It turns out my dog had an important message for me.
Photo of Kinzi by Ashley Cleland
I took her to the vet on the day of our big move. We had thought the lump was a swollen insect bite, possibly from her new backyard.
It was cancer.
I didn?t know how to tell her she was sick. So I paid a pet psychic, also known as an animal communicator, to do it for me. This is our story and what she had to say.
Kinzi adopted me to be her human when I was just a lonely graduate student. I could tell life hadn?t been kind just by looking at her. At only 2 or 3 years old, her skin was flaky, her fur was grey in many places, and many of her teeth were worn down to her gums.
She had these hauntingly human eyes even then. I always wondered what she?d seen before me.
She was heartworm positive and we began on our journey through six years of various health issues. Together we conquered the heartworms, a brown recluse bite, and one near-death experience resulting in an emergency spleen removal.
I?ve always felt so much grief about the hand she was dealt by life. It feels unfair. She is such a gentle, tender creature.
She slowly but surely learned to trust me and how to snuggle and play, but not at first. I used to wildly gesture and beg her to snuggle me on the couch. She?d tilt her head and stare at me from across the room.
Then one day it happened.
I was watching Say Yes to the Dress, she tentatively sat next to me on the couch and for the first time, oh so carefully lowered her head to rest her chin in my lap. Many snuggles have followed over the years and she is now a world champion snuggler.
Over time, her fur became more like a ginger snap, she developed a voracious appetite, and she had a pep in her step.
She adopted my husband into our pack a few years later. We became an inseparable trio, taking her on vacation with us to the mountains and the beach.
Kinzi enjoying the beach
Like many millennials, we?ve been working hard for a backyard Kinzi would enjoy for years. We made that dream a reality amid a pandemic of all things. A strange time sure, but Kinzi didn?t care. She just wanted to dig up all the flower beds and sunbathe on the porch.
There is a special grief when you finally get your dog the backyard of their dreams only to learn about life-threatening disease.
Universe! I wanted to shout. We have paid our dues! How can this be the way her life ends?
Our grief about this was huge, but even more so I hated that I couldn?t tell her what was going on.
So I hired an animal communicator. We?ll call her Amy.
My therapist even suggested it, thinking it could bring me some peace.
There is so much uncertainty in the world right now, I legitimately wondered if I could handle another slice of uncertainty pie. I am full! I?ve had enough. No seconds for me, please.
My husband and I huddled together, phone on speaker, listening intently. Amy talked to Kinzi remotely and relayed the pictures and thoughts that Kinzi was sharing with her.
She shared with us images of Kinzi?s life before us and her thoughts about how humans were unpredictable and sometimes mean in the beginning. She likes most humans now but really loves her humans.
There were things she knew about our life and about Kinzi that were mind-blowing. I was surprisingly bought in even though I?m an educator and an academic. I?m not very woo woo. My husband was skeptical but supportive.
She said Kinzi knew she was sick and was in pain, but only sometimes.
I was relieved. She knew.
And then Amy tried to sell me something, making a comment about ?new age? medicine that could help with cancer.
My heart sank. I did not make eye contact with my husband. I was feeling so much peace already from our conversation. I couldn?t bear the thought that I?d been swindled by someone preying upon grieving people.
Despite my reservations, I politely declined and pressed on. I asked Amy about what was on her dog ?bucket list? and Kinzi?s requests were so simple: Time outside to feel the wind and smell things. Maybe wind chimes to listen to in the backyard while sunbathing.
The tears came full force when Amy relayed an important message from Kinzi. ?The biggest thing she wants you to know? she is saying ?I?m a survivor. I?m tough and don?t count me out yet. You?re a survivor too.? She knows, she says she?s seen you survive so much.?
As a survivor and a trauma-informed educator, I am surrounded by survivors.
I work with survivors of sexual violence, my mother is a breast cancer survivor, my in-laws are both cancer survivors, and many of my close friends are survivors of harassment, abuse, and violence.
I never really thought about it but it turns out this also includes my dog.
From her life, I?ve learned there is no deductible on pain and suffering. You don?t ever just ?pay your dues?. You keep surviving until its time to move on.
She doesn?t dwell on the past or wax poetic about the ?why?. To survive, she had her leg amputated. Six days later, she is hopping around, playing, and enjoying the wind in her face and snuggling on the couch.
She was right. She survived and has a great prognosis. We?re all still here.
Life is heartbreaking and wonderful at the same time. Listen to the wind chimes and feel the sun on your fur. May we all embrace life like dogs.
?Everything you imagine is real.? ? Pablo Picasso
Maybe animal communicators/pet psychics are real, maybe they aren?t.
What is definitely real though ? this dog is a survivor. I am too.
And that reminder for the journey ahead is worth every penny.
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