By Rachana*

My lovely pet Tango went on his eternal journey on 23rd of January; he was 16 years old. His death was not a shock for me; I have been priming my mind to face the dreadful day, but I was not equipped for processing the sadness that his death would engulf me in, I stood witness to the grief of my other pet Sikander; regrettably, I did not have a witness to my grief.

 David Kessler quotes “In Grief everyone needs one Witness”. 

Sikander was 40 days old, when I held this tiny fluffy puppy in my arms, I expected magic in his eyes, but there was none; rather he was uncertain and scared. Today, he is 16 years old with few health issues and we share an extraordinary bond. 

Tango was my rescue baby; he came to me at the age of five after being forsaken by his owners. When our eyes locked for the first time there was magic untold.

 Henceforth, we were a small family of three, our own holy trinity.

 Time was in a haste, they both were teenagers now, Tango’s long locks swept the floor, his clumsiness was adorable, his sluggishness was getting apparent, one morning he chased squirrels and the same evening he was diagnosed with 2 heart valves malfunction… his life changed so did mine, his health parameters were declining fast, he started showing signs of progressive dementia, stiff joints, and tooth decay, by the end of his 14th year he was diagnosed with kidney stones, his frail little body was unable to take the burden of multiple diseases.

I knew that our days together are numbered, we three started bonding on soul level more often, we went for long drives, and talked a lot about our love for each other, the nights ended with hugs, kisses and prayers. Winters were setting in and very soon it was freezing cold, which lead to the last blow to his frail body, his chest congestion refused to go, very soon he was barely a skeleton. 

“I want him to be in my arms when it’s time” I demanded of God. 

Fortnight before he died was emotionally and physically charged for three of us. He couldn’t go to park anymore, his walk was wobbly, but he never soiled his bed; not often he would respond to my caresses. By middle of January 2021, he refused food completely, his organs were shutting down, he wanted to drop his body, and cross the rainbow bridge; 22nd January was a particularly difficult one, his responses dwindled. In panic, I turned to my friend Shilpa who is an animal communicator, requested her for a quick reading, she informed me that Tango is refusing communication with her. It was rather painful to see him prepare for his next journey. 23rd January we were to visit the doctor… while grooming him in the morning, I hugged him close to my heart. 

Thereafter, the events that unfolded on 23rd January were led by Tango’s soul; he made me pack everything I would need for his last rites, including a crisp white organza shroud and my prayer book. Tango’s breathing was shallow but he was responding to my touch. Sikander was supportive and dignified throughout.

Tango was left with few gossamer thin breaths; I was oblivious that these are our last few minutes together. The good doctor immediately attended to Tango; Sikander and I were with him on the table, he looked into my eyes, exactly in the way he had looked at me when I saw him for the first time, it was a magical moment, there was a hiccup, and he was gone forever. We three were together; his last breath went into mine. I was witnessing my worst nightmare, “I am sorry, he had a heart attack” the doctor informed me. Tango was free from all the physical pain, his passion for chasing squirrels, can be now resumed afresh.

 We three, now and forever, were united in spirit, amen!

The days that followed were full of sadness and agonizing grief. Sikander waited for Tango to come back; watching him in agony, was a torture. I spent hours reading about healing the grief; I kept fluctuating between all the five stages of grief in a single day.

Friends & family who knew my connection with Tango stayed silent, no phone calls, no condolence messages, few of them who took the effort to text or call said, “It’s just a dog, get another one”… “He is in a better place, you take care of Sikander for he too is ageing and has little time with you”… “You are overreacting, it’s destined that they will die, we all will die, and he had a rich life with you for 16 years”.

 Really… Just a dog?

A dog who gave me unconditional love, protected me, followed me everywhere for the fear of losing sight of me… who never judged me, got smitten when I was upset, wanted me more than anything else in the world, my voice was a jingle to his ears.

Is he Just a dog?

As my mourning period was coming to an end, I had an epiphany, I came across David Kessler’s book – it spoke about finding meaning in the life of the deceased – this book convinced me that Tango had a purpose in my life, and there was meaning in his love, not in his death.

 Finding meaning in Tango’s life became my purpose, I decided to reach out to other pet parents who might be alone in their grief; through intensive surveys and research, I developed a project offering grief support to pet parents. This project has been developed keeping in mind all aspects of psychological and spiritual healings. The duration of the program will rest on the needs of the pet parent. The idea behind this project is to create a safe and loving community for pet parents. The sessions conducted by me will be free of cost.

 David Kessler rightly says “Death does not have any meaning, their life has”.

*Author is a practicing Spiritual Psychotherapist and has a YouTube channel & a YouTube Magazine ‘The Spiritual Citizen’. She can be reached at presentmomentsbyrachana@yahoo.com.

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