was not supposed to happen. This was the last thing that was on my mind. I had processed for months and months – I don’t want another dog. I want a different life. I want to be more unencumbered. I want more freedom, less stress, less responsibility. The last year or more with, my ray of light, Abbey was so trying. Just like my last year with Madeline. Just like my last year with Lucille. Just like my last year with Benjamin. Just like my last year with Coda. Chronic illnesses and diseases that took all of my heart; all my time; all my money. I gave it my all, and I don’t know how I survived every one of those diseases. How I survived every one of those deaths. They take so much from me. The last thing I wanted was another dog.

I was so defiantly against getting another dog. I seriously don’t know why all this happened. Why the hell did Bernadette enter my life like a tsunami? Why ???

The last year with my Abbey took all of my life force fighting a chronic disease; It’s not for the faint of heart. Fighting a chronic illness for a creature you love with your entire being can break you. It plummeted me into depresssion and panic attacks . My whole life revolved around her care. I had to cut back on work because of the hours of medical management at home. I am not complaining in the least. I would not have it any other way ever. IV fluids, sub q fluids, 23 medications and supplements daily, extended hospital stays, waking up multiple times a night to let her out and check on her.  Every single moment I would do over 1000 times for my little ray of light.

But eventually, she had had enough. She was so tired of her old, sick body. She was ready to fly free, to fly Home to re-join the Kear pack. I do not doubt that Madeline, her very best friend  and older sister,  was the first to welcome her Home.

It’s been only a little over two months since she passed and then the luck dragon, who I named Bernadette, came flying into my life.  in a clumsy submissive insecure sweet, sweet way. She’s so earnest to love and to be loved  that it breaks my heart. I get the sense she was ignored a lot in her previous life. She craves to be close to me.
It’s a massive shift in my life plan to adopt this girl. I had no desire to add another dog. I have significant changes in my future.   My hope for the future includes , a move to a quieter area and  a new creative business with my BFF Stephanie .  This means a massive restructuring in heart, home and work.   All of this, I believe, required me to be less burdened with responsibility.

But life had other plans.

And then there’s Patrick. My quirky, weird, sensitive, insecure Patrick. He’s freaked out by Bernadette. He’s stressed out. He’s unsure. He’s worried.  It breaks my heart. I want to protect him and let him know he’s my number one.  He will come with me every day and continue to be my right-hand man. I only ask that he will, in time, accept her as a big clumsy younger sister who wants 2  things – to be accepted by him and to be loved by me.

My family will always be – Abbey, my precious sunshine girl ,was my little daughter in life and death.   As is my Coda, my Lucille, my Madeline, and my stoic proud son, Benjamin.

I hope they were the ones that brought this angel, Bernie Rose,  into my life. All I want is their blessing.

With their blessing, We carry on.

Abbey- She was everything that is good

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Her long piano fingers did not fit the rest of her body.   She had a stout football players body with these long elegant toes

When she was near me, she needed to touch me. with one of her front paws. and she also wanted me to touch her.  she just wanted to feel my body on her in some small way

Her squawk when she wanted something.  she would just lay on her bed and squawk at me, beckoning me to come to her

she loved to squeeze tennis balls in her mouth.  she looked like she was eating a devilish chocholate cake , in so much bliss.
How she loved me most of all. she really really only wanted her mama
 She corrected dogs verbally with a loud squeech. she never ever hurt them but her squeech was as effective as a bite.
She flirted with many dogs.   standing stiff for one second then loose wag body flriting. a cougar girl.
Years ago, when she was in the foster home-  and I went to pick up Sonny to walk, she did not yet go with me- but she still ALWAYS ran to the fence when she saw me arrive, with a huge red kong in her mouth and shook it right at me,  with a serious shine in her eyes and massive grin on her face
She had a small unique group of people she just adored. Silvia,  Kate, Beth.   She just lit up when she saw them.  Others she liked or was neutral about
She also made it clear when she was not so sure about someone.  spatially sensitive .  do not kiss her right on the head if she does not know you well.   who would do that ?!  she never ever bit but she sure did do a surprisingly snap
Her first foster mom ,Astrid says about her – “Oh Abbey!! What a special great girl! The first memory that springs to mind is her first day with me when she slept for over 12 hours straight! I would go to check on her, wondering if she was alright and then she would let out this big deep snore!”
She and Madeline were instant friends.  no tension ever. The older  wise sister was always thougthful and strong in her abiding subtle advocacy of Abbey
Patrick annoyed her and enthralled her.  total kindred souls. they existed in the same silent world. she “got him”.  and she taught him a lot.  he trusted her above all else.  never an aggression. Siblings for sure
She knew when I was not okay. that is all.  she knew and it worried her a lot. she could not be herself or relax when I was not okay
That HUGE smile.  it took over her whole face.
The day she went through Sarah’s window. ( foster time years ago). because Sarah left with her dog Maddox.  and she was very anxious. and then once outside on the Oakland street- she saw a cat and took detour from the anxiety 🙂  she brought out the whole neighborhood.  She had the cat cornered under a car. the cat was just scratching her face over and over again.  Abbey got all the wounds and the cat- nada.  but the people outside saw a bloody pit and called the police!  Sarah turned around and got Miss Abbey out of her adventure.
She veered toward people on her walks only if she wanted to get pet.  Usually the person would have already been making their way to her. and then she was so so subtle in askng for attention- she would just stand silently right next to them. they often needed me to tell them that she wanted to get pet.  and then she would not move from them.  so stubborn to me and welcoming to them.
Another thing she did in her last year or so , when she did not want to walk anymore- she would act overly interested in sniffing a bush.  like it was the best smelling bush that she had to spend minutes at, she just was using it as a distraction from walking more
She resisted the wagon years ago when she had a acl tear, she tried to jump right out. the last several months here. 2017- she loved the wagon. she got right in and snuggled down in the blanket. It became her throne.
How her big tongue hung out to the side or in front ( the front tip) when she was oh- so- satisfied
The front of her tongue had was cut off from the cat, under the car, biting or scratching at it.  her battle scar!
Her big snoopy nose
When she completely rolled in dank mud and looked exactly like a pig
She barked orders at me. when she wanted attention, when she wanted to get up from her bed, when she was lonely for me
Her old lady waddle walk.
She loved for me to provoke with the big broom.  she hated and loved that broom
She was so  dog appropriate. her deafness had no deficiency.  she was perfect in her posture and communication to all dogs.  standing still, wag, flirt, sqwak.  all her communication had no conflict. super super clear
She was an old lady and did the cross country trip 2016 summer like a fucking warrior
Her almond shaped eyes
The day in the hills she got out of my truck , unloading the pack dogs,, no vibrating collar on!  and meandered away for a good long while . Oh I my heart! then she literally just meandered back to the truck in her own good time; ( our first month together)
 She would fall over like a weeble wobble. ( when we began to play and she would lose balance).  it hurt my heart so much to see her fall.  but how she got right back up and wanted to play- in true Bull Terrier spirit
One time, early in her adoption ,Lucille went after her  strong, fight ensued for freakin 1 minute because Abbey, 1/2 Lucille’s size, was on top of her and giving it back to her hard.  It surprised the hell out of Lucille and fight ended.   There was never another fight again between these 2 bull heads
 She waddled down the ramps slow .  how she would often not come back up but wait for me to get her from the side. I never quite understood why
 I hung ropes from many trees hidden off trails in various east bay parks and she KNEW a hundred or more yards from the various spots that we were approaching the rope in the tree and she would start waddling/running , so so excited, and by the time I would catch up with her, she was either hanging by the rope or if she could not catch it- she was screeching like a banshee to try to get it.   people might pass by and they either laughed or looked very concerned.  One of my best memories ever!
 The Sausal Creek trail rope swings were her favorite.  She and Lucille would be be making so much noise.  Lucille was barking like a maniac AT ABBEY, loving her intense fixation. Abbey would scoff at her with a big quick  verbal correction when Lucille started jumping too close to her rope cause all Abbey cared about was getting that rope.  Pretty amazing that a Bull Terrier and a American Bulldog in the height of adreneline never once fought. I think Lucille admired Abbey so much in these moments of Bullish tenacity!
Her big pink belly
Her short stout body
Her soft white coat
 She loved intact male dogs. in her senior years especially- so freaking cute to see her go from hum drum on a walk and then we encounter a dog with balls, and she perks right up.  looking good lady.  doing her very best flirting poses.  she did this with many other dogs too, puppies- she loved them. she really was a dog’s dog.  more at ease with dogs,  a bit particular with us humans.
She loved riding up front with me.  After Lucille and Madeline passed,she took over co-pilot. oftentimes her head on my lap.
She would voraciouly hump me when she was so excited, usually when I got home, sometimes when she was nervous like at the vets. she always had a good solid grip on me,  she was a hoot!  when she would see me bend over on my knees, she would often try to get on me.  i joked that I should put this on my dog training you tube channel. she did not do it to dominate , I honestly think she just need to express her andrenalized JOY at seeing me come home.  she would also occasionally bite nibble between my shoulder blades when she was on me. so inappropriate!
The way she ran, like a little mechanical dog.  I used the remote colllar on her, the months before she passed to ensure she would follow me. -it was like operating a mechanical dog. she is not moving, I press a button for vibrate  and she starts to move like a perfectly obedient mechanical dog.
People were very drawn to her in her old age. She had her big flower collar on , often a pink coat, and she was very slow.  she would gravitate toward any human that was looking at her sweetly . when she got to them, she would just stand there, and they did not quite know what to make of that. I told them she was asking to be pet.  and so they pet her, and the whole while, she is just standing there still while they pet her. and then she won’t leave them,  she does not kiss them or really look at them, but she continues to stand stoically enjoying every moment.
She tolerated every needle, medicine, probing that I had to do to her the last year with her kidney disease. oh it was so so hard on us.   but she never once tried to bite me. she never would. I was her mama after all. I am so sorry my dear little girl for all those needles. I just wanted you to feel as well as possible.
Her gummy mouth,  all her teeth were worn out.  gummy lovey mouth . she liked to do corn row nibbles on me when she was expressing big love.
Her snore. especially when the last little bit of her tongue hung out.
The depth of devotion she had for me.  I was her everything. I was her mama. her protector, her best friend.  I will cherish every precious moment with you my baby girl.

Through everything, You 3 grew me

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Every moment, every aggression , every  mistake, every correction, every touch, every sickness, every frailty, every  needle at the end –
You precious 3 grew me.
Until we meet again my Beloveds

Part two

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I don’t know how long Madeline was talking to me while the three others status in silent meditation next to her but at some point I saw a very bright light in my minds eye
It was yellow and orange in hue and I had suddenly taken over my closed eyes.

Was certainly aware that I was at the dentist and I was in the chair and I remember asking him if he had suddenly turned on the light and he said no. The light stayed. I remember being babies in an incredible feeling of warmth and joy and love.
It was a complete radical departure from the panic and anxiety that my body and mind was having just a short time before
I’ve never been able to pray myself out of a panic or anxiety attack. I’ve never been able to breathe myself out of one. They’ve always happened and they suck
And anxiety attack is just extreme anxious thinking and overwhelm. A panic attack feels like you may die physically. I had to on my cross country trip and one in my Berkeley apartment about a month ago. This fourth one was thwarted by Madeline’s arrival

I find it really interesting that she was the abiding presence in this spectacular experience. Because in life – she was The most quiet and on the sidelines out of all of my dogs. She was the one that not many new intimately besides my mom, Kate and myself. Those three people mattered the most to her. She was my Buddha girl. Stoic, quiet and supremely enlightened. But no one really knew it because of her apparent detached nature.
I think she was just ABIDING in PURE CONSCIOUSNESS the entire time she lived on this earth.
The others – Benjamin, Lucille and Coda played a very important role in this direct experience. It’s like they were backing up Madeline. They were there as reinforcement for her message.

The message was and will always be-

We are never separate from you. We are always in you, with you and forever for you. There is no separation. there is no death. There is just pure abiding consciousness and love. Rest in this knowledge and may you find peace

At some point – the procedure ended and I came back to the chair.
I was excited and I think I said something like that “something happened to me ,something happened to me ,I don’t think you will believe me but Angels came to me”
The dentist said something disregarding like – “whatever you needed to make you come down I’m glad it helped”
We had a longer conversation afterwords and he told me he was a Buddhist. I told him that what happened to me was not religious and had no god really. And I try to explain it to him and I think we found a middle ground but ultimately it really doesn’t matter because what I experienced will be forever held in my heart as the deepest truth of who I am