The Utterly Amazing Story of Hagar
I want to tell you the story of my dog, Hagar. Maybe one day I'll tell the whole story but for now I will content myself with just telling you just the last chapter, the bit about when he left.
It's a strange story. Which is quite appropriate: Hagar was a very strange little dog. He was the most irascible, ornery little beastie you might ever meet. A whole ocean of stubborn-and-difficult packed into a pint-sized body. And while we are on the subject of that body and things that are strange… by-the-gods, was he not an odd-looking little fellow! When folks asked what breed he was we always joked he was a cross between a piece of dirty carpet and a toilet brush! So… given all that… given his piss-and-vinegar attitude and his odd looks… why did everyone he ever met instantly fall in love with him? Why was he always everyone's "favourite dog"? Why did he just melt your heart?
I don't know.
And it's not as if I didn't have enough time to figure it out. Hagar finally left us after being my constant companion for nearly 18 years. 18! That's a big number for a dog. And from the beginning he and I had one of those very special bonds. When I first got him as a puppy I only had a motorcycle. But that wasn't a problem – he used to put his front paws on the handle-bars, his back paws on the saddle and go riding with me. That's how we got around. It caused some crazy stares in the traffic, I can tell you! And he went everywhere with me charming people with his combination of attitude and intelligence. He was quite a dog. And I loved him like my very own child.
At age 15 Hagar was really still acting like a puppy. Bright, alert and energetic. No one could ever believe his age. But then, to my shock, I came to realise that he was slowly going deaf. At first I thought he was just ignoring me (which was quite possible given Hagar's basic nature) but eventually I had to concede that he really was losing his hearing. At first it was just soft sounds and certain frequencies that he didn’t respond to but I knew then already that he had started his decline. I had to confront the fact that Hagar was getting old and was going to die some day. I began mourning this and would sometimes sit with the little tyke on my lap and actually sob. His hearing continued its steady deterioration irrespective of any bargains I might have struck with angels, devils or veterinary practitioners. No matter what I did, I kept finding myself back in the same place: calling to him ever louder and louder and being heart-broken at his increased deafness.
I guess we came to understand the situation, he and I. I learned to make allowances and he learned hand-signs. He really did! He had always had an astounding grasp of English for a dog and now we were getting to the same place via sign-language. So I thought it was okay. But then, when he was about 16 years old I realised his eyesight was starting to fail too. And that went fast. Soon he was walking into furniture if it was moved out of its customary place and so on. And then he could only see large movements and could obviously not see my hand-signals anymore. I grieved and mourned.
But through all of this Hagar's spirits stayed unbelievably high. He just took all this in his stride and seemed quite happy still. He knew his way around the house and garden and his nose was clearly working VERY well still. When I took him to the park he now seemed able to entertain himself for hours with the smells on just one bush or the smallest patch of grass – the whole rest of the park disappearing out of his perceptual field. His world got much smaller but he was still essentially pretty happy. He loved his food. He loved our time together. He sometimes still wagged his little stump-tail so hard that his whole rear end would wag and he really seemed quite okay. I was both appalled and amazed at his ability to simply cope with the loss of his senses. I was taking it all a whole lot harder than he apparently was. But I took great solace from the fact that he was still as clear and sharp as ever, even if his eyes and ears were not.
And then, at about 16½ years, that rug was also pulled out under me. He began to get an Alzheimer's-like fog settling over his brain. Sometimes I'd look into his eyes and they would be dull: no one home. And then a bit later the lights would come on again and he'd be like a puppy again.
Then, two months later, he developed a really bad infection in his one eye. It was quite a mess. The vet said the only way forward involved general anaesthetic and that was not recommended for someone as old as Hagar. He would probably die on the table.
So I took him home and began to heal him as I could with love, meditation and some natural remedies. And in that state of trying to heal and love this dear old soldier I came to the realisation that is was actually time to let go. This just wasn't really fun anymore. Not for him and not for me. I meditated long and deep and then I made a decision. I felt it would simply be unworthy of our relationship for it to end at this low point. I wanted to say goodbye properly: in a way befitting the amazing 17 years I had had with the little old man. So I prayed (in my way) for a gift. I called upon a number of Light Beings with whom I am familiar and asked for a very special gift. I asked for what I called "the month of Hagar". I asked for one month in which Hagar would be free from discomfort and be mentally present enough so that he and I could have this last month to celebrate – and take our leave of – this wonderful relationship we had shared. And then, I told the Light Beings, I would be ready to finally let him go.
It was a strange thing. Though I was asking this of Spirit, I also knew that it was already given. I felt more like I was responding to a prompting to ask than that it was actually my idea. And so, bizarrely enough, it came as little surprise to me that I got exactly what I had asked for.
The very next day Hagar was amazingly alert and present. His eye infection began immediately to clear... right to the point of not bothering him or needing medical attention… and then it just stayed like that. His eyes were bright and he was energetic, lively and engaged. He was still deaf and almost blind but that just didn't seem to bother him. Sure, he couldn't climb the stairs anymore but that just meant I had to carry him with me whenever I went upstairs or down. He seemed to thoroughly enjoy the royal privilege!
And so it was! I had a month in which he was with me almost all the time, I took him to the forest and the park and we sat talking every night. It was just like the good old days. In fact, on the last day of the Month of Hagar, Lisa said to me "it's been a month" and I replied "yeah, but he's doing so well I'm sure he'll hang around much longer now". And then, the very next day, the "month of Hagar" over, he relapsed very, very badly. His little body just failed him. He could barely stand without his hind legs slipping out underneath him. He was suddenly incontinent. And the foggy haze was back full-blown - he was just not present and was totally confused.
I put a bowl of milk down in front of him and he choked on it – standing there confused, unable to drink this treat, unable to make sense of his world, lost and confused, he broke my heart. I picked him up to comfort him but from his response I knew he didn't even know who I was! To see my amazing feisty little critter reduced to this was more than I could take. So I decided (this was a Saturday) to take him to the vet and have him put down on the following Monday morning.
That evening I meditated and in deep meditation, a conversation occurred. My Inner-Self asked me if I was sure I wanted to take Hagar to the vet; if I didn't want to find a better way to let him go. I agreed I did. With a little guidance and prompting I stated my intent like this "I want Hagar to be able to go in whatever way is the most loving for all". As I said this I felt a wonderful, blissful calm come over me. I knew it was going to be okay. I went and sat next to Hagar's bed to say goodnight to him and he opened his eyes and was present again: the lights were on! I sat with him, loving him and he was totally aware and engaged, licking my hand and making the special little Hagar schnorfling sounds that he made when he was happy. In my heart, I just KNEW this was the very final goodbye. But I was really, finally, ready to let go. At last I had peace with his leaving. I'd mourned his passing for two or three years already. I had had the miraculous gift of "the month of Hagar" and I had decided to let him go. And here was a precious little goodbye moment. He fell asleep in my arms. I put him to back in his little bed and went to bed myself with a kind of bitter-sweet peace in my heart.
Given the meditative conversation I had had and the decision to let him go in "whatever way is the most loving for all", I thought I'd wake the next morning to find that he had died in his sleep. So, when I awoke, I steeled myself for the inevitability of a cold, dead little body in his bed. But when I looked in on him he was still breathing! I was puzzled but accepting. I didn't wake him.
It being a Sunday morning, Lisa and I decided to go out for a bite to eat. Just before we left, something inside my head said "where is Hagar?". Which was odd because I knew I'd still just find him fast asleep in his bed. But I didn't. He wasn't in his bed. He wasn't anywhere in my room. In fact, he wasn't anywhere in the house or on the property. He was nowhere to be found at all. Now, people that didn't see him at the end there might speculate he "got out". But I tell you this is impossible. Zing, my other much younger "child" who is a miniature Daschund, half Hagar's size, who is SUPER ACTIVE and who is the very naughtiest little so-and-so, could not get out of that property. And if Zing couldn’t then blind, deaf, semi-bed-ridden Hagar could definitely not!
Some friends said "maybe he hid somewhere to die". Dogs do this sometimes. Well, not to put too fine a point on it but, in the months after Hagar’s disappearance, on that small city property with its minute garden, we'd have KNOWN about it! So that wasn't it.
But back to the story. Lisa and I searched high and low. Even though he couldn't climb stairs, we searched upstairs. Even though he couldn't get through the gate, we searched the alley behind the house. Even though he couldn't get out, we searched the neighbourhood. We looked everywhere! And then, at some point, we met up in the house and looked at each other and admitted to each other that we both KNEW it was all okay. "He's fine, wherever he is," we agreed. We both KNEW this to be true. I don't know how, but we did. Then I told Lisa about my meditation and the choice to allow Hagar to go in "whatever way is the most loving for all". And we both KNEW, in our hearts, that something truly miraculous had just occurred. You can draw your own conclusions but in my heart and in my truth I know that Hagar was fetched home. It was just not fitting that his life should end with his body being chemically terminated at the Vet. It would also not have been fitting for me to have to find his dead little body in the bed the next morning. None of these would have been the way that was “the most loving for all”. And, I really believe, it was just not necessary for him to die like that. The most loving way for Hagar to end was for him not to end at all. So he just went home!
And you know? In some of my deeper meditations since thenI have had flashes - sort of like watching an intensely realistic movie clip - in which I have seen scenes of Hagar's life… but all viewed from Hagar's perspective! I felt I was given a gift of a moment of Hagar's life and then each time, immediately afterwards, I felt the warmest sunshine in my heart. It is clear to me. I was being told, "I am Hagar, I am still here and I love you".
Now I ask you: If my scruffy little mutt can reach out to me like that from "the other side", to send his bright parcel of sunshine-love, how much more is possible from the great heart of the Creator of All? The very sun in the sky is His heart-beat. The wind is His breath. And we are His thoughts. And I, it must be said, am a happy thought! My heart is just so full of gratitude for... for everything, I guess. Isn't life itself a miracle?
So I wonder. Is this really the last chapter in the story of Hagar? Or will I see him again? Given my experiences of Life and of Hagar I tend to think I should stay open to miracles and surprises!