Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Saying goodbye to my best friend

We gathered Oct. 6 to honor Padme at this trail overlook above Puget Sound.
Named for a Star Wars character with the look of a wolf being, we're sure that part of Padme’s heritage was Australian shepherd, which was her mama's breed. Her papa was much larger than an Aussie, which usually top out at about 40-45 pounds. Kids we met on our daily walks would ask if she was a wolf. “Maybe,” I’d say, then try to get her to howl for effect.
We had regular pack howl-ins until the past year.

Padme is a Sanskrit word that means lotus and is part of a Buddhist mantra – om mani padme hum – meaning the jewel is in the lotus.

The lotus flower is sacred in Buddhism. From Buddhists.com: The lotus flower represents one symbol of fortune in Buddhism. It grows in muddy water, and it is this environment that gives forth the flower’s first and most literal meaning: rising and blooming above the murk to achieve enlightenment. The second meaning, which is related to the first, is purification. It resembles the purifying of the spirit, which is born into murkiness. The third meaning refers to faithfulness. Those who are working to rise above the muddy waters will need to be faithful followers.

My intuitive friends often remarked that Padme was my “familiar,” literally an animal that we have a magical connection with. We certainly had an intuitive connection, which was comforting when it was time to let her go. She told me it was time. She also told me that she would stay here if I really needed her to.  

Saint Helens Cats

Padme was as tall as a retriever and about 70 pounds at her largest. She was 50 pounds at the last. She had an incredible sense of humor, even as we were saying goodbye with our vet (the fabulous Dr. Alena Cowell at Hawks Prairie Veterinary Hospital). Sean was telling Padme that he was sorry he was cross with her when she just wanted to play. She had been lying on the floor, exhausted, but lifted up her head and looked at him quizzically. I laughed and said to her, “Your litter mate just never accepted he was just that - your litter mate.” She looked at me, sighed, and put her head down again.

About Saint Helens Cats: What if the clouded leopards at Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma had magical powers? And what if they escaped to conjure up an eruption at Mount Saint Helens? It could happen (at least according to Padme the Wonderdog).

When I would get engrossed in a writing or design project on the computer in my office, Padme would bring me a ball or another toy over and over. I would unconsciously throw it, and she would bring it back. When it was clear to her that I wasn’t truly engaged in the game, she’d add interesting subplots – drop it in the trashcan, then bark for me to get it. Sometimes she’d drop it in her water bowl, then splash all the water out until she could get it.  

Padme the Wonderdog crossed the rainbow bridge September 6, 2013, at the ripe old age of 14 and a half. We invited friends to gather with us on October 6, to remember her and spread her ashes off the trail by our house above Puget Sound – one of her very favorite walks. Dear human and dog friends shared our sadness at her passing and gratitude to have spent time with this sweet soul. Our friend Mikel was kind enough to pull us together to hear a short eulogy, which he crafted from some favorite poems. 

Then back to our Irish wake, and comfort foods that were Padme’s favorite human foods: mac & cheese, chicken pot pie, shepherd’s pie. We had warm blackberry cobbler with vanilla ice cream, another Padme favorite. She didn’t particularly like sitting for almost an hour while I picked blackberries in the woods near our house. Or the countless visits to see what changes were happening at my favorite eagle's nest. But she did. And got a spoonful of ice cream every night to make her arthritis medicine a little sweeter. 

Bisbee Blue visiting Padme's ofrenda.
My son and I created a Mexican-style ofrenda which is a traditional remembrance of loved ones who have passed on. Ofrenda means offering in Spanish and consists of photographs, small personal items, favorite foods, candles, and flowers. Ofrendas are a custom during Dias de los muertos. Day(s) of the Dead is celebrated in Mexico and throughout Latin America on November 1 and 2, All Saints Day and All Souls Day. Check out the Dia de los Muertos celebration at Tacoma Art Museum

Our new kitten (3 months old) immediately took up residence on the ofrenda table. She couldn’t figure out how to eat the dog biscuits, so I put a few kitty treats in the bowl.
Photographed on a woofie walk.

My sweet Padme was with me when I photographed most of the beautiful flora and fauna I’ve been blessed to experience. Many of those were taken with one hand while she attempted to drag me away – anywhere but staying still. “Hold still! Hold still! HOLD IT!” * click *  

From Mikel’s eulogy: I couldn’t have asked for a better friend, and we’ve shared our journey to the very end.

I miss you so very much, Padme my sweet wonderdog. I’m comforted in the belief that we will meet again when I too cross the rainbow bridge.

Dona nobis pacem.