A Wolf

I have been feeling a little bit of relief since finding out that Juno probably, more than likely, was suffering from Lyme disease for a few years before her death. This means that although the decision to put her to sleep was probably not the best outcome at the end of the day, at least I now know the reason for her aggression and that it was not because she was a ‘bad dog’ or was totally uncontrollable/untrainable. She was amazing with her family; protected us to the very end and only saw red with other dogs, which we tried to keep her away from as much as possible. Her behaviour was totally baffling but knowing she probably had Lyme disease makes it perhaps a little more easier to understand. I still feel much sadness, guilt and dismay that neither I nor the vets had picked up on this very simple diagnosis and was able to treat her. I am starting to feel a little better, however; so much so, that the depression I had been feeling has lifted and the crying I had been doing on a daily basis has stopped. I feel more ‘settled’ in my own skin and the pain is subsiding.

A few nights ago, I had the strangest dream; it was so real, it actually felt as if what occurred actually happened. I don’t often have dreams like this but when I do, I feel very affected by them for a long time afterwards and I know that they have a huge significance in my life. I was ‘awoken’ by a feeling that something was coming towards me. I heard a voice say ‘a dog’ and got the impression that there were a few people/beings present in the room watching me. I turned and realised that a huge wolf had just lay down by my right side. He was silver and black and was nearly as long as me and his presence was very scary. His head was right next to mine and his massive back arched above me. I had the urge to turn back over and get away from him, whereupon he switched over to my left side and lay down there. I half-woke up shortly after that in a sweat, feeling scared because of the vividness of it all, thinking it was a nightmare. Quite soon, when I had settled down a bit, I went back to sleep.

As I woke up again for the morning, I immediately recalled the dream and understood that it was Juno coming back to lie down in the place she always liked to be in; stretched out right next to me. She was now a wolf, a big (in fact huge) wolf. I also understood that this was the reincarnation she had been looking forward to during her life with us. I then had an image of her running wild in a deep forest with a pack of wolves and it made me feel very proud in bittersweet way. This is what she had wanted, I knew without doubt. I had the feeling that she had now served her ‘purpose’ with me and my family and as soon as I had found out the cause of her aggression, Lyme, six months after her death, she left. I often would hear the words ‘set me free’ when I thought she was nearby and now I know that this was what she wanted more than anything.

Since then, I have had images of her leading the pack as the Alpha Male. I know that she is a beautiful, strong, intelligent, fierce and loyal leader and will have great success with her pack, which I get the impression is far away from human habitation. I feel a such a release; happier than I have been in the last six months and so very glad that at last, she is free.

When I was pregnant with my first daughter almost exactly 17 years ago, the night before I gave birth, I had the impression that a wolf was sitting at the bottom of my bed, there to look over me whilst my daughter was being born. I had never felt anything so real since my childhood visions of wolves pacing up and down outside my bedroom door (yes it seems to be a recurring theme and boy, did they seem real back then). When my second daughter was born, nearly 14 years ago, on a snowy December night, I heard a fox screech continuously outside the window. I now wonder if these are all one and the same creature; a reincarnation of many wolves and foxes all linking to my real dog companion (and protector) Juno. I have the feeling that they are.

I will still always be in contact with Juno; with the wolf that now roams that deep forest somewhere far away. The connection can never be broken and maybe, just maybe one day in the future my beloved will send me another dog or even a real wolf to look over me again.

I look forward to that day.

Starting to heal?

It has been five and a half months since our beloved Juno was put to sleep. Although I write a personal journal every day to keep track of things, I have not been able to write about it here until my last post because quite frankly, I felt such huge guilt that I had euthanized our healthy, wonderful family dog. I had visions of people damning me online for the decision I had taken so, I decided to keep quiet about it and try to get through the mourning process as best I could. There was not really anything I could discuss with close friends either; the subject seemed to be something rather taboo. They saw on the face of it that I was coping, so that was that. I had heard of friends’ age-old dearhearts being put to sleep when the ‘time was right’ in order to alleviate physical pain and suffering and I helped them mourn the wonderful lives their animals had lived but I had never come across anyone who had alleviated ‘mental’ pain in an animal that was otherwise young and healthy and was suffering anguish for the decision they had made. My dog’s aggression seemed somehow to immediately make the discussion of all those fond memories of her far less appealing. I felt very alone.

I had no idea that there are so very many of us who have suffered in this way through having to make the decision to euthanise our beloveds because of their aggression. I am slowly reading through all of the 900 posts on this page, crying and re-living that terrible time and it is making me feel a little better. I had no idea that anybody, let alone hundreds, if not thousands of people had had such a similar experience with their dog as me. It has been a comfort and I think it has also helped me face the fact that she has absolutely gone and there is nothing I can do to bring her back (at least in body). It hasn’t however, made the facts surrounding her death any easier for me to digest but I stand behind my decision; I believe we were 100% correct to have gone through with it according to the information we had about her (and the experience we had had with her) at the time.

I have been avoiding facing all of this ‘stuff’ for five and a half months now by keeping myself busy, very busy; walking everyday, immersing myself mainly in planting a hedge to make the garden more enclosed, feeding the birds and going out to watch foxes, badgers and deer most evenings in the woods around us. I also enrolled in a wildlife tracking course, which I will be taking in October. I was also very close to contacting the local vets to offer my services taking in injured wildlife.

Somehow underneath, I knew I was just trying to fill in the hole left by Juno and I thought that immersing myself in the activity of looking after ‘things’ and interacting with wild animals would be a good idea. I went on a huge campaign to get the neighbour’s five cats out of the garden, no longer worried that they would be seen off by the resident dog and so at liberty to kill everything that moved, including nearly all of the lizards living on my patio. I also went on a silent and sometimes not so silent campaign of ‘severe dislike’ for my other neighbour who shot two fox cubs in the fields in front of our house because he thought they were a nuisance (after I had fed the mother in the garden every night whilst she raised her babies) and I then decided that I had to ‘save the planet’ by giving up flying for good and becoming a vegan. All of this was in a strange way, good, I suppose (although I fear I am fast getting the reputation of being the mad lizard-loving vegan who lives at the end of the valley); I managed to get through most days without feeling the utter desperate sadness that I had felt immediately after Juno’s death because I had other matters to attend to.

I knew however, despite of (and maybe because of) all this activity, I was suffering from continued depression.

I decided about a month ago to study animal communication after stumbling over this video and being absolutely blown away by it BUT I knew I would only be able to go ahead with it if I put the fact that I could have telepathically communicated with Juno about her problems before her death to the back of my mind. If only, if only I had come across this video a year ago. If only I had known how to sit down and ask her directly what the problem was and if only I had known how to hear her reply I may have been able to help her and she would have still been here today; healthy, happy, sitting at my feet, looking forward to her walk, at ease with all other dogs, thunder, fireworks, able to chase and bring back a ball, and …. and …. and …..

I can’t explain how sad writing that previous sentence makes me feel.

I think I have been keying into a subtle change in the air of our family too. My daughters up until now, have been unable to talk about Juno’s death to me or my husband. We were all so very stunned but recently, my youngest has said she wants another dog and my oldest sent me a photo of some border collie pups she’d just seen for sale. Suddenly we are talking about dogs again.

After reading the experiences of so many other people who have gone through the same dreadful trauma as us, I felt brave enough to start writing this blog; partly as a celebration of Juno’s life, as therapy for me and also as a record of my exploration into animal communication, especially with those beloveds who have already passed on. I am normally very shy, very private and very anxious about overexposure on the net but with Juno’s help, I think I may be able to do this (for a while, at least). I am excited that I will be able to talk to her again. I get the feeling that she would like to talk to me, I am comforted knowing that there may have been, after all, some rhyme and reason to this dreadful experience and there maybe a light at the end of this tunnel of grief for both of us.

And more than anything I have started to feel a sense of her wisdom and her strength, after all her Spirit is but a part of the Spirit of Oneness we all share and it makes me, very slowly, very tentatively, feel proud to have known and continue to know my beloved dog, despite everything that went so desperately wrong in her life here with us.

Vixen

I am not sure that I can even write this post. Where do I begin? Not because I am being told from every quarter that I am ‘wrong’ but actually because it has been very hard for me to re-live what happened last night until now; that slick little body being dragged from the middle of a field and thrown into the river.

I must make this clear right from the start that I realise I probably shouldn’t have been encouraging foxes to come into the garden at all. I bought a trail cam and I have been filming them. One vixen had been coming every single night and has been eating everything I offered her; peanuts, raisins, dog food, an egg, a bone, rice and pasta. Mostly she would carry the food off in a very diligent way, so I had a suspicion she was feeding cubs. Some people would stop me right there and say I should not be feeding foxes (and cats and pine martens) but I wanted to help her to feed her babies with a view to perhaps some time in the future, seeing them in the garden too.

I was entering dangerous territory. There are chickens in the village – lots of chickens – so I decided that I should not be introducing the vixen to the taste of chicken’s eggs. So I no longer put them out for her but I continued to put other things out and she continued to come.

Two nights ago, at around 10p.m. we heard a gun shot and looked out of the window to see my neighbour crouching in the field and then making his way back towards the river. I had a long conversation with my husband about it, deciding that no, he could not possibly be out shooting foxes, he’s a sensitive guy, loves animals, I used to keep bees with him and he was even worried about what effect mobile phone and EMF pollution was having on the hives. Perhaps he needed to go and test out his gun every once in a while, not that we have ever heard him shooting out of the hunting season before in all the time we have lived here.

I tried to put it to the back of my mind, worried more that the fox cubs would be suffering in the heat wave we are currently having. I carried on as normal but was unable to put the trail cam out that evening to check that the vixen was still around. I told myself I would definitely put it out the next evening, which was last night. After a glorious walk, watching cows and sheep and moths, picking wild strawberries and garlic, I came home to put a little patty of raw meat out onto the lawn and set the camera up. It was 9.45pm. Another gun shot. This time I rushed to the field and caught my neighbour stooping over something and then coming quickly back towards the river, as he had done the night before.

“What is it?” I shouted over. “What have you got? Oh no, no!”

A baby fox; small, matted, being dragged by her tail across the stubble. I was in tears. I could do nothing but repeat the same words over and over again, “She’s just a baby, no, no, she’s just a baby.” My neighbour could say nothing back but they are a nuisance.

I turned and ran. I could do nothing else at that moment but turn away from the mangled body and escape. I had no more words.

Those cubs I had been feeding through their mother for the last six weeks, perhaps just coming out of the den into the wide world for the first time, sniffing the cool evening air, pouncing on beetles in the stubble, watching moths flit across their path, not knowing that this man was lying behind a woodpile with a barrel of a gun trained onto their flanks, not knowing what had hit them when the gun went off.

Back at home and I was getting a reality check from my husband.

“Can you see things from his point of view? He has lived here all his life, he has shot foxes every year of his life since he was young; we are newcomers here, city folk, foreigners. Do you think that he will stop for one moment and consider your protest? What were you thinking encouraging foxes into the village anyway? There are chickens here and your pet rabbits are running free in the garden. He has been sitting and watching that fox every night, coming along the same path, skirting around the houses, creeping through the shadows, what else do you think was going through his mind other than it is a nuisance? There is so much violence going on in the world and you get upset about a dead fox?”

Yes, I am wrong to be upset, I was wrong to encourage foxes into the garden, I should be worrying about what is happening in Syria instead. I know that now but all I could think about was her little collapsed body being thrown into the river by the tail. All I can think about is that if we don’t know how to treat a fox in our own neighbourhood, how on earth can we ever deal with a war in a far-flung country? If we were hunter-gatherers and living in a place with creatures we respected and honoured, foxes would never be seen as pests; they would be revered as tricksters – cunning and wily, here to create a little havoc in our lives, to teach us to be more ingenious, more resilient. There would be no such thing as random shooting and throwing a body into a river. Yes I am wrong to be upset but I cannot stop worrying about this disrespect shown towards another animal so close to my home, one that I was selfishly hoping to catch a glimpse of in innocent play one summer evening soon. And I know that this kind of disrespect, which starts off so quietly at home and is ignored, must as a matter of course, find its way eventually into the treatment of people in world wars and is also ignored.

And my husband thinks I should go and talk to my neighbour but I don’t think it will make a jot of difference. To start with I am a foreigner in this place and secondly I am a woman. When a man feels that he needs to control his environment by shooting wild things, there is no woman in the world who is going to make him see sense. I walk the fields regularly and see men cutting down the meadow grass, spraying weeds with pesticides, felling trees and taming rivers into a course of their making, I see them crating veal calves, chaining dogs and killing foxes. Yes, I know it allows me to live in a beautiful rural place like this and I have learnt to know my place in it, so there’s no point trying to raise any complaint. I am obviously having my cake and eating it. What have I got to complain about? And after all, who am I anyway? Just a pale, domesticated, insipid shadow of that vixen out there somewhere in the wood, standing sniffing the air, just like every vixen before her has done for the past fifty years, waiting for her cubs to return; canny, cunning, wise trickster that she is; how pathetic I am in comparison. Suffering in silence, unable to march out into the world and rock the boat, unable to speak out for animals and people who are less privileged than me. Caught and tamed, unable to unleash a fighting spirit that no man can ultimately control.

Underneath it all however, although the trail cam has been packed away and the dog food promised to someone else, I hope there is a small whisper of Vixen in me that is capable of showing her true spirit to the world, especially as, at around 9.45pm tonight, I plan to be standing in the middle of that field, facing the woodpile.