Looking for Cian (a dog)

A short story of finding my dog from beyond this life

John Webster   Edited and Published by: Chris Stakutis

978 764 3488     August 2014   CTO www.concordsoftwareandexecutiveconsulting.com

[Chris and I authored Inescapable Data a few years ago and have been together in the storage business for a long while. This, however, is a story about my dog.]

I know this sounds crazy. I went looking for my dog who passed away months ago. He drowned in rain water, caught in a tarp covering the pool in our back yard. We found him floating alongside the yellow tennis ball he dropped into the water, which he jumped in to retrieve. He was crazy-fond of playing ball. He never tired of it.

Had I covered the entrance to the pool, he’d be alive today, and that’s why I can’t let go of him and why I went looking for him after he died.

Yes its guilt, but I think it’s more than that. Cian and I bonded when he was about two years old. Until Cian, I hadn’t known what it was to bond with an animal. Cian taught me. He would look into my eyes and I returned his gaze. And in that moment we made an agreement: I would take care of him, and he would take care of me. He was my companion. He loved me no matter what. He made me feel connected to life beyond humanity. Cian took care of me and I wanted him to take care of me again desperately.

I concluded that the only way to find him was to look for him in a place the psychics call the other side; the place inhabited by the energy forms of our loved ones when they have passed. I started by first finding a psychic with a reputation for connecting with animal spirits. My wife Penny and I went to her house in Haverhill MA on Friday evening a few months after his death. We sat at her old dark wooden table in her kitchen lined with curious knick knacks. She turned on a tape recorder and we started--can you imagine?

I didn’t know what to expect but assumed that, if she was to be believed, she would reveal to me some salient detail regarding his appearance that would confirm that he was indeed within the reach of my longing for him.  My rational self felt the whole thing was hokey; an elaborate emotional charade. But my profound sense of loss drove me to try anything, even if it would end in disillusionment--Perhaps a definition of courage.

She started describing a dog that was clearly not Cian. In fact, she described two dogs, neither of which fit my image of him. It was clear that one was named Clancy who died a few months before Cain of some mysterious disease that two vets were unable to treat. Like Cian, he was also a Cavalier Spaniel, smaller and less energetic.

He wasted away slowly until early one morning it became clear that he was beyond our help. I let the vet take him away. She returned Clancy to me wrapped in heavy plastic and placed inside a small cardboard box shaped something like a coffin.

I sobbed, but not from the depths of my being as I did for days after Cian died. I loved Clancy dearly, but he was not my dog--he was Penny’s and I believe he bonded with her. Clancy was a loving dog, but he couldn’t return my gaze the way Cian could. It was not his fault. He was a rescue dog when he came into our lives and was certainly abused by humans prior. (By contrast, Cian came to us from a puppy mill in the south central US as a pup). Yet I came to love Clancy in spite of his innate fear of me.

Clancy was second in line there in the psychics scented kitchen. First was Penny’s dog Dylan, a Norwegian Elkhound she got from a single man in Connecticut who, after seven years, could no longer care for him. Dylan developed severe arthritis which made him progressively less able to live a normal dog’s life to say nothing of the pain he must have experienced from his swollen joints. His pain was the first thing the psychic felt. She described herself as an empath able to feel the pain of animals, both those living and those passed. She pointed to her own right leg and winced. I tried to connect her gesture to Cian and gave up thinking that maybe we’d walked into a dead end. But it wasn’t Cian she had contacted first. He was third in this line.

And as it turned out, Cian wasn’t alone. He had a companion of his own: my father who had passed after a severe heart attack early one morning when I was eleven years old. This is that part of the psychic reading that started me thinking that there was believable substance to her visions. She said that he was honored to be caring for Cian and Clancy—Clancy too. A few days after Cian died and in the depths of my loss, I pleaded with whomever guardian angels who happened to be listening to please take care of him, to please give him companionship as I had a gnawing feeling that he was wandering alone in some place he didn’t understand. By saying that he was honored, she essentially told me that my father had heard me, yet she had no prior knowledge of my prayer. Later and completely without prompting, she told me that he liked my singing to him. (Yes, I sang to him when we were alone together.)

I had found Cian. He wasn’t in a place where we could take care of each other, but at least I made a connection once again and he had companionship. He was not alone.

Perhaps there are rules that govern the ways spirits, all spirits, connect with the living. The psychic in fact confirmed there are rules. The ones for animals are different than the ones for humans. Human spirits can’t return to us, but animals can. And so maybe he will. Or perhaps there’s another way to experience him if I can’t embrace him here. Perhaps I can if I learn how to experience him where he is now.

I know he’s with me.

© 2014 Chris Stakutis is an independent consultant, author, and software creator available to help your business.