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An Inspiring True Dog Story – Hans Was Here
Do you think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you, they will be there long before any of you.
Robert Louis Stevenson
In March 1992, close family members in California gave my sister and brother-in-law, Christine and Dick, a miniature schnauzer puppy. Dick and Christine named him Hans, and we all fell head-over-heels in love with the cute little guy.
In January 2005, I spent some time after Christmas with Christine and Dick at their home in Webster, New York. Hans was now old, but still not terribly old for a miniature schnauzer.
He had some minor physical problems. Or at least we thought they were minor. So Christine made an appointment with Hans’ vet for minor surgery. On a cold gray January morning, he and I took him to his appointment. He was always nervous when he knew he was going to the vet’s office. As soon as we entered the office, he made a beeline for the door. “Let me out of here!” that’s what I’m sure was going through his little mind.
Ever since he was a puppy thirteen years earlier, Hans never liked to be held. He was loved and tender, but he was definitely not a “portable dog.” He was so scared that morning at the vet’s office, I just instinctively picked him up while Christine was filling out the paperwork. He snuggled close to me, digging into my big winter coat. In all his life, he never let me hold him.
It was the first and last time it ever happened.
Later that day, while Christine, Dick, and I were eating lunch, the phone rang. Christine answered the call, and then started crying. It was the vet. Dick and I knew without knowing – Hans was gone. The operation was normally minor, but Hans’ heart stopped in the middle of it. And they could not revive him.
Later that afternoon, the three of us went to the vet’s office to pay our last respects to this beloved little creature who had become as precious to us as our children.
The ladies had Hans laid out on a table in one of the back rooms. It looked so peaceful and beautiful. Christine, Dick, and I said our parting goodbyes to Hans.
When I arrived, I bent over his body, put my hand on his head, and kissed him. “Goodbye, Hans,” was all I could say. Then, tears running down my face, I looked at him one last time, and walked out.
The journey home was silent. The day was cold and gray, and matched our mood.
That night at dinner, we toasted our dear Hans.
On the following October 15, Dick died. He had been ill for several years with a lung disease, and his death was not unexpected. So I made the long sad trip back to New York from my home in Wyoming. I spent almost three months there with Christine and the rest of our family, doing what I could to help her through her difficult transition.
Two days before I returned home to Wyoming, I woke up at 4:30 on the morning of January 10th. As I lay there, deciding whether to get up or go back to sleep, I heard a car door slam at a nearby neighbor’s house. Then I heard loud, familiar Hans barking in the living room directly below my bedroom.
Oh well, I thought, he’s just barking because he also heard the car door slam.
Then I did a mental double-take. It was almost exactly one year ago, January 17, 2005, that Hans died! The memory of that day is forever etched on my memory.
But I knew his bark, and I felt his energy in the house. What was happening here?
The next morning, I said to Christine, “Something strange happened last night. Hans was here.”
I spent some time thinking about everything that happened. I believe our animal family lives beyond the veil of death, just as we humans do. And I believe that those who love us, people or animals, never leave us. Often they have a desire, from beyond the grave, to help us and let us know that they are still alive, they still love us.
A week or so after Hans died, I received a message I can only describe as coming from the spirit world. Here it is:
If there’s one great lesson your pet has to teach you, it’s this: Live in the moment! And this: Love unconditionally.
Your pets find joy, passion, and fun in every moment of their physical lives. Even when they appear you are suffering from some physical illness or injury.
Pets — and all animals, in fact — have no fear of disease or death. And, most importantly, they have no fear of life. Hence they immerse themselves in all the pleasures of physical existence. And they do it without hesitation and without guilt.
They are fully alive in every moment. Not a bad role model for you to follow!
Animals do not live with the same “agenda” that humans do. They have no desire to control or manipulate their fellow creatures, human or animal. Their intention is simply to live freely and happily. They see little difference between life and death.
No matter how terrifying (or peaceful) the transitions from life to death seem to you, these transitions are still easy and effortless for them.
And when they get to “the other side,” they continue to live happily, exuberantly, and happily, breaking and playing with abandon.
They often return to visit you. Just like your loved ones. But most of us are not open, at least not completely open, to what is happening to you. When you don’t believe, you can’t see. You often say, “When I see it, I’ll believe it.” But it’s always the other way around – when you believe it, you’ll see it.
You never lose your loved ones. If you remain open to them, “alive” or “dead”, you will always be comforted by them. You will feel their presence, their energy.
And you will know you are loved.
Hans was really here. I’m supposed to visit from heaven.
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