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January 3, 2015: Spirit Animals

Talking about spirit animals is a wonderful way to usher in the New Year. I just read a handful of Jon Katz’s dispatches. He wrote that Simon, his rescue donkey just died. It’s always sad to learn of a much-loved animal’s death.

Katz also posted a few photos of Simon, dead in a freshly dug winter grave. Katz said that Simon had a stroke, he had him euthanized. In my mind, posting a photo of Simon, dead, was in extremely poor taste. It would have been far better to post a photo of him alive. We all know



he’s dead – a photo of him alive would then be the image that we’d carry around with us after the fact. I think that Katz did this because he wants people to be aware of the realities of farm life, and as well, that death is just the part of the natural order of things. In this case, this didn’t jive with me.

Katz also had a veterinarian come and euthanize Simon, meaning that he was given what we call the pink juice. Pink juice is supposedly bad for the environment and animals that are killed in such a fashion (I am told) ought not be buried. This is why Pete had Signy taken to the landfill rather than have her buried on our property. When I get to feeling bad about this, I remind myself that what was most important was that her spirit live on.

Spirit animals – according to Katz – are animals that come to live with us, and that there’s a reason for this. In other words, they are teachers of sorts. They do not stay with us forever, but until their job is done. Maybe they too think that there are spirit humans who are here for the same reason. I’d like to think so.

Spirit animals grace us with their presence and this more than makes up for the fact that they’re not with us forever. And of course, every single animal we’ve owned has been a spirit animal. How lucky is that?

Dogs Past:
It all began with our acquiring Bootleg. She lived 17 years – the time went by in the blink of an eye. She was part husky, part wolf. On the ride home from the veterinarian’s office, after we had her euthanized, we saw a license plate that read “Old Wolf.” This was her way of saying that, yes, she fully expected to live on in our hearts. I cannot speak for Pete, but she taught me the importance of commitment and consequently opened doors that otherwise would have been shut. Once open, other spirit animals marched in.

Dogs Present:
First and foremost is Rainbow, a husky mix with a wonderful spirit. She’s teaching me to be more trusting and less controlling. She doesn’t run off the way she used to – but once in a while she’ll take off down road, and in this way remind me that I need to be more trusting of smart dogs.

Next is Jenna, an Australian Shepherd with a very big heart. She’s my service human dog. She wants nothing more than to be with us 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I am learning from her to be more patient.

And next is Ryder. She was dropped off at a trailhead in Idaho, and we took her on. We know nothing of her past. I have always maintained that she was Mr. Siggi’s gift to us. I have repeatedly told Pete that she’s the dog I always wanted to have. She’s kind, loyal, and seems to love us dearly. I am learning from her the importance of being the same way. Yes, I am trying to emulate her.

Horses Present:
First, always, comes Raudi. Together, we are working to get things right. She is my animal soulmate.

Next is Tinni. A long time ago, we figured out how to get things right. If it were not for him, I would not be riding Raudi. Our number one riding horse is a slower, steady dependable trail blazer. Pete has taken him on and the two have now bonded.

And next is Hrimfara, whose name means Frosty Traveler She is the best named horse in the entire world. She was conceived at the onset of a trip and was her dam Signy’s gift to us. I am learning from her the importance of remaining steadfast and holding my ground, which is something that she does quite well.

Horses Past:
Mr. Siggi. He died in a trail accident. Just plain miss him.

Signy. She died last March, we think of a perforated intestine. Just plain miss her.

Goats Present:
Rover. He is teaching me the importance of unconditional love. Unreal, how he dotes on me.

Ranger. His enthusiasm for life is infectious. Sometimes I too race around and kick up my heels.

Goats Past:
Peaches. I learned from her to be flexible, kind, and gentle, and to speak up when necessary.

Chickens Present:
Sophie, Freebird, and Chickaroo. They are teaching me the importance of being a responsible human being. It brings me great joy to tend to them.

Chickens Past:
Stubbi, Catchi, Henny Penny Palin, Henrietta, Nimby, and Snooki. All were wonderful birds. All made me realize that compassion really is a virtue.

So spirit animals, each and every one, from Bootleg on, have been an important part of my life. Of course, each and every one has had a soul. I’d like to think that all, past and present, know that love is reciprocal.

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