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    How Benny Became an Angel

    Tuesday, February 5, 2008, 1:01 PM [General]
    Posted By: AngelAnimals

    HOW BENNY BECAME AN ANGEL

    By Ron House

     

    It might sound crazy for me to say this, but for the last two weeks of Benny's life, I watched as he transformed into an angel.

     

    Benny and Scotty were my wife Gitie's and my two beautiful dogs. They were twins who had been with us since we adopted them as puppies thirteen years earlier. Three months before his death, we found out that Benny had cancer with only a short while to live. It seemed as if Benny would leave us at any time. But suddenly, Scotty developed symptoms. Within a week of our finding out about Benny's disease, Scotty had also passed away from cancer.

     

    For his entire life Scotty had been a supremely happy and fun-loving dog, a complete clown. He didn't let us down even at the very end, using his absolute last ounce of strength to put on one of his clown faces that always made us laugh.

     

    Scotty had always done everything before Benny. We jokingly assumed that, given his pattern, Scotty had jumped into the next world before Benny, mainly to keep us from breaking down under the grief of losing him. And we still had the sorrowful prospect of looking after Benny in his final days.

     

    Gitie had a job in Sydney, a thousand miles away, and needed to be away from home a lot. But she managed to get back in time to return for Scotty's last day. Within a few short days, Benny was also sinking fast. To save him from more suffering, we at last called in our long-time veterinarian friend to help him.

     

    But Benny had different ideas. No sooner had our friend arrived, than Benny got a second wind. He was obviously not ready yet to give up on life, notwithstanding the pain that he must have been in.

     

    Many will say we should have put him out of his misery then and there, but we trusted Benny's judgment. We remembered that Benny had done something quite remarkable years earlier. He had been diagnosed with what the vet specialists had said was an inevitably fatal disease that would take away use of his hind legs. The vets had all given up hope of any recovery, and Benny was in great pain.

     

    When we discussed euthanasia back then, Benny had listened to us. Then he got up and walked on his front legs alone. He held his rear legs high in the air to show us he hadn't given up.

     

    We trusted him, and Benny had gone on to recover completely and live another seven happy years. So with that experience behind us, we had to let Benny make the decision again. For a second time, he seemed determined to hold on to life for a while.

     

    It turned out that his remaining mission was to teach us about life and death. As the days passed, I watched his face. To me, it seemed that it was transforming. Slowly, it was changing from the face of an ordinary dog into that of one who understood a deep mystery. He appeared to be a dog full of love, whose mission, far from comforting his own pain, was to comfort us.

     

    Gitie had to return to Sydney for a few days, and Benny and I spent a quiet time together each day. In the evening he would eat his bone outside the study door where I worked. I would bring him inside the study for a while. Then he would go out again to have bit more of his bone.

     

    The neighbor's dog Rusty had discovered Benny wasn't his vigilant self and had taken to sneaking over and stealing Benny's bone. One night, after I brought Benny inside, I heard someone in the yard. I thought it must be Rusty. I decided to say boo and stop him from

    pinching Benny's bone. But Benny had gone outside again without my knowing, and in fact it was him, not Rusty, chewing the bone.

     

    I parted the blinds to look outside. It was pitch black with no streetlights. In that inky blackness, I saw an angel, shining brilliantly like fiery gold. Yes, actually shining, and illuminating his surroundings. The angel smiled at me with a smile so full of love and goodness that my heart felt as if it were bursting. I felt unable to hold so much love coming at me with such intensity.

     

    I could no longer doubt that the transformation I thought I had detected was real. As Benny prepared for entering his next phase of life, he was also transforming. He was leaving the ordinary behind and becoming, for want of a better expression, a holy one.

     

    I had never even had the idea enter my head before then that an animal could be an angel. Benny gave me no choice but to think about it, and eventually to accept it. But he hadn't finished teaching us yet.

     

    When Gitie returned home, she noticed that the little magpie our two dogs had met some months earlier was still here and keeping Benny company. Benny let the magpie eat his bone and kept the big magpies from forcing his little friend away. He got the greatest happiness from watching over his tiny friend, whom we named Maggie. (You

    can see the only photo we managed to take of the incident at our website, wingedhearts.org.)

     

    Finally Benny's strength completely failed. It became obvious from his face that the pain was too much. He was now ready to go, so we called our vet friend again.

     

    The next morning after Benny's passing, the neighbor's horses came to our fence and whinnied at us. They were offering condolences for losing their friend, who used to run up and down the fence-line to play with them.

     

    Then Maggie, the little magpie, came to the clothesline and sat upon it. He looked into the window at me and called with a sharp, heart- rending cry. I knew he was saying how sad he was at losing Benny and Scotty.

     

    It was then that we realized we had to get to know our dogs' friend. While I was at work, Gitie started feeding little Maggie and getting to know him. This led to Maggie's opening up for us the incredible world of birds, with their friendships, codes of conduct, families, care, and love.

     

    We are documenting on our website all the wonderful things that Maggie has taught us since Benny and Scotty's passing. Instead of grief, our lives are filled with happiness and joy. This is the gift to us from our two angel animals who watch over us to this day and never let us feel that we are alone.

     

    BIO:

    Ron House is an author and university teacher who has now unwittingly become a student of the native Australian birds around his home in southern Queensland, Australia. With Gitie House he co-founded the website wingedhearts.org devoted to understanding and friendship with wild birds. He writes on science, computing, ethical philosophy, nature, and many other topics. He is the author of a textbook on programming. Ron is one of the discoverers of the atmosphere of Pluto.

     

    SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT:

     Has an animal become an angel in your life? Has one animal led you to meeting and appreciating another animal?
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    The Voice of a Golden

    Tuesday, February 5, 2008, 1:00 PM [General]
    Posted By: AngelAnimals

    THE VOICE OF A GOLDEN

    By Chrissy K. McVay

     

    When our golden retriever, Angel Michelle, was diagnosed with bone cancer in June of 2007 my family was devastated.  She was only eight years old, and except for the slight swelling on her right knee, she looked and behaved normal.

     

    Angel had always been a healthy dog, though a bit nervous about loud noises. From the time she was a puppy we were careful not to yell at one another because we might upset the dog, which proves pets help us become better people.

     

    She's the only dog I've ever had who gives a toothy smile, puckers the skin between her eyes when she's fretful, and grumbles like a parakeet trying to talk.  We swear some of those grumbles are identifiable as words.  How could we cope with losing such a personality in the family?

     

    While watching Angel sleep one morning, I suddenly realized that I've learned more about living life from my dog than any human could've taught me.  She was in deep slumber when her legs started moving, and her tail gave a twitchy thump.  I was certain Angel dreamed she was running down one of the many trails we'd taken her on before

    her cancer days. Perhaps she was swimming in the lakes we now took her to so she could exercise without putting weight on the tumor. I saw a very happy, peaceful dog at that moment.  All the memories we'd built with her were stockpiles of priceless gifts she could re-visit endlessly in her mind, despite her ailing body.

     

    I realized we'd done things right with her, and our children, in taking the time out of our busy lives to build lots of wonderful memories.  Those memories would be there for us, ready to draw upon after we too are at an age when physical disabilities might permanently limit our mobility.

     

    Had a human told me this nugget of wisdom, I would've rolled my eyes and thought they read too many self-help books.  Dogs are so much better at telling us what we really need to hear. And their timing is often at that perfect moment when we feel we cannot cope with tragedy.

     

    I no longer cry over how Angel isn't expected to live past Christmas. She's reminded me over and over how wonderful her life has been, and that it's enough for her to just lay on my lap, enjoying quality time.

     

    I'll never forget the day we had to increase Angel Michelle's pain medication, because she was having a "bad cancer day."  She reached out and licked my chin, peering up at me with eyes that told me; "I know you're doing everything you can for me. And it's enough."

     

    BIO:

    Chrissy K. McVay is the author of SOULS OF THE NORTH WIND, which is currently being considered by Cine LA as a feature film. Her story "Soul-Saver Horse" was published in ANGEL HORSES: Divine Messengers of Hope. She lives with her family in the mountains of Western North Carolina with her family and two golden retrievers, Sasha and Angel Michelle.  Angel Michelle is currently doing very well and taking life one blissful day at a time.

     

    SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT:

     What happy memories are you making with your pets today?
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    Rabbit Midwife

    Tuesday, February 5, 2008, 12:59 PM [General]
    Posted By: AngelAnimals

    RABBIT MIDWIFE

    By Connie Whiteside

     

    When I was a child, my grandfather raised white rabbits for a hobby. After my grandfather passed away, the family left Gonzales, Texas and returned to our homes around the nation. My mom, dad, brother, and I lived in Michigan. My cousin and her parents lived in Shreveport, Louisiana. Each of us children was allowed to take a baby rabbit home with us.

     

    By the time we got back to Michigan, my brother's rabbit had died. Mine lived on and grew to be huge. My mom let the rabbit loose in the house during the day. She followed mom around like a dog would.

     

    The rabbit's cage was in the basement, but she soon learned how to unlock it. She would come upstairs to visit whenever she was in the mood. We also had a pregnant cat at the time who was half the size of the rabbit.

     

    One day, Mom heard a funny noise and went to investigate. Near the top of the basement stairs, she found the cat and rabbit. The cat held the rabbit by the scruff of the neck and was trying to take her downstairs!

     

    Mom picked up the cat and rabbit and carried them to the big box we had set up for the expectant mother cat and her brood. She placed the two furry friends in the box. The rabbit stayed cuddled up to the expectant mom until the first kitten was born.

     

    That cat wanted her furry friend with her for comfort in her time of need. Who says animals can't think?

     

    BIO:

    Connie Whiteside currently lives in Georgia but has lived all over the country. She has been an animal scavenger all of her life. As a child, through her teens and into adulthood, she has always brought home lost and unwanted critters, including a Capuchin monkey. Connie now has four dogs and five cats, all rescued. Friends bring her found angels all of the time. She usually takes them in, intending to find homes for them. The home she finds turns out to be hers. Connie also is the volunteer coordinator for the Meals on Wheels program in her county and fundraiser for a local senior center. To her, these seniors are more critters, but they have only have two legs.

     

    SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT:

     What unusual animal combinations have you seen forming friendships?
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