Archive for the ‘dogs as teachers’ Category

Lobo’s postscript

Monday, August 4th, 2014

Last week I was sitting in my meditation room where I had finished a meditation and was re-reading theologian Jean-Yves LeLoup’s translation and commentary on the Gospel of Mary Magdalene. In it, he was referring to the word “nous,” his translation of a word in the gospel that refers to a state of consciousness. The “nous” is related to what we call the imagination, but it is a higher state, a kind of bridge between the imagination and the realm of spirit. It is the state Mary Magdalene described as the plaee where she was able to perceive the risen Christ.

I was thinking that the “nous” must be where I meet helping spirits in shamanic journeys. Engrossed in these heady ponderings, I suddenly became aware that I felt a presence in the room. It was unmistakably Lobo. I didn’t see him with my physical eye, but I sensed his energy, as if he was prying his big body in between the table and the couch, as he used to do. Saying hello. Wanting to lick me in the face and stare at me with his big eyes.

I’ve felt his presence before many times, and have felt others on “the other side” as well. But the synchronicity of this visit (complete with the energy of his strong wagging tail) and my reading about the “nous” was…striking. I felt Lobo had come to teach me one more lesson. It was on resurrection.

My biological father was killed in World War II when I was just a baby, and he has come to visit several times to help me. The most memorable time was when one of my daughters was in crisis and I felt he had a message for her. So I took it down in the middle of the night. I felt him dictating to me, and the letter contained wisdom that I hadn’t been able to offer, in a voice that was not my own.

Visits from the other side don’t make sense to our rational minds, and yet you may have had an experience of them. It might have been through an unlikely visit by a wild animal. Or by receiving a stunning object from nature. There are many ways the “nous” can lift the veil for us, so that we can receive the love that needs no explaining.

I think Lobo came to remind me that our animals do indeed have souls, and that they become part of our “familiars,” our unseen tribe of helpers, whose wisdom and loyalty we can experience when we relax our minds into that imaginal space where they speak the language of the heart. There is a bridge to a place where we can experience the guidance that makes mystics drunk with the wine of spirit. The word “nous” means “we” in French; this land is a place of rare connection. And it is our birthright.

Thank you, dear Lobo, for your visit, and for this beautiful lesson. How lovely to know that you are waiting across that bridge that must be the rainbow bridge they talk about. Waiting to tell us even more about the new land where you romp freely, and still make your visits to our neighborhood.

Lobo’s Last Lesson

Monday, July 21st, 2014



L's bedWe owners know intellectually that our dogs’ lives pass by much more quickly than our own, but when they begin to fail, it’s utter torture.

Lobo wasn’t a big fetcher, but over the years, Jon had convinced him to go out to get the morning paper and carry it back to the house for a treat. This was always subject to Lobo’s mood that morning, and his periodic refusals were evidence that he could hold himself above bribery. Sometimes he’d go at it with real enthusiasm, throwing the paper up in the air or ripping it to shreds. Other times he’d decide to take it over to his outdoor bed, as if he was planning to lounge there with his coffee. But eventually, he just didn’t want to spend his waning energy on this ridiculous routine. He’d bark at Jon to remind him to go, but then he’d sit on the step and just wait.

Horseback rides with Jon were once a non-negotiable. It was evidently a manly thing to do to go out with the neighbor men, even when it meant trotting for miles, lying down in the shade and panting when necessary, and begging water from Jon. Even in later years when he’d be sore for days, he was not about to be left behind. When his arthritis became obvious, Jon left him once with me. He kept scanning for the horses in the distance and howling and crying. He knew he couldn’t do it any more, but it was as bad for him as it is for some elderly people to have their car keys taken away.

For years when we took him to our place in the mountains, Lobo would be delighted to take advantage of “ranch rules,” which allowed him to get up on the furniture. But eventually, leaping up on our bed was impossible, and he was relegated to the rug.

When he started refusing to take walks, we knew something was really happening inside that big dog body. He would lie on his outdoor bed and just stare at me with his ears down, a clear “No, thanks.” He would go with Jon up until the very end, when we had to agree with the animal communicator that he was getting ready to leave his body.

Lobo’s last lesson was how to die well. He did what he wanted, following his own instincts rather than our wishes. He was extra affectionate, approaching us almost every day just to stare into our eyes. He talked more, developing sounds that became an understandable language. And when it became clear that there were no options left except his suffering, he had loved ones around him singing and drumming and feeding him all the treats he wanted. I would love such a farewell.

We sprinkled Lobo’s ashes in his favorite places around the house. Some under the mesquite trees where he buried bones, treats and the horse brushes he had stolen. The  container of ashes had sat for weeks on a little kitchen shrine with a Day of the Dead dog figure with a paper in his mouth. Next to it was a card from the vet that always made us laugh. It was to Jon and Patty. (Patty was Jon’s first wife back in the 70’s. Someone’s records need updating.)

As I write this, Jon is away on a fishing trip, and the house is absolutely silent. No need to go out and remind Lobo not to bark. The house hasn’t been cleaned for two weeks, because there’s no dog hair. If Lobo were here, he’d be depressed and would be doing a lot of waiting up on his outdoor bed. And so I tell myself there are advantages. The squirrels and birds are happy he’s gone. But I haven’t been able to get rid of his outdoor bed. Sometimes when I drive in, I think I see him there, scanning the yard, making sure the area is safe for me.

Surely we’ll get another dog. And surely we will love that one, and cry again when that one dies. But I know we’ll never forget Lobo. Just like any member of the family, there are no substitutes.

He was indeed, my teacher.


Lobo’s Lesson #6

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

A family of coyotes built a den below our next door neighbors’ property, and must have been mystified for ten years by the next door neighbor dog who chased them one minute and howled with them the next.

We’re not sure what Lobo was saying when he joined in with their songs, but he sounded like a songdog just tuning up and jamming with the band. Since his howl was as loud as his bark, the cuteness would wear off after a few rounds, and we’d either be scolding him into being quiet or escorting the concert outdoors. The most the vet would theorize was that Lobo was part hound. But we knew there was real communication going on.

We always worried when Lobo was young and fit, and after disappearing for awhile he would return panting hard, obviously after having been on an exciting chase. A couple of times tufts of hair were missing from his hind end, indicating he had either been too slow, or had been surrounded by the coyotes’ notorious pack attacks. The fact that he survived meant to us that among the species there was a big game of chicken going on, and that the rivalry was mostly in fun.

Humans are the ones who are out of it where animal communication is concerned. We couldn’t figure out how Lobo was communicating with the coyotes, or with the fierce mother cows whose babies he chased. All we knew was that as we passed certain moms on our walks, he would give way. Not a word was said, but he would put his ears down and slow his walk, chastened. Other times, he chased to his heart’s desire despite the glares of the whole herd. Our horses were the same. Who knew why he could drive one horse crazy with his teasing, while he knew he’d better leave the other one alone.

Even though we couldn’t figure out Lobo’s communication, he had our language down pat. Over ten years he learned a lot of English, but the language that fascinated us the most was the silent, telepathic one.

Sometimes he would get lonely and bark after we left, our neighbors informed us. So we’d put a dreaded bark collar on him before leaving the house. In his later years, he knew we were coming. I would venture into the garage and open the door, the bark collar hidden behind my back. Often he would already be walking away from me to escape, which he would never do when I wasn’t armed with electricity. How did he know?

When his last days were coming and he began to fail, he told us as best he could what he wanted and what he didn’t want. One day I made an appointment to take him to the vet, and he refused to get in the car. No amount of lies about the great drive we were going to take, and no amount of treats would convince him. He already weighed in at 120 lbs., but when he was refusing to be moved, he could effectively make himself weigh 500. I gave up. When I called an animal communicator and had her do a reading on him, she said he hadn’t felt the trip to the vet was necessary. Later when he was sicker, he cooperated.

When his back end was failing him, we both had travel commitments and started to worry about him deciding to leave his body while we were gone. So I had a talk with him. “Lobo, we’re going to have to leave. Now, I know you’re getting ready to move on, and I know you’ll do that in your own time, whenever you’re ready. But if there’s any way you can wait until we’re all together, that would be great.” He stared at me with those golden eyes, as he had done at least once a day, and I knew he got the message. And, I knew he would do exactly as he pleased.

We are the ones who don’t think telepathy is natural. Animals must communicate using energetic frequencies, emotional tones in a scale we don’t even hear. Yet we probably could if we believed in our abilities.

I wish Lobo were still here to teach me all the languages he knew. Maybe even I could turn into a songdog.

Lessons from Lobo #5

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014


Lobo snake bite 

As protective and fierce as Lobo could appear, sometimes he was a big baby.

He must have heard Thunder speak to him like a great god who came ripping over the mountain growling and barking with a voice big enough to send him under the dining room table or huddled behind my office desk. Our Tucson monsoons are convincing for sure, but no amount of reassuring made them easy for him.

Jon made a big mistake when Lobo was a scared puppy who refused to venture into our swimming pool: he threw him in. From then on, Lobo would run along the edge barking at the water we’d splash up at him. He’d wade onto the first step and lie down there at the end of a long, hot walk in the desert. But no amount of cajoling would convince him to go deeper. He never blamed Jon; the trauma had been inflicted by the Great Pool God, who had sucked him in and pushed him under. For some reason the Pool God did not scare humans, but that was probably due to their stupidity.

Unfortunately, one fear Lobo had to learn from experience was his fear of rattlesnakes. One day when Jon was fortunately home, he heard a yelp unlike any he’d heard before. Lobo came inside foaming at the mouth, and hid under the dining room table. Jon could see two fresh pinpoints of blood on his nose. Clearly, Lobo had gotten overconfident.

After a couple of phone consults with neighbors who had various home remedies, Jon called the animal emergency hospital. “Don’t give him any antihistamine. Don’t give him anything; just get him here,” they counseled. $1800 and two vials of antivenom later, I picked him up the following morning. In this case, weighing 120 lbs. had been an advantage.

We decided that just in case he hadn’t gotten the message (after all, he still chased coyotes, mother cows and the neighborhood hawk), we’d give him snake training. We met the snake trainer out in Oracle, where he parked his truck full of penned rattlesnakes he had de-fanged himself. We’re talking the wild west here.

First, he put one of those evil Collars on Lobo, so that he could shock him if he didn’t pass every snake test: sight, sound, and smell. He put a wriggler down and took Lobo on a leash nearby. He turned around and ran; it was a pass.

Then he put a rattler in a burlap bag and annoyed it somehow, so that it rattled. Lobo got it. (Anything to avoid that Collar!)

Finally, he hid the bagged snake underneath Jon’s truck and called Lobo, unleashed, over toward the truck. Lobo leaped into the truck’s open window. An A+.

After that, on summer evening walks, we’d have Lobo lead, which he always did anyway. If he veered off the path, we followed him. In addition to being an amateur cattle herder, a rabbit population control officer and a coyote wrangler, Lobo was now a certified snake guide. When we’d find one in the yard, Jon would use our long snake tongs to hoist it into a big bucket, and he and Lobo would drive it a few miles away to vacant land and give it a new home.

And Lobo wore his snake nose tattoo proudly, probably figuring it was a badge of courage. We never had the heart to tell him that we saved his life, probably for the second time.

Lesson #4 from Lobo

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014


Lobo with Jon

Whatever breed made up most of Lobo’s genetics, he was a watchdog. Perhaps his primary job was to protect his property, and most of all, his two-legged underlings.

His ideas about who was suspicious may have come from unfortunate early experiences, and this gave him the appearance of prejudice. He barked at anyone with dark skin, anyone wearing a cap, and anyone who was carrying a long tool like a rake over his shoulder. His bark was utterly terrifying—loud, persistent, and utterly convincing. The poor women who came to clean our house were terrified of him. And he was secretly terrified of anyone who was terrified. Their fear along with their big vacuum cleaner made the situation untenable, so he was banished to his outdoor pen every other Tuesday morning.

And so we worried every time a workman arrived; he was much more suspicious of men than women. But despite his brown skin, his habit of wearing a cap and the yard work he did for us, Lobo came to love Gabe. Gabe proved that where dogs (and plants) are concerned, love produces love. It didn’t take long before Gabe received the same disgustingly overly dramatic reception that Jon got. Whining, howling and barking as if it were Christmas morning every time one of them drove in the driveway made my eyes roll. I was lucky to get a couple of tail wags.

But, he would let me know he loved me by protecting me from anyone suspicious-looking who was working outside. He would be lying down calmly watching until I came outside. Then, the bark alarm would start.

Some people had a tough time winning him over—perhaps because of hidden dog fear that Lobo could read like a billboard. Friend Barb, who came every week to teach us yoga, took a long time turning that rough bark into a tail wag. Our friend and house sitter Cynthia, on the other hand, could produce almost the same greeting as Jon. Perhaps it was the baby talk she did with him, along with the stream of treats, walks and jin shin treatments. Friend Jennifer’s arrival was a close second. Was it their pretty faces? Chemistry?

Lobo lined up his tribe, which included some four-leggeds. Elsie, the pretty dog with the feathery tail next door was clearly his girlfriend. But up at our mountain cabin, he went for the blue-eyed husky, Nana, and then for her daughter, Tyin.

But none had a leg up over Jon. As the years went by, he would barely leave his side. If anyone could get him to do something he didn’t care to do, Jon would be the one. Unfortunately, Jon would let him lick off his plate, would have welcomed him up on the furniture if I hadn’t vetoed it, and would never leave him behind unless absolutely necessary. I was the mom—the one at home the most, the one he knew was there. But Jon was his star. His person. His only alpha.

Like the dog portrayed in the movie A Dog’s Tale (the true story of a dog who waited at the train station for ten years for his master to come home, after he died), Lobo waited every night for Jon’s return. Parked on his outdoor bed next to the driveway, he would refuse to come in for dinner until it was painfully obvious that his master was out of town. Sometimes I’d go out and tell him, “Jon’s coming!” and watch him look up at the gate.

I could have been jealous, but the truth is that since Jon never had children of his own, he may have never had that kind of unconditional, pure adoration. Perhaps one of Lobo’s lessons was that we crave this kind of love, and appreciate the way animals give it over and over, without a second thought.

I’d like the trainer who told me dogs have no emotions to have watched the Christmas morning performance and tell us that Christmas is just another day.


Lobo’s Lesson #3

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

It didn’t take long to discover that the poor excuse for a fence around our yard was not going to keep Lobo at home. We weren’t sure all our neighbors were as enthusiastic about his presence as we were. Judi, who lives next door, gently pointed out that her husband Rick was not a dog lover. Lobo was turning up at the kitchen door, golden eyes hopeful. And, they had a wildlife pond where they liked to watch…wildlife. Which probably wouldn’t come to the pond if it was constantly guarded by a huge, hungry puppy.

We bought an invisible fence. You put up one wire, which is electrified, and train the dog (again, hopefully with just a few shocks) to stay away from the fence. Great theory, and I’ve seen it work.

But, passion can withstand pain, as Lobo taught us quickly. It didn’t take long for him to learn that jumping over the fence wasn’t that hard (it was only four ft. high at the highest) and didn’t hurt all that much, or for very long. The advantages of Judi’s occasional bits of chicken outweighed the disadvantages. Before long, Lobo’s leap looked like a deer’s, and a path was worn to his favorite spot for clearing the fence.

Bit by bit, rumor by rumor, we discovered that Lobo was becoming the “Mayor of Sutherland Valley.” His constituents included the Gibsons uphill from us; Richard and Peggy two doors away, Rick the gardener at the end of our road, and even Bradley and Triests a half-mile away.

This discovery solved the mystery of how our young dog was gaining not only a lot of height, but too much tummy. I sent out an email imploring our friends not to feed him. “But he looks at me with those golden eyes, they would say…”

The Sonoran Desert is a region whose boundaries are free of political borders; part of the ecological territory is in the U.S. and part in Mexico. Animals who want to pass through that heavily walled and guarded border must be confused about the frustrating obstacles they meet. Likewise, the territory that Lobo came to call his own was independent of our annoying fence, or any of our neighbors’ fences. His range was bounded by his own instincts, and that’s the range he would roam until he couldn’t any more. And that was only at the end, where it wasn’t us who stopped him, but only the limits of his body.

Fortunately for us, he converted Rick, along with any other neighbors who had been reluctant. Even though he would bark at Rick when he came out into his back forty to practice shooting a bow and arrow, Rick came to understand that the problem was only that Lobo hadn’t granted him permission to use it in his territory.

As for us, we eventually just gave up. Over the years, when his leaps were compromised, he dented the fence in places to make the breach easier. In the end, I suspect Jon helped him by lowering the bar even further, to keep his pride intact.

We came to understand that as a working dog, Lobo considered this large territory to be his responsibility. He had many sub-tasks under the heading of this formidable career. There were the rabbits and squirrels, which needed to be kept under control. In later years a resident Cooper’s Hawk would roost near the bird feeder, hoping for an easy meal. This Lobo must have considered cheating, because he would bark and chase the hawk away. He had to keep track of the supply of bones he buried under various trees. Evidently he had to check on various neighbors, and so he made his rounds. Then there was the guarding of the property and the waiting for his people when they went out. Fortunately, he was well equipped with the tools for his work orders. He had a good nose, great ears, keen eyesight, speed, paws that could wound with one strike. Of course he also had courage. And there wasn’t a fence on the market that could contain these qualities.


Lesson #2 from Lobo

Monday, June 30th, 2014

lobo w: siLobo at 1 in 2005, with our grandson Simon

Amnesia works in strange ways. In the same way a mother forgets the agony of childbirth and signs up to do the same thing again, dog lovers forget what it’s really like to have a puppy.

“He’s going to be big,” our vet friend Sonny said, looking at the giant paddy paws. “He looks about six months now, so there’s a lot of growing ahead. I think he has some mastiff or hound in him.”

But we do not listen to the voice of a good advisor. Not when we are blinded by passion.

I was still having radiation treatments, so we thought the timing would be good. Lobo (we had immediately re-named him) would be company. As in companionship, encouragement, affection, loyalty.

I took him down with me to feed our two horses. Down the path, across the wash and over to the little barn and corral. His excitement grew. In the wash, I threw him a stick. Not only did he fetch it, he must have pegged me for a worthy playmate. From 100 feet away, he charged at me full speed and then took off a few feet in front of me, flying at my chest with those huge paws extended. I went down like a bowling pin.

“This is not good,” I tearfully explained to Jon. “I can’t have him knocking me down right now.”

“Or any time,” Jon agreed.

We started trying to train him. He was into the treats for sure, but rewards didn’t seem to have any effect on either long-term or short-term behavior. A leash was unthinkable. He lunged ahead, pulling the weak two-legged behind him, flailing about like a fish on a line.

We live in the country, on the border of a state and national park with hundreds of miles of trails. We wanted to be able to walk him off a leash. Without him running out in front of cars, which he must have thought were animals big enough to be worthy playmates. We didn’t want him to keep chasing the cattle who roamed the range we lived in. The littlest ones were about his size. We didn’t want him on our furniture. (Well, I didn’t—that’s another story….) We didn’t want him jumping up to get the food on our plates. (Well, I didn’t. Yet another story.)

After bingeing on episodes of the Dog Whisperer, it was clear to me that Lobo knew he was the alpha. Maybe he was here to give me an assertiveness training course. “I am alpha,” I would explain to him. And he would smile that silly dog smile they do with their long tongue hanging out and that panting that sounds like laughter.

Maybe he was just too much. Too big, too powerful, and already too accustomed to being in charge. Even though I can’t stand Chihuahuas, now I felt sorry for the one he had terrorized. Maybe, I said to Jon (tearfully, again) we would have to give him up.

Instead, we researched dog training techniques and local experts. Jon’s sister swore by a trainer who used an electric collar, which fell under the Torture category as far as I was concerned. But never say you’ll never do something until you’ve been truly desperate. After yet another flying lunge at my radiated chest, Lobo was loaded into the truck and taken to Torture dog training.

It’s painful for me to remember. Really. I mean, when I got teary watching die Fuhrer reduce Lobo from Alpha to Zeta, cringing as he yelled, “Place” and pointing to a tiny pad, the little smart guy explained to me that dogs don’t have emotions. That’s funny, because I could swear that Lobo now was feeling a love for us that was every bit as passionate as the kind of love a child feels when they see that someone else’s parent is worse than their own.

But, mercifully, Torture training did not take long. Just a few zaps were all Lobo needed to be convinced that the Collar was the source of all evil. Now, all we had to do was put it on him, push a button that produced a beep, and yell, “Place,” and point to a dog bed or an imagined tiny pad in front of the TV, and he would cringe and crawl into position. He would also resist chasing cows, which was the ultimate test. He would reluctantly heel, even in the presence of a tempting car. And lie down while we were eating. At least until Jon finished. (another one of those “other stories.”)

And so, he avoided the first and only threat to his new Good Life. Not only did he not have to go back to the Humane Society, he came out as one of the biggest winners in the doggie world. What other dog from the humane society lived on the edge of the wild high desert? Here in his own back yard, there were squirrels and rabbits and roadrunners to chase. Deer even came occasionally to seek water. A javelina or two ventured into the yard before the word got out. Lobo could live up to his name here. He would be allowed, despite the little Fuhrer’s efforts, to be a wolfy, wild dog.

How wild, we had only begun to discover.

Lessons from Lobo #1

Sunday, June 29th, 2014

lobo by Tomar                                                Portrait of the young Lobo by Tomar Levine            (

Lesson #1

Lobo first came to me in a wild and mysterious dream. A dream unlike any I’ve ever had. It was 2004, I believe. The year I had my second bout of breast cancer. So perhaps I thought it was effects from the radiation. Or simple madness.

I saw the face of a German shepherd-like dog, presented up close as if in a picture frame. Which seemed odd (not the picture frame, but the breed.) I had been terrified as a child of the German shepherd down the street, who would throw himself against the chain link that gated his driveway, barking and baring his teeth. He was convincing, and I never would have walked that way again, were it not the only route to Joyce’s house. She was my best friend, and so I was stuck with the terrifying dog, who only lived a couple of houses short of hers.

So the face appears in the dream, but is not scaring me, possibly because of some wonderfully golden eyes that look kind and deep. The face is accompanied by a booming, low male voice. The voice of God, or at least a very good radio announcer. “My name is Lobo, and I will be your dog. And, your teacher.”

That’s it. Over and out. I wake up wondering: Is this a good dream, or not? But as a mystic, I am impressed. It’s memorable, at the very least.

At the time of the dream, we were dogless. We had lost Missy, and were still in mourning. I had almost become convinced that life without dog hair all over everything and everybody could have its advantages. We could observe how much we traveled, and wondered if it wouldn’t be kinder to the canine world to do without.

Then Vicky called. Their bartender at Joe and Vicky’s was at her wits’ end. The dog she had brought home from the humane society was terrorizing her Chihuahua. He had been living at the bar, but got too big for that, so Vicky had him at their house along with their two huge hounds. It was a three-ring circus. Could she bring the dog over so I could at least have a look?

I was reluctant on most counts, especially when she told me the dog was a shepherd mix. But then there was that dream…

It was a bit hard to contain him, even on our front porch. He looked to be a large version of a six-month-old lanky puppy, who came up about knee high. That wasn’t high enough for him, so he kept jumping. My gentle “no” and “down” had no effect at all. But he had kind eyes. Amazing eyes of gold, actually, that look like they go on forever. And he looked right at me for what seemed like a long second, right before jumping on me again.

The name on his tag said “Kenai,” but I knew better. Despite inner warning signals, I told Vicky that even though I had to talk to Jon, I thought we would be taking him.

There was no choice.



5 Things a Dog Can Teach You

Saturday, February 6th, 2010

LoboI just finished reading (or hearing an audiobook) Merle’s Door by Ted Kerasote, and it has me blubbering over the rich, mysterious and growing relationship I have with my dog Lobo.

Like Kerasote’s dog Merle, Lobo has a language all his own. He is bonded first and foremost to my husband Jon, but I’m a close second. I knew he was coming before I saw him, since I had a strange prophetic dream in which I saw his face and heard a voice saying his name was Lobo and that he would be my dog. I was pretty startled and then forgot about the dream until a neighbor brought a rescue dog over to meet us. The name on his tag was Kenai, but I recognized him as Lobo. Since that day, over 5 years ago, Lobo has taught us many things. Here are 5 that I think any of us who have dogs have experienced:

1. Dogs offer us the experience of unconditional love. They give it and they invite us to return it. They often serve as a contrast to the way we usually operate–thus the successful bumper sticker reading, “Let me be the person my dog believes me to be.”

2. Dogs teach us about non-verbal communication. Sure they bark and moan and growl, and Lobo even howls. But we learn more from watching him communicate his reactions just with body language. Ears go back and tail lowers:”Oh, do we have to put that collar on?”

3. Dogs remind us to come to our senses. On a literal level, they remind us to listen, to look and to smell. To relish being petted and stroked and cuddled. And that is often what we need when we’re thinking too much.

4.  Dogs teach us about being in the moment. I do believe Lobo has memory and also can move into the future, as he does when he sees us packing for a trip or loading the truck. But he can move from sad to happy as quickly as one moment morphs into another.

5.  Dogs teach us about forgiveness. We’ve let Lobo down hundreds of times. Every time we leave could be seen as a betrayal. And he doesn’t like scolding. It’s true that he is suspicious of men wearing baseball caps holding objects over their heads. But nothing is personal; he forgives all.

In my strange prophetic dream, the voice said Lobo would be my teacher, and that has surely come true. Right now he is lying on his outdoor bed on the driveway, guarding his estate.  And who knows? Maybe even from a distance, he can feel my gratitude.

What stories do you have about dogs as teachers? Healers?