St. Francis’s Blessing of the Animals

There is a beautiful tradition I observe every year on October 4th, with our household pets. It is a holy day in the Roman Catholic church — The Feast of St. Francis. Though I may not always get over to church for the formal ceremony, I do a “Pet Blessing” for each of our cats, and even sprinkle holy water on them (though they don’t like it!). St. Francis of Assisi is my patron saint, as I am a wildlife conservationist and promote a vegan lifestyle, which does not exploit animals for food or clothing. I love that Pope Francis models himself after the “poor man of Assisi” with his kindness, compassion, and humble manner. I highly recommend the following book written by the Holy Father, for anyone who loves God’s creations and desires to protect them, and preserve the sanctity of Mother Nature:   https://tinyurl.com/y2bnfgnb

In addition, and in keeping with the Patron Saint of animals, ecology, nature and our ecosystem, here’s the statement from Pope Francis on “World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation” issued September 1st this year:  https://tinyurl.com/y4vmvlf9

I’ve compiled some relevant images to share on this special day, in celebration of our fellow beings! Click on any image to learn more.

Spending more time in the natural world, away from technology, is incredibly healing and restorative. Praying Nature with St. Francis of Assisi shows us the way: http://www.praying-nature.com/site_pages.php?section=Guide+for+Nature+Lovers

And here is the “Blessing of the Animals” for at-home observance with your beloved pets:

God of all creation, at the beginning of time you gave us beautiful creatures of the earth as our fellow beings. And in your wisdom, these animals, like all good things from you, became more than that. They became our friends and companions. Loving St. Francis considered animals of all species his brothers and sisters. We ask you, therefore, to bless them in the natural world, and our own beloved ___pet name(s)___, that they may have a long and joyful life. Keep them safe when we cannot be with them, protect them from sickness and harm and heal their wounds. And bless us too, their human companions, with your Holy Spirit that we may care for our pets well, and be wise, gentle stewards of every one of your creatures and the earth, Mother to all life.

We ask this in the name of your Son Jesus, who is Lord of all forever and ever. Amen.

For a radiantly beautiful and inspiring picture of St. Francis blessing eight dogs, birds and other creatures:  https://tinyurl.com/y2trncsc

Have a blessed day, with your special friends!

Encore: Our Sweet Baby Bodhi :-)

Today marks 14 years since this beautiful, scrawny little kitten came into our lives. And July 26th being just before our anniversary, that’s why I remember it so well. 🙂 Here is an encore of my last post about Bodhi, this time with pictures!

“It’s been a year to the day since my husband and I said goodbye to our feline child Bodhi, and I couldn’t bring myself to write this any sooner. It’s heartbreaking when your beloved pet dies, even when you have other pets in the household. I work from home, so I’m fortunate to have my furry kids with me most of the time. I count my blessings every day. Still grieving takes its toll, and I start crying when I happen to look at Bodhi’s favorite places to curl up and take his naps. I do find comfort in having our other cats, Pierre and Isabella, who are 4 1/2 yrs. old, beautiful, strong and healthy. Bodhi in his prime was totally in charge of the household, with me as his Pet Mom, pampering him and indulging his every whim. I even sang a lullaby to him, as he sat on my lap. We’ve had many cats over the years, but I bonded with Bodhi the most, aside from Sabrina Faire, our very first mother cat. Like her, Bodhi chose to be with us, rather than being born into the family.

Our sweet baby Bodhi began life as a stray, just an abandoned kitten. That’s one of the things I liked best about his entrance into our lives. He came to us humbly and in need, left us and went feral again,  then Bodhi miraculously came back – just showed up in our backyard after being away for almost 3 months! Most feral cats once they leave, they’re gone. But not Bodhi! Our furry “prodigal son” returned of his own volition. It was his choice to come back and stay with us, even if it meant being neutered and domesticated.

My husband and I joked about how Bodhi – a handsome Russian Blue – had returned from “Tom Cat Boot Camp”. Why? Because he was bigger and had jowls, and looked every bit a dominant male. He was really “buffed” and strutting his stuff! That soon changed, once he returned on February 4, 2009.  Exactly two weeks later (happened to be my birthday), we took him to our vet and he got “fixed”, de-wormed and vaccinated.

I should really call this, “The Saga of Bodhi”. It all started when he showed up, starving and mewing outside our guest bedroom window. We had just moved to and were settling in to our first home in San Jose. It was July 26, 2005 (day before our anniversary)  I was typing away at my desk, when I heard “Mee-you!” and thought I’d imagined it, then again, “MEEE-YOU!!” more insistent and louder. So I looked outside the window, and there he was gazing up at me, with his little mouth wide open — non-stop mewing. Poor baby! I went outside right away, and saw this scrawny, grey kitten underneath a tree. I named him “Bodhi” for the famous Bodhi tree that the Buddha sat under, and from which he received enlightenment.

Bodhi lounging on unicorn blanket, grooming himself. 

Despite my husband telling me not to take in any strays, I immediately put out cat food and a bowl of water.  We saw Bodhi every day in our front yard, but I wanted him to be safer in our backyard, so food and water bowls were moved there, and that became Bodhi’s territory. Aggressive male cats challenged him, and our backyard became a battleground. But Bodhi prevailed, so he was officially designated the Alpha Cat!

Bodhi may have conquered our backyard, but he was happiest in our home, as a member of the family, along with mama cat Sabrina Faire and her kittens Buddy and Midnight. It was a gradual transition, from the garage, which was Bodhi’s playroom for almost a year, to being part of our household. He had the freedom to come and go as he pleased through the side door, while our other kitties were kept strictly indoors. Bodhi had everything he needed in our “finished garage”:  kibble, water, his own litter box, toys to play with, and a comfy cozy kitty bed to take his naps. But his favorite place was curling up in my lap, as I sat in an old rocking chair. I sang to him a lullaby I wrote, to the tune of “Barney’s” song: “I love you, you love me, that is just as it should be. With a lick, lick, nuzzle nuzzle, give a little scratch.  Behind your ears which perfectly match.” Bodhi was our only cat who balanced freedom of the outdoors, with the safety of indoors. He truly had the best of both worlds!”

Speaking of different worlds, my husband and I just saw ET: The Extraterrestrial for the umpteenth time, and I love the scene with ET hiding in the closet. The mother doesn’t have a clue there’s an alien in the house!

Can you find the kitty in this picture?  Here’s Bodhi’s imitation of ET posing as a stuffed animal.  Fooled us when we were looking all through the house for him! 

“Goodbye, My Sweet Baby Bodhi”

It’s been a year to the day since my husband and I said goodbye to our feline child Bodhi, and I couldn’t bring myself to write this any sooner. It’s heartbreaking when your beloved pet dies, even when you have other pets in the household. I work from home, so I’m fortunate to have my furry kids with me most of the time. I count my blessings every day. Still grieving takes its toll, and I start crying when I happen to look at Bodhi’s favorite places to curl up and take his naps. I do find comfort in having our other cats, Pierre and Isabella, who are 4 1/2 yrs. old, beautiful, strong and healthy. Bodhi in his prime was totally in charge of the household, with me as his Pet Mom, pampering him and indulging his every whim. I even sang a lullaby to him, as he sat on my lap. We’ve had many cats over the years, but I bonded with Bodhi the most, aside from Sabrina Faire, our very first mother cat. Like her, Bodhi chose to be with us, rather than being born into the family.

Our sweet baby Bodhi began life as a stray, just an abandoned kitten. That’s one of the things I liked best about his entrance into our lives. He came to us humbly and in need, left us and went feral again,  then Bodhi miraculously came back – just showed up in our backyard after being away for almost 3 months! Most feral cats once they leave, they’re gone. But not Bodhi! Our furry “prodigal son” returned of his own volition. It was his choice to come back and stay with us, even if it meant being neutered and domesticated.

My husband and I joked about how Bodhi – a handsome Russian Blue – had returned from “Tom Cat Boot Camp”. Why? Because he was bigger and had jowls, and looked every bit a dominant male. He was really “buffed” and strutting his stuff! That soon changed, once he returned on February 4, 2009.  Exactly two weeks later (happened to be my birthday), we took him to our vet and he got “fixed”, de-wormed and vaccinated.

I should really call this, “The Saga of Bodhi”. It all started when he showed up, starving and mewing outside our guest bedroom window. We had just moved to and were settling in to our first home in San Jose. It was July 26, 2005 (day before our anniversary)  I was typing away at my desk, when I heard “Mee-you!” and thought I’d imagined it, then again, “MEEE-YOU!!” more insistent and louder. So I looked outside the window, and there he was gazing up at me, with his little mouth wide open — non-stop mewing. Poor baby! I went outside right away, and saw this scrawny, grey kitten underneath a tree. I named him “Bodhi” for the famous Bodhi tree that the Buddha sat under, and from which He received enlightenment.

Despite my husband telling me not to take in any strays, I immediately put out cat food and a bowl of water.  We saw Bodhi every day in our front yard, but I wanted him to be safer in our backyard, so food and water bowls were moved there, and that became Bodhi’s territory. Aggressive male cats challenged him, and our backyard became a battleground. But Bodhi prevailed, so he was officially designated the Alpha Cat!

Bodhi may have conquered our backyard, but he was happiest in our home, as a member of the family, along with mama cat Sabrina Faire and her kittens Buddy and Midnight. It was a gradual transition, from the garage, which was Bodhi’s playroom for almost a year, to being part of our household. He had the freedom to come and go as he pleased through the side door, while our other kitties were kept strictly indoors. Bodhi had everything he needed in our “finished” garage:  kibble, water, his own litter box, toys to play with, and a comfy cozy kitty bed to take his naps. But his favorite place was curling up in my lap, as I sat in an old rocking chair. I sang to him a lullaby I wrote, to the tune of “Barney’s” song: “I love you, you love me, that is just as it should be. With a lick, lick, nuzzle nuzzle, give a little scratch.  Behind your ears which perfectly match.” Bodhi was our only cat who balanced freedom of the outdoors, with the safety of indoors. He truly had the best of both worlds!

There’s more to show with kitty photos, but today is difficult with no access to a computer to download and include them here. Also, I have to take time to pray at my altar. I am now placing our beloved’s urn there, which is inscribed: In Loving Memory – My Sweet Bodhi Boy, Who Gave Me So Much Joy, Rest In Peace My Love, In God’s Heaven Above.”

Goodbye, my furry child.  I shall never forget you. 

Lucky – In Memoriam 5/10/2014

This day – today – I am in double sadness because it is the anniversary of our dear canine companion, Lucky, who passed away of a heart attack, day before Mother’s Day four years ago. I had just started my Twitter account, and paid tribute to him there, but that’s really not enough to show my deep gratitude to Lucky – not nearly!

The additional sadness is loss of our cat Bodhi very recently, who had to be euthanized April 3rd. I started to write a post for him, but didn’t finish. The hurt is so raw, and I am in the midst of grieving… I cannot bring myself to write about all that I loved about my sweet baby Bodhi. Not just yet, but I will write a beautiful tribute for him and post it here on my blog. Bodhi’s story is unusual and very colorful… But I do have our other beloved kitties to take care of, a house to clean, a husband to feed, etc. Many chores that never seem to get done! But sometimes you just have to stop and reflect on what you feel at the time. Each day comes and goes so quickly. One moment your beloved pet is laying at your feet, nuzzling your hand with his wet nose, the next he’s laying dead down the hall. It was such a shock, and there’s no way I was prepared. It was just after midnight, so we had to wait until morning. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep that night.

My husband was out of work at the time, so we couldn’t pay to have Lucky cremated and placed in a decorative urn. So his body had to be taken to San Jose Animal Care Center for a “communal cremation”. I’m surprised that I didn’t just “lose it” with this family tragedy, but somehow I kept it together, and we even went to our Mother’s Day celebration at my sister-in-laws house. I am notorious for having a “delayed reaction” to very upsetting events, so I must’ve been in a daze, or denial the whole day long. It took awhile to really sink in that our rescue dog Lucky was gone. All that was left was his collar and pictures to remember him by. His brother, Chance, whom I did write about in a more timely manner (see post, “Chancey Baby – In Memoriam” ) has an attractive urn which is displayed with others from our pets who have lived and loved with us, in our cabinet in the living room. But these “displays” are for our human need to have something of them to cling to. Our pets don’t have any such “needs”. They are beyond that, and when they pass on and cross that veil, they are welcomed into a heavenly domain called “Rainbow Bridge”, where they live in eternal bliss and contentment. And just like with the poem, “Footprints”, the poet who wrote the following is unknown. It is one of the most beautiful and moving poems I have ever read, and always brings tears to my eyes:

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=rainbow+bridge&&view=detail&mid=BE64C6EF21E059F9E9E2BE64C6EF21E059F9E9E2&rvsmid=01C80D23DD8C2C33842301C80D23DD8C2C338423&FORM=VDQVAP

There is another version on my other “memoriam” post for Chance, so please enjoy both. I cannot find that perfect picture of Lucky, and I really need to post this now, so I will have to include in a follow-up. Like his brother, he gave unconditional love and affection throughout his life, and I cherished every moment spent with my adorable Lucky! He is romping through the meadows with Chance, deliriously happy and free at Rainbow Bridge. As I said before, there’s no pain, no disease or disability in this beautiful field of eternity, only happiness and contentment. Lucky is in God’s forever care and at peace. Bless you, my brown-eyed beloved!

Chancey Baby – In Memoriam

Last Friday, I posted my thoughts and feelings about the loss of my faithful companion, our beloved Chance. I don’t think I did him justice, with my ranting about the unfortunate timing. I loved him with all my heart, and that bittersweet, intense devotional love wasn’t there in my message. Please forgive me. I work from home, so I am constantly reminded of his not being here.

Do you know what that’s like? All those years of having our beautiful boy ready, willing and eager to be with us. Simply being around us made him happy, whatever we were doing, watching TV, getting dinner in the kitchen, working at the computer. And then, he’s gone. And the house is so quiet, you could hear a pin drop. I complained about his barking before, and longed for peace and quiet. Well, I have plenty of that now. Be careful what you wish for…

Chance would lay right by the desk. He would be here with me now. Sometimes he’d try to get under the desk, but he was too big to fit there! I’d look at him and he’d be so happy, looking up at me with his big brown eyes. Oh my God, Chance’s eyes were filled with such unconditional love and devotion… Eyes really are the windows to the soul – that’s not just an expression. Chance lived his love and affection with gusto throughout his life.

When my husband and I came home from dinner that first night, and didn’t hear Chance barking, we were so sad and it seemed strange. We might as well have been in someone else’s home. Such a weird feeling. Chance always greeted us with a smile and a wag, and many times he howled like a wolf – Awooo! Auwooo!! He would lick my hands, my face, ’cause that’s how dogs kiss us… arggh – doggie slobber! Our baby was ecstatic every time we came home… We joked about how it always seemed to him like we were gone forever, even if it was just a couple of hours. Ah yes, guess that’s how it is with dogs. 🙂

Here’s some pics of our baby. Oh boy, did he look forward to his walks!

Jacqueline 049

We replaced the collar with a harness, which he liked much better! Since he and his brother Lucky were rescued from abuse and neglect, Chance had abandonment issues when he came to us. They were never really socialized, so we couldn’t take our dogs to the park, like other pet parents. All we could do was walk them around the neighborhood. Chance used to pull on his leash, and it was all I could do to keep up with him! I’d say, “Here’s Chance, sporting the latest in canine high fashion. You look so handsome in your halter top!” He walked proudly and many times ran along the sidewalk (keeping off our neighbor’s lawns), the wind in his face… I didn’t really want to “control” him. I’m glad now that he ran as free as he could — while he still could. Arthritis and hip dysplasia brought him down physically, but never quashed his spirit…

Chance is romping about healthy, happy and whole with his pal Lucky at a place in the celestial realm called “Rainbow Bridge”, where our beloved pets go when they die. There’s no pain, no disease or disability in this beautiful field of eternity, only happiness and contentment. He is in God’s hands and at peace. Bless you, my brown-eyed beloved.

Jacqueline 052

Faithful Friday

It’s been over two weeks, and I still feel the pangs of loss, remorse, guilt and regret. It’s happened before, losing a loved one, but the timing this time was uncanny.

The 27th of July was our Wedding Anniversary, and it happened to fall in the middle of week. My husband couldn’t take that day off, so we planned to celebrate over the weekend. Doggone it, our 25th anniversary!  We had to do something really special. David’s brother and sister-in-law went on a cruise to Alaska for theirs, and friends of ours are right now on a cruise to Alaska, celebrating their 30th! Sounds like I’m being a petulant brat here, given the crisis we were grappling with in our family, but it’s really just exasperation.

A cruise is an expensive trip we can’t afford. And we didn’t have a pet sitter who could take care of 3 cats and a very sick dog… Good grief, how could we go anywhere when one of our fur babies needed us?

Before I went to bed, I looked over bouquets of flowers online to send to my husband’s office the next day. I had a strange sensation of “What’s the point?” I didn’t order anything.

During the night, I got up to go potty and so carefully walked around our dog, Chance, so as not to disturb him. He always lay at the foot of our bed. His legs were stretched out, and he sometimes stretched in his sleep. In the faint glow of the nightlight I could barely see him, so I didn’t know yet.

I’ve been through this before, and the intense sadness and foreboding are palpable. Why am I so afraid of what might happen? I kept thinking, “I know my Chancy Baby is very ill, but he’s getting better with the medicine – isn’t he?” Pitiful… denying the inevitable.

Well, in the light of day on Wednesday, the 27th, I reached over to hug my husband (I still didn’t know) to wish him “Happy Anniversary, darling.” But the words didn’t come and I had an odd feeling of gloom and doom. David groaned (he already knew) and got up to take his shower…

I peeked over to Chance’s water bowl. One side effect of his medicine is increased thirst, and Chance drank water constantly, day and night. Damn! The bowl was full. Still under the covers, I looked over the end of the bed and saw Chance laying on his left side, legs stretched out and his right ear flopped back . I thought, “Ah, he’s relaxed and sleeping soundly.” But I didn’t see any sign of breathing. I finally got up and moved closer to him.

I hated saying it, “Honey, Chance has passed away.” I was crying but couldn’t bring myself to touch him. Death scares me, though I’ve seen it enough times with our pets. Doesn’t matter, it always hits you like a punch in the stomach. You feel sick and helpless.

David had to go to work. His company’s audit started that day. There I was, with a deceased pet, who had to remain in our bedroom until my sister-in-law and her boyfriend could help transport him to the clinic that afternoon. Chance was a rescue dog, a 14yr. old German Shepherd/Queenshound mix. He weighed 65 pounds, and I sure couldn’t lift and carry him myself.

Before they came, I said a prayer which I always do for any beloved family member who passes. We had bought for Chance an all natural holistic mouth spray from TruDog, but hadn’t started using it. His dental care paled in comparison to the cancer just diagnosed that was ravaging his body… Too little, too late.

He did outlive his brother, Lucky, who died of a heart attack just over two years ago. So sudden, we didn’t arrange for private cremation for Lucky at that time. At least Chance is getting an urn with a lovely sentiment engraved, from Bubbling Well in Napa, CA. We are also arranging for a “symbolic” urn for Lucky, so we have something more than his collar to remember him by.

Lucky and Chance were both rescue dogs – loyal, faithful companions right to the end. Animals don’t judge you, or question your motives. They simply accept you are you are – “warts and all” – a refreshing change of pace, compared to most people I know! What’s more, it’s worth remembering that DOG backwards spells GOD. I embrace this because I believe God loves us unconditionally, and without reservation. We all know dogs love their pet parents that way too! You know it when they plant a big wet one on your cheek… Arghh, doggie slobber! 🙂

Right now at my desk, I’m looking at a beautiful dedication on the back of the catalog from TruPet, by Lori R. Taylor, Founder & CEO. I’m not promoting this company. I simply like their message, and want to share it with you:

“Dedicated to the dogs who heal our hearts and make us whole.

May your legacy be the light that saves the world.”

Truer words were never spoken – or written. God Bless our faithful friends!

4th of July? You kidding? I’m busy with quadruplets!!!!

I have no time for 4th of July “Independence Day”, or fireworks celebrations. Our only celebration is birthing 4 (Yes, Four!) healthy babies who are all actively breastfeeding- getting plenty of mother’s milk! So important to stay well hydrated for the mother, as I’m learning now… OH the sleepless nights, the strange cravings, the demands of newborns – I’m exhausted!  Yikkes, will it ever end??

Yes, when they are all weaned at about 6 weeks! (lol!)

As of today, these “weensie” (term my mom always used), little ones are just 6 days old, and the mother cat is doing fine. So I’m feeling not very “independent” this day, or enjoying my freedom, as I have a solemn responsibility to care for and protect our kitties. This keeps me at home just as much as if I had given birth to them myself (though I’m glad I didn’t!) and really curtails my socializing.

Hey that’s okay with me, as I am a dedicated Pet Mom, and ohmygosh they are soooo adorable!! So my time is taken up with “dependents”, as we have two other cats, a big dog and three birds – whew! 🙂

Pictures of the momma and babies forthcoming, whenever I get a chance. She’s meowing again, and needs me…

It’s a lot of work, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!