Saturday, September 4, 2010


A year ago our dog started showing sign of old age. Her muzzle turned white and she started to get tired after a bit of running. When you spend fourteen years with someone you start knowing how they feel and what they are thinking. Suddenly Luck wasn’t as active and could sleep the afternoon away. At that time I decided to make a deal with her. I whispered in her ear one night as we both headed for bed that “I needed a year to get ready. I couldn’t let her go any sooner.” Of course she licked my face and I assumed that she agreed.

Last week when my husband and I went to Quebec city for our 22nd wedding anniversary, Luck went into convulsions. The veterinarian suspected a brain tumour with heart issues. Later with blood results there was talk of liver disease. After the ordeal Luck struggled to walk. After a week she stopped eating and lost her autonomy. She hide in dark corners in the house and panted uncontrollably night and day. We had to made the decision to maybe send her to Glooscap.

When I was little (6 to 12 years old) I often attracted stray animals. I don’t know why but dogs especially who were lost from home often followed me back to my parent’s house. My dad would call the SPCA and they would come and pick them up. Often they were old animals that people abandoned. I always wondered why anyone would think of rejecting a pet just because of illness or old age? It didn’t make much sense to me. At the same time, I often pondered on why these dogs would choose me as a guide. What did they see in me?

After having children and moving to our home in the country stray cats and stray dogs started showing up at our door again. We adopted a few and we were lucky enough to know people who were ready to open their homes to these animals. Some didn’t live very long but at least they had people who cared before they took their last breath. I believe that nobody should die alone.

Often when I was younger, when an animal was about to pass, I would dream about this Giant Warrior at least 25 feet tall covered with feathers and holding a spear. His hands were so big that he could hold a medium size dog in the palm of one hand as if it was a small nest. He had long black hair, piercing eyes and looked very much like some of our First Nation ancestors. He wouldn’t talk French or English but it didn’t matter because I always understood that he was there to help. At first the animals would lay still in his hand. He would blow on the animals softly and soon they would start moving and they would become lively. The dream would always end with a path and the sight of the Giant calling out to the animals and bringing them home.

I had a pretty vivid imagination when I was younger, at least that’s what we called it…. I always believed that this Giant was the keeper of the animals even though for a long time I also believed he was a figment of my imagination. In my late 20’s, I randomly shared my story with a Mi’kmaq elder just before a conference and walking out on stage. Astonished, RP told me the legend of Glooscap. She couldn't believe I had dreamt of the Giant without even knowing anything about him. I remember being happy to hear that the Giant of my dreams existed – at least that’s how it felt for me: He was now real!

Two weeks ago, Glooscap visited. He looked a bit more serious than usual as if he was announcing some bad news. I knew that he was coming for Luck. She was having trouble breathing and was always by my side as if she was scared to be left alone or to be taken away from me. I remember waking up that morning and whispering to Luck that “it was ok. She could go now. I wouldn’t be upset because of a breach of contract, after all we were 2 months away from a year.” She looked up and licked my face as if she agreed with me.

On Friday, Luck left with Glooscap. The veterinarian was somewhat caught aback when we asked her to cremate Luck along with a medicine bundle filled with tobacco, a branch from our raspberry bush (Luck loved raspberries), a monarch who died last year (hit by a car), her baby teeth and some of ours. I don't think the clinic is used to families who do rituals and believe that humans and animals end up journeying the same paths in life and death.

In the end, it’s nice to know that in life and in death we’ll stay a family and that maybe one day – we’ll get greeted by Glooscap on the other side.



louise said...

I always read your posting but this one touched me very much.



Ally said...

Lisa, I do understand about contracts and agreements with our animal friends. Several years ago we had a cat named Rainbow. She was a rescue (as most of our animals have been), and she sort of became our son's surrogate Mom. We nicknamed her Calico Mom and sang songs to her.."Calico Mom won't you come out tonight...and dance by the light of the moon...) Around Christmas time one year, as we were hustling around getting things ready, we noticed that 'Bo wasn't eating. We took her to the Vet. The Vet was angry with us because he couldn't understand how attentive pet owners could let an animal suffer. We really hadn't seen the problem until it was too late, and we felt horrible. I went to visit 'Bo at the Vet...she was eating better and looked livlier...but when she looked into my eyes, I just felt her say that she wanted to go. She was tired and she wanted to go. The Vet left me alone with 'Bo and the assistant, and I got down on my knees, looked her in the eyes, and with my hands on her body told her it was okay. If she wanted to go, she could go; that we loved her alot, and that we would take care of "the boy" for her. The next morning, the Vet called to say she had passed. Others of our cats have died at home, two of them in my husband's arms. Each time there has been a death, our first cat, "Zonker" would appear to my husband in a Dream, and would walk away with the sick cat. All of the cats, some creamated remains, and one "intact" are buried near a small lake on my brother-in-law's property. It's a beautiful place.

Lulu said...

Your words touch me. I am reminded od Lucky, my dog who aged 17 passed over . He had three heart attacks at once. He was a bit of a heinz could see a mix of alsatian and labrador present.
I am really pleased to hear about Glooscap. I have always known my Lucky was around from time to time and felt his presence within one of our newest members of the family Ned, a little Jack Russell. He is our loveable rogue as was Lucky. So many similarities although breeds apart.
Thank you for the dream of Glooscap.
Much Love to you all
Thank You

Wapeyit Malsom said...

Animals bring us so much love.
They teach us about generosity and unconditional trust.
They are great guides and teachers.


Wheelkeeper said...

Thank you Lisa for sharing your experience with us. It makes me feel closer to it and you.

I love the ritual you did with the cremation.

Emily said...

Hi :)

A few days ago Boot'n mentioned Glooscap to me in an email. She said 'everyone goes to Glooscap in the end'. Because at the time I was talking about S and her dying. (even though she is still going through the process).
I was wondering to myself, where is this Glooscap place? lol
I had no idea what she was talking about, but I said I would wait, maybe it would make sense later.
Now it does.
Thanks for sharing this Lisa.
I have never met Lucky but I feel as If she has touched me in some ways through your words.


Michelle said...

I had a hard time reading that Luck passed, I think because I have a hard time with death. She was such a gentle sweet dog when we visited she seemed to talk to you with her eyes. I am happy to know that Gloosecap is there to bring them home. Death can be beautiful its that transistion to something new that I am learning to appreciate and see wonder in. I think of all the animals my kids seem to bring home to us and how they have taught me patience lol I think my Daughter Harmony would open an SPCA in your yard if she was allowed. Its hard on the kids when we lose a pet but the story of Glooscap has helped them feel better thank you.

Wapeyit Malsom said...


It's interesting that you speak about "having a difficult time with death" considering that you and your husband are hunters....

Do you make a difference between the death of a pet and the death of a buck?

Thank you to everyone for your stories and your feedback. I love reading how "my" blog entries bring up memories, emotions and insights in your World.


Michelle said...

I think you ask a great question I sat with this and I think it comes down to knowing that the animal we hunt feeds our family. I have trouble I think when I have an emotional connection to someone or a pet but I am learning also now to hold that moment sacred when the animal gives its life. I have never shot an animal but I admit I am happy when C brings a moose or deer home so we can cut and wrap the meat for our freezer knowing my family can be fed. I do think hunting for me now if I were to shoot an animal would affect me I know I have a feeling of sadness for the animal but I thank creator for the gift of his life. I also am learning that death is not the end which is comforting but there still is saddness for me that feeling I guess is what I have discomfort and find hard to deal with.

WampumBlueRaven said...

I was sorry to hear about Luck, I only met Lucky once and always remembered her- she came up to me wagging her tail- she looked like such a happy and content dog surrounded by human.

The same week Luck past, me and my supervisor, who has a dog named Toby-were speaking about how dogs are a apart of the family; that they have their own personality and being- and that if the would go it would be like parting with a “human” family member- although our society does not view it as such- there is no leave time permitted for that.
It’s to bad they, our general Western world (including insurance companies), do not know of Glooscap. I think it would be easier for human being to grieve for the animals understanding that they too are apart the same circle of life, that they too can have someone waiting for them on the other side.