What My Dog Taught Me About Love

By Jennifer Elizabeth Masters

Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.   Roger Caras

Karma 2008, Crescent Beach, Florida

As humans,  we change and grow each day. We are affected by our friends, or our family of origin, spouses and pets.  I recognize my frailty, faults and flaws lovingly accepting them. I didn’t always. In the fourteen years that I have had my dog, Karma, I have changed tremendously. She has been the constant rock in my life, always there, loving me no matter what I was going through at the time. She has seen me through the writing of two books, 505 blog articles, a cross-country move, two divorces, the deaths of my ex-husband, John Armbruster, (Twin Flame Part II) Diana Davis, and JoAnne Butler. She was and still is strong, steadfast and loving every day. 

Karma on Flagstaff Mtn, Boulder, Co 2012

Our pets are constant. They greet us at our door with undying affection and loyalty. They strengthen our joy, comfort us in our sadness. As Karma ages, coming to the final chapter of her life, I

wanted to honor her before the end came, so that I could truly acknowledge her with my heart, feeling joy, rather than sorrow.

Our lives are often more about the destructs or breaking apart as we learn so much during these challenges. In 2003, my world was falling apart in all ways. My husband was building houses in Alpharetta, Georgia at the time. He insisted on selling my home that was modest and nearly paid off and building a much larger home. Our marriage had been strained but was pushed to the limit when

the economy crashed and four of his houses went back to the bank. 

We were in the middle of foreclosure, on our personal house when two of our three dogs were hit by one car while we were at church. They had been outside when we left, and my husband didn’t want to be late for church and refused to wait for them to come home. That day, I distinctly remember my daughter, Ariel not wanting to go to church. She had a bad feeling. 

I was more devastated about losing my dogs than I was about my marriage ending. Dogs don’t hit, rape or abuse you. We went through challenging times financially, and emotionally. (The whole story is in my book, Odyssey Victim to Victory.) 

We moved from our 5,000 square foot home into a ratty old house in Cherokee county, that gave my daughter nightmares. Her room backed onto the pool with a door that opened onto the deck. Sounds idyllic? The house was haunted and my daughter couldn’t sleep in her own room she was so frightened that something was going to come through that door and drag her out into the pool.

The property was a huge downgrade from the 5,000 square foot home with three-car garage with gorgeous lake views behind us. There were losses on many levels. While living there, I had a vision. I was laying on a healing table in my acupuncturist’s office crying about my dogs, Lucy and Jake, when I had a vision of a black dog. This dog was coming to me. I knew it was a border collie. You can never replace a friend or loved one when they die, but the thought of a new four-legged best friend gave me hope. I called my vet and told her I was looking for a border collie. 

She spent over thirty minutes trying to dissuade me from getting a border collie. “Border collies need a job, or they will make one,” she said. After telling me that she thought a Border Collie was a bad idea, she said, “We never get Border Collies as rescues anyway. Within two hours, she called me back. “You are never going to believe this! A client called after rescuing a Border Collie off the top of Etowah Mountain, that had been chained to a tree, they can’t keep her, they are looking to adopt her out.” I was grateful and smiled to myself. My guidance is never wrong. When I get a vision, it always panned out. 

We drove to the farm to meet this dog. I had hoped for a puppy. She looked fully grown to me, even though they assured me she was still a pup. When they told me her name was Karma, I knew this was my dog. Her age was not important. She had been shown to me in my vision. I gave her a job;  to protect my daughter. She also protected me. 

Karma and I have hiked hundreds of miles in over nine states. She has been with me celebrating birthdays, holidays and family vacations. She loves her family. Her delight shows on her facewhen she sees Adam, David and Ariel after months. She would rather be in the car for hours than to be left at home without me. 

Malibu, Ca 2014

She remembers people she hasn’t seen in over five years, smiling at me to let me know, she does. She taught me sign language. Ro ro Roing, her form of talking to me, when the clock turned three, time for dinner. If I spend too much time on my computer writing, she talks to me, telling me, “Let’s go outside for our walk!” 

She has kept me on a schedule when I had none. Every book and blog I have ever written she has been with me, laying behind me while I write. When I stay up too late, she grunts and goes to bed without me. Karma is more dilgent about her sleep cycle than I am. 

When I cried, she was there. Although she could not hold me, she recognized my sadness, and tears. She let me hold her when there was no one else to hug. She noticed when I cried. I am not sure it is the sound as much as the energy of crying that concerned her. I don’t ever remember crying when Karma didn’t rush over to me to see if I was all right. Crying is something that used to be difficult for me to do. Over time, as my heart began to open and I released emotions, rather than holding on, crying became easier for me. I often became teary at events where my children performed or played, but crying to let go was another story. I used to be so shut down that I couldn’t’ cry.

I am happy with myself and my life. I didn’t get to this place alone. Karma has been with me faithfully walking beside me. She has never lied, cheated, or deserted me. She has been steadfast loyal, loving me no matter how I look, feel or smell. There has never been any judgment, anger or misunderstandings between us. She has no expectations. She has taught me what love is. 

No matter what time I go to bed, Karma wakes me up at 5:30 in the morning. Even if I wanted to sleep in, I am not able to. Karma keeps me on schedule. I have seen more sunsets and sunrises with this amazing dog as a result than I have with anyone else. We both enjoy the outdoors and share our love of nature, water, trees and beauty together. 

Much of my life, I have lived the life of a gypsy. We have moved while I yearned for adventure, feeling that my heart belonged in another place. Wherever I chose to go, Karma was there by my side. She accompanied me when I did landscaping in Atlanta, Georgia. She preferred my company than to be at home alone. The feelings are mutual.

Crescent Beach, FL 2009

She has moved nine times from Georgia to Boulder, Colorado to the desert of California. She has traveled more miles than many humans. From Toronto, Georgia, to the beaches of Florida (8 times) to California she has been in both the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean countless times. Like me, she loves the water. If there is water, no matter how cold, she gets in it. She never complains. She talks to me and knows more English words than I can speak in dog. She lets me know when she is hungry, wants a walk and when she is happy. Her biggest fear is that I will leave her. She has communicated without words. 

I love my dog. She has taught me so much about love. When God put Yoda in my path, I thought she would never accept him. Yet, I see her smiling at little Yoda on the beach. Even with her hips hurting with arthritis, she protects him from bigger dogs with a vengeance. She has surprised me in recent months with the depth of her love. 

Karma has good boundaries. She doesn’t want to share her bed with the kittens that I found in the desert. They irritate her. She barks and growls when they try to ingratiate themselves with her. She won’t have it. They are interlopers in her book. 

This amazing animal is love to me. She is aware. If I let her outside and change my clothes, she does a double-take as she walks through the door. She looks up at my face letting me know, she noticed. She is loving, accepting, kind, compassionate, loyal, respectful, protective and nurturing. She loves me no matter what. In the entire time we have been together, there was only one time she growled at me. As I lifted her into the backseat of my car when she was too sore to jump, she yelped, then growled. Only because I hurt her did she respond in that way.

2014, Coronado California

If there is one being who has taught me the most about love, it is Karma. As she nears that time, I focus on the present. I focus on giving her more joyful experiences to take with her on her journey to the other side. I am as protective of her as she is of me, isn’t that the way love is supposed to be?

It is my hope that sharing some of the personal challenges that I have overcome will give someone a glimmer of hope and a brighter future ahead. I have had my share of personal loss, challenges and tragedy. Each event we experience helps us learn and grow. Our patterns from childhood surface when we are in relationships with others. They come up for a reason, to make us aware that we have these issues, but also to heal and let them go. Recognizing our issues helps us be better people, expanding and stretching us further than we ever thought possible. When we are able to let go of the past, a brighter future emerges. We become lighter, more loving and joy filled.

Jennifer Elizabeth Masters is an author, love and passion coach and animal lover. Animals have been in her life since she was a child. She has never had a day without a pet. To schedule a session e-mail her here. 

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