Saturday, November 29, 2008

Ahnung - my north star

On September 15, 2006 we lost our beloved Shen to cancer of the spleen. On July 2nd, 2007 we lost Shadow (view video) to intestinal cancer. Since that time I have attempted to foster dogs through Pet Haven. Both times we “failed” (meaning we adopted the dog) – we now have Missy and Mister, two gorgeous black dogs, as a part of our family. My home has fondly come to be known by fellow Pet Haven volunteers as the “black dog, black hole.”

A couple weeks ago I brought home Ahnung from Red Lake Rosie’s Rescue. She was to be my foster dog --- I am determined to successfully foster a dog: yes, to love with all my heart, then let go and make room for another homeless dog. Ahnung was diagnosed with heartworm and it no longer became possible for her to come stay with me as Mister (our 16 month old pup) would be way too active for Ahnung who needs to remain extremely calm and quiet as she goes through heartworm treatment. Since Ahnung arrived in the Twin Cities on November 18th, she has been staying at Bloomington Veterinary Hospital – being monitored, pampered and cared for. Since then, I have gone to visit Ahnung every day (with the exception of Sundays and Thanksgiving) – I pick her up and we go on outings to the coffee shop or the studio. For the first week, I had to lift her into my Honda Element – having come from up north and not being familiar with life in the cities and driving around in cars, she wasn’t too sure about getting in and out of cars. Yesterday, we had a breakthrough…. she hopped right into the back and laid down on a bed I have for her behind the passenger seat. Today, we stopped by the studio as walls were being built – the hammering of nails into wood, and power tools slicing through lumber did not even phase this gentle, calm soul. My soul has been touched in a deep way by Ahnung – she is my north star, my bright light.

The day will arrive when she will be given a clean bill of health. The day will also arrive when I will need to let her go. Every day when I pick her up at the clinic my heart feels joyful. I love to watch her come out from the back area of the clinic with her tail wagging. I love the white tip on her black tail --- like her tail was dipped in a can of white paint. Yes she saunters at a leisurely pace but her tail wags, and this morning, she hopped right into my car without hesitation, just a spring in her step and a sense of familiarity, a sense of comfort.

I notice how she loves to lay in the grass when I bring her back to the clinic and get brushed, how she loves to lay in the sunshine no matter where we are, how she lets me know she wants a little love by placing her head between the driver and passenger seats in my car … and how she loves to rest her head on my foot when we hang out at coffee shops for hours while I get some work done. Just as I feel joy in my heart, every day when I pick her up, I feel a heaviness in my heart when I take the 90th street exit off of highway 35W heading south, turn left onto 90th, another left onto Lyndale Avenue, then a quick turn into the parking lot of the clinic. These past two days, I have noticed how Ahnung also notices. She used to sleep through the car ride but these past couple days she’s gotten up from her bed, and placed her head next to my hand. Maybe she senses the sadness in my heart. Maybe she knows our outing is over. Maybe she's trying to reassure me. Whatever it is, I know that I am grateful to know that the staff at the clinic loves her and cares for her. As I leave her and she is brought back to her kennel, I tell myself that Ahnung (which means “star” in Ojibway) will always be my star; she will always be my light.

I hold my Ahnung, my star, in my heart till our next outing. When the time comes for me to let her go, I trust she will shine so brightly that even the darkest night won’t keep me from the joy and the memories I am grateful to feel and experience with her right now. To love, yes... to love with all my heart ... knowing I will have to let her go -- it scares me while at the same time fills my soul up. Is this what it feels like to live like there's no tomorrow and to love with reckless abandon?

Sweet dreams Ahnung... i love you.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


There is so much to be thankful for....

Today, i choose to share images of three very special pups who occupy a large piece of my heart: Ahnung, Missy and Mister....

Happy Thanksgiving! May you be filled with slobbery kisses today :)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Ahnung -- "star" of Red Lake

Ahnung when I first met her in mid-October; she was nursing her pups.

Early this week I drove up north to Red Lake Rosie's Rescue. This was my second trip to Red Lake. On my first trip back in mid-October I met Ahnung. She had been dumped along with her litter of 8. Karen Good (founder of Red Lake Rosie's Rescue) had temporarily named her Mama. Recognizing that there was a special bond that was created almost instantaneously, she asked me to give her a name. I was honored. I pondered on what to name this gentle spirit. After considerable thought I decided on Ahnung, which means "star" in Ojibway. I wanted a name that would honor her roots and would represent the bright light in the skies of the work that Karen does on behalf of abandoned, abused and neglected animals of the Red Lake reservation. I promised Karen I would return for Ahnung. I drove back early this week. You can read more about our trip on the Red Lake Rosie's blog.

Ahnung the morning we are getting ready to head back to the cities. She had been spending her time in the igloo -- part of the big dog 'clan'. "Grandpa" is one of many shepherds who would hang out with her..

At this moment, I am compelled to write about Ahnung. There are many, many dogs that need our help, that need our compassion, that need for us to be a voice on their behalf. Many have touched my heart and soul -- Ahnung is one of them. We learned a couple weeks ago that she has heartworm. She is being treated for her heartworm and is being monitored at Bloomington Vet (Pet Haven's partner vet). For the next month she needs to be very calm and have minimal activity -- not really a challenge for this mellow, sauntering gal!! :) Since we arrived back in the cities on Tuesday night, I have visited Ahnung at the vet every day. The staff at Bloomington Vet have fallen in love with her -- it's hard not to! The first two days we hung out in a room where she would rest her head on my foot. Then we'd got outside for some fresh air and sunshine and she would saunter at her slow, definitive Ahnung pace -- no rushing this girl! :)

Ahnung resting under my writing desk at the Loft.

And today... well, today is a special day ... the vet gave me the okay to take Ahnung out for a little outing. I lifted her into my Honda Element (yes, all 65+ pounds of this solid girl!) and laid her on a blankie behind the passenger seat. She rested and kept her eye on me the whole way to our special destination... we are now lounging at the Coffee Gallery at The Loft. There is deep spiritual connection I feel with Ahnung. She reminds me of both Shen and Missy. Something about her makes me feel safe, makes me feel grounded.

Ahnung - outing at The Loft .

Ahnung represents more to me than I think I am yet aware of... for now, I hold her close to my heart and promise to care for her, and she for me, as we walk side by side for the next six weeks as she goes through her heartworm treatment. Spending time with her, getting her accustomed to life in the cities... my time with her, is as much about her healing as it is about my own healing.

Thank you Ahnung... thank you Karen for all you do for the animals of Red Lake.

To view photos from my trip up north, visit my flickr site.

Friday, November 14, 2008

In memory of Sophia

When I went to visit Karen about a month ago, I had the good fortune of meeting Benay who came to care for the shelter so that Karen could have her much needed foot surgery that she had been putting off (to be honest, I think Karen could still run laps around most of us prior to when she had surgery, and probably even after! --- nothing slows this incredible woman down!!). Benay, is another incredible spirit with just as much passion and compassion. You can read more about Benay on the Red Lake Rosie's blog:.

I share a story with you that was sent to me yesterday... one that touched my soul in a very deep way and reminds me of how important it is for us to continue the work we are doing on behalf of abandoned, abused and neglected animals; a story that reminds me of the painful reality and the shadow side of animal rescue - a side that often remains in the dark, but one i feel i need to cast light on, for only when the truth is told, can the truth be changed. This story reminds me also of the incredible souls and spirits, like Karen, like Benay, like yourselves, who in your own way give to these animals and advocate on their behalf...

"A very sad story which Benay has been heartbroken over, little
Sophia. Sophia- see pic came here from the Redby dumpster. She was
starving, mangey, and had this oozing heavy mucus from nose. We
contacted the vet and he said to put her on antibiotics, which we
did. She was here for 8 days and Benay fell in love with her. She
made great improvement, Benay moved her in the cathouse, bathed her
and pampered her. Sophia was so happy, she acted like she was in 7th
heaven. Following Benay all over the cathouse, and wagging her little

Benay took her to the vet a week later for an examination to see if
there was more wrong with her, and------we were horrified to learn
someone had put a gun in her little mouth and blew a hole in her
palate- then dumped her in the garbage and left to die!! She had been
asperating water into her nasal area when she drank water.

The vet said there was no hope for her, so she went across the
Rainbow Bridge, one of the saddest days here at Red Lake Rosie's

She loved her so, and Benay has been so sad since that happened last
Thursday, a week ago today. We shall not forget Sophia, and are
amazed that through her suffering, she was so happy that someone
LOVED her!!! I cannot comprehend this!! See this angel's picture- it
is heartreaking!! There are other Sophias out there, but none as

Peace- Karen

My heart feels raw as I hold Sophia and Benay in my heart. In memory of Sophia and in honor of Benay and Karen (who tirelessly works on behalf of the Red Lake dogs), I am even more committed to keep on working on the behalf of these innocent beings. I am returning to Red Lake on Monday to drop off donations and transport some dogs back to the cities. Pet Haven will most likely be taking 4 puppies and 3 adult dogs into our foster program. One of the 3 dogs will be Ahnung (which means "star" in Ojibway), a dog who touched my heart on my last trip up. We have since learned she has heartworm and will need to go through treatment for 2 months. I am proud to be a part of a rescue organization who will take in the not so easy dogs, and the ones who require the extra care.

We need your help and support... we need donations (both supplies and financial support). We also need more fosters. You can email me at if you would like to get involved or have any questions.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Writing the book of my life

A Voice Through the Door
- Rumi

Sometimes you hear a voice through
the door calling you, as fish out of

water hear the waves, or a hunting
falcon hears the drum's come back.

This turning toward what you deeply
love saves you. Children fill their

shirt with rocks and carry them
around. We're not children anymore.

Read the book of your life which has
been given you. A voice comes to

your soul saying, Lift your foot;
cross over; move into the emptiness

of question and answer and question.

In July of this year I spent a week up north in Ely -- much needed quiet time for reflection. It was in presence of the wolves up north where I realized I had been holding back in writing the book of my life. I reflect on it on my fifth day up north in my writing.

Since that time I have intentionally been listening to the voices through the door as they guide me to write the book of my life. I am getting ready to embark on a new adventure. With both fear and hope as my friends, I lift my foot, and cross over into a new chapter in my life.

What is the book of your life?
And are you slowing down enough to listen to the voices calling through the door?

What I can tell you is that these voices began as whispers for me, and as I created space for them to sing, it was as if I could feel the birth of a forest in my heart -- and out of the forest emerged the most beautiful music of the voices and cries of the wolves. I feel the vibration of life in the rawness of the deep forest and in the spirit of the wolves. I feel the vibration of life in my memory of Shen and in the eyes of Missy. And the silent, pulsing vibration is what moves me inward, then outward into this world, where I carry in my heart an image of a gentle, compassionate, loving world for all living beings.

The wolves gave me a gift -- the Book of my Life with only the intro written. Through their spirit, they moved me to begin filling the blank pages and writing. I share with you photos of these magical beings in a video I put together.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Returning to center ....

I believe there is a spirit of fire, a spirit of passion that resides within each and every one of us. I believe in a kind, gentle and compassionate world -- where the innocent, resilient, loving and forgiving nature of animals can help us find meaning in our own lives. I believe we all want to belong. I believe we all want to know our lives have meaning and purpose, and that our footprint will be forever etched in the hearts of some living being, some purpose, some dream.

I also believe it's easy for us to get off track ... to hop onto a train that's traveling at lightning speeds -- where it's going, we don't know. It doesn't matter that the train isn't heading somewhere. What will derail us is that we believe we're heading somewhere, attached to a certain outcome, attached to a particular path. It's okay to be lost -- in fact, to be lost and to be okay with being lost and savoring the journey of possibilities, now that's freedom.

How is it possible for me to feel so clear in purpose, yet so lost? How is it possible for me to feel like I am bursting with love, yet feel so empty? How it possible for me to feel my heart tremble, yet feel my soul be still?

In Missy's eye i feel Shen's spirit. I return to center through Shen, through Missy. I return to a place inside of me where questions reside -- the answers aren't out there; the answers aren't in some book or person. The answers aren't even inside, only questions.

What's Not Here
- Rumi

I start out on this road, call it
love or emptiness. I only know what's

not here: resentment seeds, back-
scratching greed, worrying about out-
come, fear of people. When a bird gets
free, it doesn't go back to remnants

left on the bottom of the cage! Close
by, I'm rain. Far off, a cloud of fire.

I seem restless, but I am deeply at ease.
Branches tremble; the roots are still.

I am a universe in a handful of dirt,
whole when totally demolished. Talk

about choices does not apply to me.
While intelligence considers options,

I am somewhere lost in the wind.>