This is a tribute to a friend of a friend–Bunny, the Divine Dog, who ‘belonged’ to my good friend, Sandi. (She would tell you, I’m sure, that the reality of the situation was quite the reverse: she belonged to Bunny.) A black Lab, he died last Friday, at the age of 15 and a half, after living a life of the kind of devotion and faithfulness only a dog can manage with any real grace.
My friend is grieving deeply–right now, she isn’t taking phone calls. But even in her sorrow, she is actually celebrating Bunny’s life, as much as mourning that he’s moved on. She loved him as completely as he loved her, and that is a sacred and beautiful thing. It is right and good, however painful, that she honor his passing with tears. It is a necessary rite of letting go.
Sandi stands, meanwhile, as an inspiring example of someone who really loves. She was with Bunny until the very end–she didn’t back away, she didn’t let him down. She repaid his faithfulness with her own. She held him until he breathed his last, wrapped him in his favorite sheet, and carried him the last mile. The day after he died, she took his leash and walked the familiar route they had traveled every morning for years. That, my friends, is LOVE.
Sandi is in tremendous pain right now. She is fully present to that pain, and for that, as well as having the courage to love so fully, I honor her from the very bottom of my heart. It would be easier to shut down, to try to avoid the hurt of this loss, but she’s too brave and too honorable to do that.
Most of you know how deeply I care for animals. To me, the measure of a society, or an individual, is not wealth, achievement, or success. The true measure of a human being, or a nation, is the way they treat the helpless ones. The innocent ones, who have no voices.
Yesterday, my cousin and general foreman, Mary Ann, found a little dog huddled in the middle of the road. She stopped and picked him up, because she, like Sandi, is one of the devoted ones, the ones who do not turn their backs. We’re trying to find his owners. In the meantime, he is safe with us. We will enfold and protect him.
Bunny’s heart safely trusted in Sandi.
Godspeed, Bunny the Divine. I know that, when Sandi steps out of the darkness and into the light, you’ll be there waiting. After all, you’re a dog.