Wednesday, November 19, 2008

In loving memory of my doggie cousin....

In loving memory of Dugan

August 12, 1998 - November 18, 2008

Andrew sat in one of his favorite spots, near where the many dogs, and cats, and other family pets spent their afternoons for naps or games. Though everywhere was beautiful, he was always happiest among the animals. Their simple acceptance of things always made him remember why the Creator had mad them in the first place. They didn't ask questions, didn't muddle the issues with complicated theories or scientific findings. They accepted. They understood. They ...

... a cold nose poked under his arm took him from his thoughts. "What is it, Girl, what's troubling you?"

Maggie plopped herself down in front of him, and laid her muzzle in his lap. Her brown eyes were full of sorrow. "It is not well with my cousin. Max said you'd know what to do."

With an understanding sigh, he ruffled the ears of the beautiful Golden, who normally carried herself with raised head, doggie smile, and her magnificent plumy tail waving. Max had sat a few feet away, with a little grey cat beside him. That would be Pepper, another of the wise ones.

"He hasn't come yet, but he will, won't he", Maggie asked, knowing already what the answer would be. "Can we go and be with him?"

"There are rules, and you know better. But if you promise not to interfere with what must happen, yes, I will take you to be with him. I can't take all of you ..."

Max spoke then, and said "Take Pepper, and Mittens, I'll stay here and gather the others."

As if on cue, a fluffy calico cat came racing up to them, worry written across her face. "Am I too late? What's happening? Can we go? can *I* go?" Her words all ran together as she scrambled for composure, Andrew's gentle hand petting her. He rose, with Mittens in one arm, and Pepper in the other, Maggie pressed close to his side, and with no more than a whisper, they were gone. Max sat, thoughtful, and scrubbed a paw. When in doubt, wash. There was little else he could do at the moment.

* * * * * *

It had been a long week. The cough was annoying enough, but now his feet weren't cooperating. Dugan had some water, then tried to make his way to the door, so he could greet Mom and Dad when they came home. They would be out late tonight, which always worried him. So many things outside go "bump" in the night. He always felt better when they were home safe, with him, Gabbie and Shermin. He slipped a few times, and slid, and finally heaved a sigh, and gave up. Not a very dignified pose, but it would have to do.

"What's wrong with him? can he hear us?" Maggie was a wreck. She so wanted to go to Dugan, comfort him.

"He can't hear us unless we want him to. And now is not the time to upset him. We will wait quietly with him. He's all right for now, and they will be home soon." Andrew tried to comfort her, while Pepper and Mittens settled themselves on the stairs. Maggie quietly stretched out beside Dugan, to keep him warm.

As she rounded the corner from the stairway, Heather froze. She called to Karl, afraid of what she was seeing. Together they worked with the collie, trying to help him stand, trying to move him. Finally all fell into broken sleep on the living room rug, unaware of the presence of the others, who purred comfort and maintained their vigil throughout the night. Andrew's heart ached, he knew what morning would bring.

* * * * *

Dugan didn't hurt, particularly, and he had to admit though he didn't know these people, he was comfortable with them. Mom and Dad sure were miserable though, and he didn't know how to comfort them. He was poked and prodded, people talked, and then they went away. When they came back, there was just a pin prick, and he felt so relaxed, as he drifted off to sleep ....

"Dugan, wake up, it's time to go."
"huh?" That was odd, he went to sleep on a table, but now he was in an especially lush patch of sunlit grass. He scrambled to his feet, looked around, ran in circles a bit, then plopped himself down. A butterfly danced before his nose, and then flew circles around his head. THAT startled him, as he had never been able to see all around his head before! He chased the butterfly a bit, then gave in and rolled in the grass, feet in the air, in happy doggie abandon. Then it occurred to him he was being watched. There was a golden retreiver, and two cats watching him. And a little bit apart sat a man, sort of ... dressed in some white thing that looked more like a nightgown than anything else.
"Who are YOU, and what is this place? and where's Mom and Dad?"
" I'm Maggie. These two are Mittens, and Pepper. They used to live with your Mama when she was a little girl. They're friends of mine."
"okay, but where ARE we, and WhY?"
Maggie turned to Pepper and said "You explain. You're better at it."
The little grey cat came close, extended her nose to sniff with Dugan. "Your march of days upon the earth has come to an end, and we are here to greet you, and take you to a special place."

Dugan sat there, trying to digest all this. "I'm not going ANYwhere without my family."

"We know how you feel, we felt the same way at first ... Come and meet Andrew. He's better at this than we are ..."
Dugan did as he was told, and sat down in front of the strange man. Strange, because he'd never seen anyone like him before, but NOT strange, in that he felt perfectly at ease with this person. Remembering his manners, he solemnly placed a paw on Andrew's knee.

"Hello there young man, it's a pleasure to meet you!" Andrew equally solemnly shook the proffered paw, then reached and scratched the handsome collie's ears. "A bit confused, are you?"

"Yesser. I was with Mom and Dad, and then I fell asleep, and now I'm here with you, and I don't know why."

"Come, I'll explain as we go ..." and with that, Andrew picked up the two cats, Maggie sandwiched Dugan between herself and Andrew, and they were gone from sight ....

* * * * * *

The leaves rustled in the trees, the birds raised their voices in song. The Bridge shimmered in the mist as the travelers appeared ...

"They're here! They're here!" Dogs, cats, ponies, birds of all kinds and colors ... hamsters clung to the collars of the dogs whose shoulders they rode, even fishes, caried carefully in gourds of water ... all were anxiously waiting at the end of the rainbow. For that's what the Bridge looked like, a huge rainbow.

As the mists parted, Maggie and the two cats jumped down from the Bridge to join the others. "So you see, Dugan, here is where you will wait, as we wait, for when our humans come to join us, and then we all go through the great Gate together for all time. This is the Creator's promise. That none would fall by the wayside. There are those here who did not know the loving touch of man, only hunger, and cold, and hurt. They wait too, because others come who will take them. All our needs are met here. We want for nothing. There is no pain, no sadness, and time passes far differently than it did on Earth."

"Now it's your turn to come down from the Bridge, and join us. Accept all that the Creator promised."

"But Mom. Dad. Gabby and Shermin. I don't WANT to leave them." Dugan refused to budge.

"You don't have to. They'll always be with you, and you can always be with them. We'll teach you. You speak to them in their hearts. They'll know of your presence and be comforted."

They all looked so happy. Dugan looked over his shoulder at the mists behinds him. It was a lot to digest in one lump. He wished he had more time to think about it. But they seemed so sure. And things were obviously different, he could see, he could run and jump ...

Pepper spoke softly "Dugan, come down from there. It's time. It will be okay. I loved your mama too. I will teach you how to go to her."

"I'm scared." Dugan still refused to budge.

"Andrew, may I come up on the Bridge and jump with him? I know it will make him feel better." Andrew nodded assent.

The dainty grey cat lept to the Bridge, and crowded close to the Collie. "It's okay Dugan, it really is. I will jump with you..."

Dugan took a deep breath, nodded to the cat, and the pair of them lept to the ground. They were immediately surrounded by the other beasts, all offering their welcome and comfort. As Andrew slipped into the mist, he knew the collie would be all right. It was all as the Creator had planned, all part of the Great Promise. As he gazed at the scene below, he saw the little grey cat sneak away, and go to the edge of the meadow. Eyes closed, she purred with all her might. As she faded away, he knew where she was going. Looking toward Earth, he saw her carefully lick a tear from the woman's face, and curl up close to her side. They would hurt for awhile. Loving always comes with a price. But she and the man would heal, and give their hearts to another dog to tear. All was well.


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