November 12, 2017; the day life as I knew it broke into a million pieces. The day the ‘furry love of my life’ as I call her – my ‘doggy soul-mate’ and Life Totem, Rayne – passed away. My husband and I were beyond devastated. She was our joy; she was what kept me alive for the past 12 years quite honestly as I have been repeatedly knocked down by my own personal ‘demons’ of chronic illness. She’s what made me want to get back up fall after fall, day after day. Owl may fly next to me but she was my spirit animal in the flesh, always knowing what I needed even when I did not. Just as unexpectedly as she had come into our lives – she was gone; and I was lost.
I stood beside her as she lay on the veterinary table, holding and petting her, kissing her face, telling her how much she was loved and that I would be waiting for her to come back to me as the vet put her to rest. She had suffered terribly in the few weeks prior, and the last 48 hours of her life were beyond heartbreaking. We’d done everything we could to save her after she became ill suddenly at the end of October. Our usual vet had said it looked like she was suffering from pancreatitis with ‘something’ going on with her liver that he had not been able to diagnose 100% yet before we lost her. She had seemed to improve with treatment, but over the weekend when our vet was closed, she took an extreme turn for the worse and ended up going into liver failure.
We stayed up with her all night while she was dying – thrashing around in pain every few minutes or so, throwing herself violently from side to side in the closet where she made her bed. If you’ve never seen an animal die this way – one you love more than life itself, at that – please believe me when I say you don’t want to. Finally, Sunday morning, we resigned ourselves to the fact that we were losing her and drove her to the emergency vet an hour away. I rode in the back seat with her, petting her, giving her reiki, and singing to her in the hopes of soothing her as best I could while my husband drove, both of us in a panic. When we arrived at the vet, they rushed out to carry her in. The moment I had been dreading most for years was upon us and I knew that later, I was going to completely break down, but then, I was in shock; raw yet numb, holding myself together only for her, knowing she needed me to be strong enough to let her go. It was time whether any of us was ready for it or not.
Even in the depths of my despair I knew I would see her again. I was furious with the Universe for doing this to us – I was furious that she had to suffer the way she did, and that we had to witness it. I was furious that my attempts to heal her couldn’t save her; I was furious that I was being ‘forced’ into the growth and ‘shared rebirth’ that this experience would bring. I knew I was learning valuable lessons, but still I was furious. I knew death was inevitable but I didn’t understand why she had to suffer so terribly; later, I would understand, and while I still struggle at times with what happened I know it was her choice to end her life in a way that would serve by saying, “Hey, Mom…look here…there’s something you need to see…” As I think on it, I cry, even though she lies at my feet while I type this. It’s a peculiar feeling indeed to have her here with me, now, and still miss the ‘her’ she was, before.
As my spirit animal, the bond Rayne and I share has always been different than the bond I’ve had with other animals; deeper and more intense. I love all animals – I especially love dogs, dog is my Life Totem if you are familiar with totem animal spirits, black dog specifically – and this was and is Rayne’s role in my life. While I have long believed that animals can reincarnate with purpose just as people do, I had never experienced it personally until she came along. Many dogs I have loved and lost over the years, but Rayne; she’s different. She incarnated to journey alongside me – help me, guide me, love me – teaching me to help myself, guide myself, and love myself. Her love is unconditional and overflowing; her playful nature is contagious and can pull me out of the deepest depression. She was, is, and always will be an absolute joy to share life with. Time stood still in that moment as we waited for her to take her last breath and I was transported back to the day she came home with us – for the first time.
It was about a week before Christmas 2005. My husband and I took a trip to the local family-owned pet store where we regularly bought feeder mice for our snakes. We were both browsing, looking at all the new products, animals and fish as we always did when I heard him exclaim from across the store, “Jen, come here! You HAVE to see this puppy!” I slowly made my way his direction, trying NOT to look because we already had six dogs at home and the last thing we logically needed was another dog let alone a puppy. But – I did mention how much I love dogs, right? – of course I went and looked.
I walked up to see him standing in front of a pen of puppies that were all primarily black with white markings here and there. There were 11 puppies in total and he was holding one of them – the only one that was awake. She was all wiggle and kisses, SO HAPPY to see him as if she had been waiting for us like a dog waiting at the door for her humans to return home from work. Of course this is because she *WAS* waiting for us, only we didn’t know it at the time! He told me that when he’d walked up, she had been the only one that was awake and as soon as she saw him, she ran to the glass toward him, jumped up, and started wagging her tail furiously while barking at him. He ignored her at first but she only got louder and more frantic until he went over and picked her up. As I got closer and she saw me, her face lit up and her excitement intensified like it had when she first saw him. He handed her to me and immediately she started kissing my face, did this for a minute, and then quite deliberately climbed up from where I had been holding her in my arms so she could lay her head on my left shoulder and promptly went to sleep.
It was game over at that point. She had won my heart in less than five minutes. Love at first sight – the love of soul mates is NOT LIMITED to humans, not at all! – and I decided then and there that she was coming home with us. That very day I had received a bonus check from work for $200; the asking price for her was $189.00. We had just enough money to take her home and I wasn’t letting anyone talk me out of it, least of all my ‘logical self!’ Again, I didn’t know it then, but this was Spirit aligning things for me to make it happen because she was absolutely supposed to come home with us to be my spirit animal in the flesh and help me through the intense and painful awakening and transformation period that I was unknowingly about to go through.
So we took her home and of course, when we introduced her to our pre-existing pack of 6 – she made dog #7 – Rayne, at 10 weeks old no less, immediately took over as pack leader, looking over all of the other dogs like a protective and playful mama. She was such a joy – she is still a joy but looking back as I write this – what a precious girl she was! She quickly became my best friend and constant companion; my shadow girl always at my side or my feet, always keeping me focused, reminding me of what mattered the most. I would take her with me everywhere I could and when I was away from her even a short while, I wanted to go home to be with her. Inseparable we were; until that tragic day in November.
“She’s gone,” the vet whispered; and my world came apart. It came apart quietly at first but it came apart nonetheless. I called my mom to tell her the news, then my husband and I sat with Rayne’s body for about an hour saying goodbye before making the long drive home. I couldn’t stop stroking her ears – I was so afraid to let them go, for it to be the last time. I have always had a ‘thing’ for dog ears, and *my* dog’s ears are my equivalent of a little kid’s blankie; the softness of them has always soothed me when I would pet them and hold them gently in my hands and Rayne’s ears had always been the most perfect and soothing of all. I began to realize that I didn’t know how to live without her. She really had kept me together for the previous 12 years she’d walked by my side. Even something so small as petting her ears was hugely significant for me which made the thought of the loss of her even more profound.
I kept doing my best to remind myself that she was coming back. That I wasn’t ‘losing’ her, that she had to leave in order to be reborn into a different body, and that nothing we had done would have worked because her new body had already been chosen and she HAD to go when she did in order for everything to line up just right. You see I KNEW this – I had been given many signs and messages that this was what was happening before, during, and after she died – but that did not matter at the time, all that mattered was that she was GONE and I was ALONE and I didn’t know how I was going to ever be ok without her by my side.
We finally had to leave, giving her one last kiss, one last stroke of her ears, before heading home. The numbness persisted for a while but then – quite expectedly – everything came crashing down around me when I got home and realized how quiet it was without her. Quiet is something I normally cherish and thrive on, but not like this. Grief hit me, hard. As if grief alone is not enough to bring a person to their knees, all of this happened at the tail end of what was, as a whole, the worst year of my life. The chronic illness I deal with daily was greatly exacerbated by all of the above. I was unable to think or function, I couldn’t bear to be at home but there was nowhere I wanted to go, no one I wanted to talk to. All I wanted was her – her warm, reassuring body lying next to mine as she did every day, every night, ever present – and she wasn’t there.
When Rayne died, I died along with her. I was no longer alive; I merely existed in a deep despair. But she wouldn’t let that be – oh no! In typical spirit animal fashion she responded to me falling down by helping me to pick myself back up again, showing me that it didn’t matter whether she had a body or not, she is and always will be with me. She started communicating with me quite loudly and insistently, MAKING me see and hear that she was still with me and that she was DEFINITELY coming back. I will discuss in greater detail the signs and messages she and my Spirit team sent and how they sent them in another blog because it is fascinating to say the least, but it would be ‘too much’ right now!
So even in death, I knew – this was a rebirth. Not only for her, but for me; I knew she was coming back, I knew Divine Timing was at work, and I knew her literal, physical death and rebirth into a new body was symbolic of the ‘old me’ dying just as painful of a death so I could be reborn as well. Then – we would walk side by side once again, doing amazing work together as I had always envisioned but had not yet realized. Dog Medicine meet Owl Medicine.
Remember when I said Rayne was like, “Hey, Mom…look here…” with her death? I came to understand not long after she died that the way she passed was more profoundly meaningful than I’d been aware of up until then. You see, I had been having quite a bit of pain on the right side of my abdomen for months but I had been putting off going to the doctor about it. First, because I had assumed it was nothing more than fibromyalgia related symptoms, and later, because I was afraid it was indeed something serious that would require surgery and I have strong past-life seed fear of being cut into, hospitalized, ‘put under’ and so on. So, I had put it off, but losing her forced me to go into the doctor to get a little extra help with anxiety, and while I was there, I mentioned the pain. The doctor did some tests and several weeks later, the verdict was in – I had non-alcoholic fatty liver disease which can only be managed by making healthy lifestyle changes.
The message was clear; what she was really saying by leaving us in this horrible way was, “Take care of yourself, Mom! Eat good and be active, love yourself so you can love me! I’m going to go out in a really bad way this time but don’t worry, it’s all a part of my soul plan and I’ll be ok, the pain will be temporary for me, but the message will change your life – it will change OUR LIVES! Cause I’m coming back soon and I’m gonna help you get healthy so what happened to me doesn’t happen to you, and then… we’re gonna do such great things, Mom, just you wait and see!” I cried when I understood the depth of her message. It still makes me cry.
So, wait and see I did. I opened myself up to her and while I grieved – truthfully, I still do – I noticed the heaviness of grief began to lessen. I realized quickly that she really WAS still with me, in spirit, because I could feel her energy just as strongly if not more so than I did when she was in her body next to me. It is difficult to put into words what it feels like but it was like – I could feel her there, like when someone walks up behind you and you don’t see them yet but you know they are there, and it was almost more surprising to look and NOT see her than it would have been to see her. I also realized just how much communication between us had been unspoken while she was in her body because we were still communicating that way when she was outside of it. It was amazing to experience, a spot of beauty within the tragedy that was her transition. In the immediate weeks following her death she communicated with me telepathically more strongly than any angel, spirit guide, or person alive or dead ever has up to this point; it is an experience that has left me forever changed.
One of the messages she kept giving me had to do with a number. I knew something significant was going to happen related to the numbers 11 and 12. She passed on 11/12. She was in room 11 at the emergency vet. She died at 12 years old. There were many more occurrences of the numbers popping up than this, these are some of the ones that really stuck out to me. I kept feeling she was trying to tell me an idea of when she would be returning. In early December, I had hoped she meant 12/11 because I was desperate for her to come back; regardless of all of her messages and assurances and the experience of communicating with her in spirit, I wanted her home! But it was not to be; 12/11 came and passed much to my disappointment, but still, I had a knowing that it would be soon. For a few reasons, but one very important one being I had noticed the feeling of her fading dramatically sometime during the first week of December and I had started to panic but then realized – it’s because she’s in her body now, she’s still here but more ‘dim’ than before cause…she’s HERE!
And she was; RaeRae 2.0 was born into her new body on December 4th, 2018, just an hour and a half drive away. Of course, I didn’t know that at the time…yet.
I started asking her to show me, how will I know it’s you? “You’ll know,” she said, and she gave me some specific things to look for. Said she would be more golden retriever than last time, but still not golden, a bit of a private joke between us. She would be mixed with a herding breed like last time as well – and she would still be black with similar white markings. (Her previous body was ½ Australian cattle dog, ¼ golden retriever, and ¼ black lab.) I accepted this and let myself relax about it, knowing she would arrive in Divine Timing and all I could do was continue to wait and see while getting things ready for her to come home.
She gave me PLENTY of signs to keep me inspired and focused in the meantime. Lots of golden retriever signs – my spirit animal may be black but I LOVE golden retrievers and she knows this so she uses it to get my attention! When I write about all the signs I will talk more about this and link to that blog here because there were so many – SO MANY! – it truly was amazing to ‘talk’ with her this way.
I didn’t really look but I did pursue the few ‘false starts’ that came along before she finally made her appearance. In retrospect these ‘false starts’ were not false at all but were actually bread crumbs leading me toward her because the few puppies I was drawn to before her – ones I saw ‘randomly’ on Facebook that were available – there was no way we could have got them, they were too far away, too much, and so on. BUT – they looked JUST like what she looks like, NOW, at a week shy of four months as of when I wrote this – NOT what she looked like when we got her!
I found her on New Years Eve, 2017. I just happened to be online – I don’t currently have internet at home so I am rarely online, only when I can get to the library or snag someone’s wifi – and I was bored, so I typed “Golden retriever” into my Facebook search to look at cute golden puppy photos. Immediately at the top of the page was a post that a lady who lives an hour and a half away from here had put up less than a half hour before saying she had just a few puppies left for sale from a litter of 11. Mom was a golden retriever, dad was an Australian shepherd (a herding breed!) – and some of the puppies turned out black with white! She said she had one girl left and two boys – instantly I thought, could it be her?
I messaged the lady to inquire, not wanting to get my hopes up but I knew…I KNEW! She replied pretty quickly and told me that she had those few puppies left and she was asking $300 for them. I was crushed at first because there was no way I could afford $300 at the time. But – I told her about Rayne passing away and how lost I was, and how my goal was to get ‘a puppy’ and train her to be a therapy dog so she can go out and do healing work with me. I said ‘a puppy’ because I was afraid at the time if I had told her I was waiting for my reincarnated dog to return so we could do these things together it would have been too much depending upon her beliefs and I could not afford the risk of her turning me away.
But that’s not at all what happened, obviously! She replied telling me – here it is, folks! – that she actually also had another female puppy that was born with a bobbed tail that no one had really been interested in, that she was not sure what she was going to do with until I had messaged her. She said she would give her to me for $150 instead of the $300 she was asking for the other puppies. She sent me a few photos and later, some video – and when I was able to sit down and watch, and SEE – it was Rayne, beyond a shadow of a doubt! She was tiny, just a month old at the time. I found out later she had been born on December 4th – right around the time when I had felt her energy around me lessen dramatically! But I could see most of the same markings in white, in the same spots – that was my first ‘physical clue’ that it was her, and it was followed quite rapidly by other less obvious ‘spirit clues’ such as the lady telling me the puppies *HAD* to go to their new homes by 1/12; squeeze 11 and 12 together – the number signs finally coming into play! I found out AFTER I wrote this that Rayne’s dog mom actually gave birth to 12 puppies, too, but one died during delivery – and Rayne was puppy number 11 born out of 12. Simply amazing!
Against all odds and all logic, just like first time, Rayne came home with us once again. It’s been a funny for me since we got her that she was just a little less this time around – $150 instead of $189 – because she’s got less tail than before! I found a ride to get us there and back since our jalopy of a car would not make the trip, got the money together even though my husband was out of work at the time and I was not really working much due to still recovering from having a ‘nervous breakdown’ in 2017. But none of that mattered, she was fated to be ours!
**Faith interjects about my ‘nervous breakdown:’ Spiritual expansion is often messy and miserable and we don’t judge or sugar coat that; there is ALWAYS growth in the struggle! It’s not called a Dark Night of the Soul for nothing! Allow…allow…allow. ♥
When we got to the agreed upon meet-up spot and I held her for the first time it was love at first sight, again. She greeted me excitedly and then, just like before, curled up with her head on my left shoulder and fell asleep. I cried…I had missed her so much, I forgot what it was like to hold her in my arms, she was tiny and different of course but I could tell it was her, she had not been gone long enough for me to ‘forget’ the little things about her and one of the first things I noticed was her smell. She smelled the same, and in that moment I realized; I was the one who was home.
I still had not been given a clear answer on whether she wanted her name to be the same or different, so while we rode home and I watched her sleep, I asked. During the trip our ride had been listening to his personal playlist of music on his phone which was on random play. Moments after I asked about her name, the song Scarborough Fair came on. I began to cry – this was the beginning of a heartfelt message, as that was the first song I had sung to her in the car on the way to the emergency vet just two months prior when she died. I always have said she’s one of my true loves… “She once was a true love of mine…” so Spirit began with that song to get my attention and then proceeded to follow with five or six more songs, all playing at random out of hundreds of songs, with references to ‘rain’ in the lyrics. The ‘rain’ she was named after due to mine and my husband’s love of rain and thunderstorms. The message was clear: Rayne she was and shall be!
The first several weeks were rough. She was a lot smaller this time around when she came to us, not even six weeks old yet where she had been 10 weeks the time before. This period of growth for her was fascinating for me to observe with my understanding of reincarnation and how we come in as a blank state yet we still carry with us soul imprints and memories of people, events, personal behaviors and quirks which influence who we become in the ‘next’ life. This is how it works with people but it is not limited to people – this is EXACTLY what I observed with Rayne as she has grown!
At first it was mostly intuition coupled with external messages that told me it was her. Yes, I KNEW by this point who she was, but being so little, an infant ‘blank slate,’ her personality had yet to really emerge. It was more of a day-to-day adjustment to life with a baby puppy which amounted to tremendous amounts of love, patience, consistency, patience, pee pads – did I say patience??? – while our new furry blessing learned – remembered! – how to be a dog.
And remember she did. It wasn’t until about a month later at 10 weeks of age – go figure! – that her personality started to show. Little miss bossy pants had returned! She is brilliantly smart, learns with ease, talks to us with her eyes and voice, she’s extremely vocal and tells us what she wants and answers when we ask her questions. Some of this is to be ‘expected’ of her breed(s) BUT all dogs are unique and all of these traits and characteristics are ones she had before. One or two could be coincidence, but taken all together – YEP, it’s her! Some more specific examples…
She loves her Sissy! Our 13 year old dog, Tiva, is Rayne’s sissy who she grew up with the first time and loves dearly. Wherever Rayne was, Tee was. Rayne has always waited for Tee to start eating her food before she starts to eat hers. She started doing this several weeks ago out of nowhere and does it every time they eat now – again. Even though I set her food down first because she was and is ‘alpha’ she waits and looks for Tee to start eating first. She cleans Tee’s ears by licking them, too, usually several times a day. She started cleaning our other dogs’ ears when we first brought her home years ago and she continued to do it with Tee her entire life. Every day she would clean Tee’s ears this way; she started doing this again a few weeks ago, too, and has been doing it every day at least once since…again.
Getting the kitty! This is an ‘oops’ trait that carried on because in her last life, we would tell her to ‘get the kitty’ meaning for her to herd the kitty away from whatever it was doing that it was not supposed to be doing. There were specific things the kitty would do that Rayne knew it wasn’t supposed to do, too, and she would intervene without us having to say anything. She never hurt the cat because she was taught earlier in life not to jump on or put her mouth on small animals, only nudge them with her nose. Well, this time…she is ALWAYS getting the cat but due to her being a puppy, she’s way too rough! So we have to correct her on this and teach her to be gentle. Getting the kitty is ok but GETTING the kitty is NOT ok, if you catch my drift!
Let’s go bye bye! Most puppies are initially unsure or even sick when they go on car rides and need an adjustment period. Rayne used to go with us ALL THE TIME before. Right from the start this time, her first car ride was 2 hours long and she was comfortable the whole time, not at all bothered by being in a car and laid down to sleep which is what she almost always did after riding for a while before. She does exactly the same thing now. We go bye bye, she goes everywhere with me because I’m taking crate training slowly along with socializing her, and she watches out the window for a while like it’s all stuff she’s seen before, really only phased by loud noises, and then lays down to sleep. No hesitation or car sickness whatsoever.
Foot in the water dish! She has always put her foot in the water dish, and while I know a lot of other dogs do this, too…she has ALWAYS done this and she was doing it from day one.
Flopping around – she is SO floppy, when she is sleeping she will get up and almost sleepwalk across the bed or room and throw herself down on the other side. I recognized this behavior pretty quickly as a seed fear remnant; when she was dying, she kept doing this very same thing, as she was laying down she would suddenly get up and start violently thrashing around until she got to the other side of the closet or couch and then she would lay still for a while before doing it again. She did this a lot when she first came home, the first week or so when the impulse to thrash would be the strongest I imagine. It has gradually progressed into a less violent, more eccentric sleepwalking like behavior where she gets up and quickly moves to another spot but at first it was scary, she would wake up in bed and thrash around and try to walk, and fell off the bed a few times because of it. Had to move the bed against the wall to keep her from falling off, until…
Her closet! Rayne would often sleep on the closet floor in our bedroom because she loved what we called her ‘cave’ which is really any area she can get in or under like a dog crate. That’s where it came from, her crate was / is her ‘cave’ and she loved it so much we were able to help her associate ‘cave’ with any area she could get under like the blanket, my desk, my altar table, in the closet, and so on. The closet was also where she spent her last night alive, when she suffered terribly before we got her to the vet. The first several weeks after she came back home she would NOT go in the closet under any circumstances! She would stand at the doorway and sniff but refused to go in. Tee would lay in there but even with Tee in there – she wouldn’t go. That was extremely significant to me. I don’t know what changed it, perhaps dogs release things more easily than people do, but after a few weeks passed there came a day when she walked up to the closet and sniffed it like she had many times before, but this time she went inside, sniffed all around the whole closet, and then laid down in the back against the wall. She’s slept in there ever since – if she’s not on the bed with us, she’s in her closet cave just like before!
My ‘writing time’ is coming to an end for the day so it’s time to wrap things up. I woke up this beautiful Ostara morning to find myself filled with ideas, inspirations, and the drive to create them into reality. Ostara, a time of Renewal, Regeneration, and Resurrection! Of course it would be today that I am driven to begin creating the new by sharing our story. I had ‘planned’ to write about this but been stuck in a state of writers block until today, when out of nowhere, I was told, “Do this, this, this, and this…but start with THIS…start writing!” So I did, it all poured out of me effortlessly after months of nothing, and now…it has begun!
*I was inspired to write this in March of 2018 but was not ready to share it until about a month later if you are wondering why I say Ostara when it’s clearly not! 😉
I can’t wait to share our healing adventure; to share it with her, and to share it with the world! I’ve been working with her these past few months on basic training – you know, potty training, sit, down, look here, come when called, off, leave it, (LEAVE THE KITTY!), drop it, and so on. The basic stuff she has to have down before we get to the Canine Good Citizen stuff she has to know and do to be approved for therapy dog work. You’ll be seeing a lot more of us, too! I’m revamping everything I do, I will still be offering readings, intuitive counseling, and healing sessions for people but this year I’m making the move to focus on Raeki Paws Pet Services, starting with hands-on and remote reiki healing for pets, pet photography, and animal assisted therapy. I’ve got books and music in the works, too; but I’ll keep the more long-term plans to myself for now!
If you would like stay up-to-date on our journey, please follow Rayne and me here on our blog as well as on our Facebook and Instagram pages! I’ll be posting more blogs like this one, sharing our story as we go along, with photos and videos of Rayne training, adventuring, interacting, and touching the world around her. Support means everything; following our pages, liking and sharing our posts, this is how we reach folks who need us! You should see her now, already, the way people respond to her, the way she is with them. Her face lights up, her butt starts to wag at warp speed, their faces light up; it’s beautiful, she truly is here to love and heal with her presence and I am so blessed to be her person yet again.
If you would like to support in a more tangible way I am available for intuitive counseling and healing sessions by appointment for you or your pets. In-person and distance sessions are available. You can see more about what I do HERE and HERE. I am also accepting of Love Offerings as well as Trades! There are a lot of vet visits and training needed as well as continued schooling for me if we are to meet our goals, and that’s on top of our usual bills and daily needs. As of the posting of this blog I also am in desperate need of a new laptop so I can keep working and begin online classes this year to become certified in animal assisted therapy. I have created a fundraiser on my Facebook page for this that you can see HERE; I would be most grateful to anyone who is drawn to help. We’re responding to the call of Spirit to create something magical and I wholeheartedly expect miracles along the way!
There will be more from us, soon. Until then; so much love to all of you and lots of puppy kisses, too! xoxo
Jennith & Sweet Baby Rae
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