Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Legacy Link ... honoring the sacredness of the human/animal bond

Earlier in the year Leech Lake Legacy/LLL was invited to have a booth at the Animal Humane Society Walk for Animals (LLL is a non-profit I co-founded in May, 2011 where our mission is to empower residents of Indian reservations to enrich the lives of animals in their community by providing resources where needed) . We were very fortunate to have a booth next to Jeff Troldahl of the non-profit Link Support. I was so moved by the story behind how Link Support was started ... how Jeff took the grief and pain of losing his mother to breast cancer, and turning the heaviness in his heart into something positive; into making a difference; and into shining light where there was once darkness. Jeff lost his mother to breast cancer ... he wanted to do something; he wanted to fight back .... and as Jeff shares on his website, "
-->I wanted to help, to make a difference somehow – but nothing felt quite right. Not long after that, my father passed away. To escape, I spent many days and nights working on bicycles. One day I was working with a bike chain and a thought became quite clear. it’s not just me. We are all in this together, so we best hang on to each other – like the links in the chain I was holding." The first link Jeff created was the Pink Link to honor his mother and to raise money for breast cancer awareness. 'Wear a Pink Link to remind you of one you love, of one you lost. Give a Pink Link to remind someone you are close by, connected to them, and holding on."

Jeff and I met for coffee a few weeks after the Walk for Animals. We connected ... yes, kindred spirit. I shared more about Leech Lake Legacy, and about Ahnung ... about my journey, our shared journey ... about life, loss, hope, uncertainty, resilience ... about our shared journey with cancer and how it has impacted our lives ... about our wish to leave a Legacy of Love, and to do so, by Living our Legacy. Every day I have with Ahnung is a gift. We are now at 7 months since we learned her cancer has metastasized to her lungs. I am now past 2 years since my diagnosis with a rare heart disease, left ventricular non-compaction. We are both still going strong. We both have more work left to do .... 

At our coffee meeting, we discussed creating a new link to raise money for Leech Lake Legacy. Ahnung (rescued from Red Lake Reservation in the fall of 2008) is the inspiration behind Leech Lake Legacy. He asked me to write the copy for what the new link would be ... we talked about what the link would be called. I knew in my heart, Ahnung had to be a part of it. We tossed around The Ahnung Link, The Star Link (Ahnung's name means star in ojibway), and finally The Legacy Link. The Legacy Link is about finding your voice, living your passion and living your legacy. The Legacy Link is about the powerful and sacred bond shared between humans and their beloved animals. And with every Legacy Link sold, we support the work of Leech Lake Legacy where we are committed to helping animals, and pet owners of Indian Reservations. 

So today, we launch the new Legacy Link: "Marilou Chanrasmi and her dog Ahnung (means ‘star’ in Ojibwe) share a powerful, magical bond. Ahnung, a rescued dog from Red Lake Reservation, is a therapy dog who has touched hearts and healed wounded spirits in her work with at-risk youth and in hospice. Marilou and Ahnung share a unique and bonded journey. In 2011, Ahnung was diagnosed with mammary cancer; in 2011, Marilou was told she had a rare heart disease that would eventually lead to heart failure. How much time they had left was unknown. In the spring of 2012, Ahnung was diagnosed with a second rare and aggressive cancer; by November 2012, the cancer had spread to her lungs. Together, Ahnung and Marilou have dedicated their lives to leaving a Legacy of Love through their work with Leech Lake Legacy, a non-profit organization committed to enriching the lives of animals and residents of Indian reservations through community, conversation and an open, non-judgmental heart. And together, embracing each other and the unexpected gift of limited time, they are Living their Legacy."

Visit Link Support and you can purchase a Legacy Link for $5. 50% of the proceeds goes to Leech Lake Legacy and 50% goes to Link Support.

And on a personal note, I ask that you hold Ahnung close to your heart when you wear your Legacy Link. We had a 2nd Celebration of Life party for Ahnung on April 7, 2013 ( ... I never dreamed we would have a 2nd Celebration of Life party for her .... and yes, I admit, my hope is that we will be having a 3rd Celebration of Life party for her next April. With enough people sending positive healing energy to her, it just might be possible ... because yes, anything is possible especially when it comes to my amazing girl :)


  1. Dear Marilou,

    I chanced upon your blog when I was researching on LVNC. I have been diagnosed with the same rare condition just last month, and my whole world collapsed.

    I am thankful that I found you as your words of wisdom has given me new hope to live my life more meaningful in whatever time we still have in this world.

    I have to manage Uncertainty, like the way you did. With all the blessings,I am sure you will be able to celebrate Ahnung 3rd Celebration of Life next April.

    All the best and take care.


    1. Thank you Chris for your taking time to comment and share :) I am glad our words give you new hope ... and in your words and sharing, you inspired me to write my blog post this morning: ...

      ... may you find peace and comfort and joy in the doors that open up when faced with difficult words to hear ….

      Marilou & Ahnung

  2. Thank you Marilou for writing. As medical science improved over the past few years, the prognosis for LVNC is getting better (especially for asymptomatic patients)as reported in a few studies recently. I am going through now what you went through two years ago when the unthinkable happened but I tried to brighten myself up with hope. Hope that medical science will improve over the next few years and eradicate this Uncertainty from our lives.

    I like to continue communicating with you, learn from your experiences and share my thoughts and feeling too. However, I like to write to you in private instead of posting via a blog. Can I communicate with you via your email :

    ...may you and Ahnung have a great day ahead.


    1. Hi Chris,

      I would happy to communicate privately with you ... you can reach me at The Pet Haven email account is no longer active :)

      have a great night :)