Cider was the cover girl on our Tellington Touch dog video, and that’s where this photo came from.
Kelly and I got Cider as a young Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy shortly after we started our llama ranch outside of Ashland, Oregon. She grew up going for long walks all over the mountains with us. She wasn’t overly interested in the llamas and lived mostly in the house. There she could keep an eye on us and boss around Teddy Bear, our Australian Shepherd who joined us as a puppy when Cider was three.
By the time we moved to Olympia, Washington, she was thirteen. She had some health problems, but she managed to keep on going. Kelly’s mother was sending absent Reiki healing to her, and it seemed to help quite a lot. Cider had always been very loving and joyous, and she became even more loving as her body deteriorated. It was a sad time when I realized that she wasn’t going to climb the stairs to my office any more. She’d stretch out in the middle of the living room, watching everything.
Finally, one evening, we sat down for a talk. As Kelly and I reminisced and looked through photos, we were both celebrating and mourning the passage of time in our lives as well as in Cider’s. Then we turned our attention to Cider, to see what we could receive telepathically from her. Our abilities to communicate telepathically with animals — and our faith in the process — had greatly increased when we produced a video (now DVD) program with Penelope Smith, Telepathic Communication with Animals. It isn’t that the animals speak English, but that they give us ideas which we automatically translate into our own ways of perceiving. It can be deeply satisfying.
But this was a biggie: we were going to ask Cider if she was ready to die.
We sat quietly, or rather Kelly sat quietly while I cried. After a while, we shared our impressions. Kelly said, “Cider said that she is uncomfortable a lot of the time, and her love for us is what keeps her going. It’s doubly hard because she knows how much trouble she causes us when she has accidents or throws up. She would like to do things like she used to, but her body just won’t do it any more. Her frequent licking is a way to take her mind off the feeling of malaise she often has. She’s kind of resigned to how things are.”
As Kelly said this, Cider picked up her head and looked at us.
The only phrase that I got through my tears was, “My life means very little to me now.” Except, she added, for her love for us. She would always love us. That always was the stuff of eternity. She seemed to be considering coming back to us as another dog in the future.
We asked her questions, and we were glad to discover that we were receiving the same or complementary answers. She told us both that she was ready to die, and that it didn’t matter to her if the vet helped or not. A few months earlier, Cider had told Penelope that she wanted to die on her own, but now she told Kelly she just wasn’t programmed to let go of life easily.
Teddy Bear was lying on the floor nearby. I asked him what he thought of all this. He told me that Cider hadn’t been much fun for quite a while. He worried whenever Kelly and I went away for the weekend, leaving the dogs home with a neighbor caring for them. He added that he had known for some time that Cider would be leaving.
A few days later, our veterinarian came. We put a blanket under Cider, and he gave her a shot as she lay in her favorite spot in the living room. I felt her spirit fill the room even before her body was still. “She’s so big,” I said through my tears. The vet looked at me quizzically.
That night, I dreamt that Teddy was asleep on the floor. Next to him sat Cider, alert and looking good. I felt very happy as I thought, “I’m really seeing her!” When I remembered the dream, it had that extremely real quality that dreams have now and then.
Life after Death
Kelly and I sat down a week later to see if we could communicate with Cider. We both had become much more open to life after death after reading books on the subject and having a few personal experiences. But all that was about people… could we connect with a dog?
Indeed we could. It was amazingly easy to be in touch with Cider, and she had lots to tell us. “I love being dead,” she told me. “If I had known it was this great, I would have gone months ago! Don’t drag it out with Teddy when his time comes.”
She showed Kelly mental pictures of herself doing pirouettes, leaps, and flying motions that dogs can’t really do. When he asked about her actual time of dying, she gave him the image of an apple snapping as it’s picked off a tree. This life is the fruit growing on the tree, and then SNAP! The apple separates from the tree, with its seed and potential for rebirth.
I asked Cider, “Do you mind when I cry over your absence?”
“Every time you’ve cried, I’ve been right there, licking your face. At first it was frustrating that you didn’t notice me, but now I understand that you can’t always do that.”
When I wrote our holiday newsletter a couple of months later, I asked Cider if she had anything to say.
“Yes,” she said. “People should be more like dogs. Then there would be peace on earth.”
I was skeptical, thinking of her many border skirmishes. “How’s that?”
“Sure, dogs do fight sometimes. But still I want people to be more like dogs, to live in the present, to feel the life in their bodies — not just in their heads. I want people to be happy!”
“What do you propose, Cider?”
She got up from where she had been sitting by my computer. I had been aware of her thoughts but hadn’t been noticing her spirit body. She made herself over twice the size she had been in life, so she could lick my face.
She looked intently at me, one of those deep searching looks that had become so common in her last year. “Just love,” she said.