Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Ahnung's gift to me .... Ishkode (means 'fire' in ojibway)

Ishkode (ISH ko day)
I headed up to Leech Lake last Thursday ... my first Leech Lake Legacy spay/neuter and wellness clinic without my Ahnung. There was a heaviness in my heart as I packed on Wednesday night as memories of my sweet girl came flooding in my heart. She has been the fire and the inspiration behind Leech Lake Legacy, a non-profit I co-founded to help the animals and pet owners of Leech Lake Reservation . But I could feel Ahnung telling me I needed to go. It had been over 6 weeks since she crossed over to the spirit world. She left me 2 weeks after our last clinic in August ... my gut tells me Ahnung orchestrated the timing of everything that has happened. She knew I needed to be surrounded by a community of friends and so she guided me to continue on with her Final Celebration of Life party on August 25 at the Animal Humane Society ... where we celebrated her life and where I held her, surrounded by friends, as she took her last breath and I felt the weight of her head fall into my arms. I promised her I would embrace the grief, as painful as it was, because I knew it was what she wanted me to do so that I could keep my heart open. And so the journey through grief has been a very difficult and painful one, but every step of the way I felt Ahnung with me and she has shown her presence to me in different ways.

So on this last trip up to Leech Lake I brought Legacy with me because I needed to feel her presence with me. I look at Legacy and he reminds me of the joy he brought to Ahnung and their playful relationship. We arrived at the Country Inn at Walker on Thursday around 4:00 pm. I checked in and unloaded my car and decided I needed to go for a walk along the same path Ahnung and I had walked by Leech Lake. It was a beautiful fall day. On the one hand I was excited about our next clinic and being up at Leech Lake Reservation and being around a loving community ... on the other hand, I ached for Ahnung and needed to just feel her with me. So Legacy and I went for a walk. "Just Be with all the emotions ... don't run." Ahnung has continued to guide me from the spirit world and to give me the strength to continue the work she began.
Leech Lake
We continued walking ... as the trees opened up and we could catch a full view of Leech Lake up above us I saw what appeared to be a large bird flying towards us. At first I couldn't tell what kind of bird it was. It flew closer and closer to us. In moments, the bald eagle swooped down and hovered right above us. There was a momentary pause, and in that instance all I could feel and sense was Ahnung. 'I'm here." And the eagle flew away. There was no beginning or end, or life or death in that moment. We were One. I said outloud, 'miigwech (thank you) Ahnung' ... and my heart was filled with her spirit and I knew I was exactly where I needed to be ... continuing the work at Leech Lake Reservation.

Legacy and I continued our walk and then headed to meet the others at the Leech Lake Tribal Police headquarters to set up and prepare for our 6th spay/neuter and wellness clinic at Leech Lake Reservation. On Friday, day 1 of the clinic, around noon time we had our first surrendered pup brought in. A Leech Lake resident arrived with two puppies. I happened to be out front at the intake desk when the pups were surrendered. My heart stopped momentarily when I saw the puppies .. one
Ishkode (then Athena) getting checked out by Dr. Heather
of them in particular reminded me of Ahnung. I also knew all surrendered animals at this clinic would be given a name beginning with the letter 'A' (Jenny Fitzer, the other co-founder of Leech Lake Legacy set up a system of naming surrendered animals each week with the same letter of the alphabet so that we can track them through the process as we transfer them to our partner shelters/rescues to be placed up for adoption). At the moment I felt Ahnung's spirit again. The pups were given wellness checks and their initial vaccinations by one of our volunteer vets, Dr. Heather. Both were covered with ticks. Was Ahnung trying to tell me something?

On Friday I would take the little pup out (she was named Athena) ... the resemblance of little Athena to Ahnung was remarkable: she had the same markings and even has a little white tip on her tail and a white splotch on her back. Over and over again throughout Friday and into Saturday I was being asked if I would be taking her home. I kept saying 'no'. My head said there is no way I could bring a puppy into my home. I wasn't ready to take on raising a puppy yet I didn't know if Ahnung was trying to send me signs. On Saturday, Karen Good (Ahnung's rescuer and a Red Lake elder from Red Lake Reservation) was at our clinic. She too asked if I would be taking baby Nung home (that soon became her name at the clinic).
Ishkode and Legacy
I said I just couldn't. She looked at me, and with the same wise elder look she gave me when I first met her in 2008 and also met Ahnung, she said calmly and purposefully, "Ahnung is giving you many signs. Marilou, I would seriously think about it. Sometimes it is no longer our choice." Later that night, I introduced Legacy to baby Nung. I trusted Ahnung would guide me .... Legacy can be temperamental with some dogs and I have to watch him with new dogs he meets. He and baby Nung hit it off within minutes.

That night in my hotel room I tossed and turned. Ahnung, please guide me ... please let me know what I need to do. And then the thought occurred to me that it was in October, 2008 when I first met Ahnung up at Red Lake Reservation. I didn't remember the exact day in October. I got out of bed and looked up the first photo I took of Ahnung in 2008 .... October 11, 2008. I felt chills run through my body. It was exactly 5 years ago. Ahnung was clearly leading me to the puppy. I could hear her telling me I needed to name the puppy 'fire' in ojibway.
Spending time with little Ish at the clinic

So Sunday morning I brought baby Nung home with me. Her name is now Ishkode (ISH ko day) which means 'fire' in ojibway. There are striking resemblances between Ishkode and Ahnung not just in appearance but in personality. I know Ishkode will have her own unique personality ... but she, like Ahnung, has those wise soulful eyes. And when I hold Ishkode, I feel Ahnung's presence even stronger. I didn't plan on bringing a puppy home, but apparently Ahnung must feel like Ishkode must walk alongside of me so that we can continue the work we are doing at Leech Lake Reservation. So sweet nung-nung, I am sorry I kept resisting the idea of bringing little Ish home .. I am sorry I needed you to send me more signs. I needed to be sure that this is what you wanted me to do. I hear you sweet girl and I will continue to keep listening. I had always wondered what Ahnung looked like as a pup .. well, looks like she has given me the answer.

There will be many more stories forth coming ... Ahnung's spirit continues to live on, both in Legacy, Ishkode, me ... and in an entire community of people. Miigwech Ahnung for continuing to guide us all from the spirit world.

If you would like to follow along in the continued journey of Ahnung's spirit and Ishkode (and Legacy), follow us on Ahnung's facebook page:

Ahnung - July, 2013
Ishkode exploring the backyard
Ishkode's first trip to Woody's Pet Food Deli

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