There’s a reason Dog is God spelled backwards.

It’s been three weeks since Mojo died. In that time, we’ve grieved heartily and started on the path to loving our new puppy. We laugh, we cry, we cuddle Joey, we miss Mojo.

Through all of this, I can’t seem to stop thinking about what this experience is teaching me on a spiritual level.

Ohhhh religion, run for the hills!!!

I’m not going to talk about religion, people. I was raised in religion, steeped in it like a teen-aged-size tea bag. My mom was a pastor for a large portion of my life – so I get religion. I think I can say I’m beyond religion. And I’m not trying to upset any readers that might love their religion. To each his own, I say.

No, I’m talking about what I BELIEVE. Spiritually, ‘n stuff. I’ve always believed in God. Although this year has made me rework how God operates. When I was growing up, I thought that God was this single entity with a big director’s microphone, calling the shots. The longer I live and the more I see of tragedy and loss, I definitely don’t believe there is a deity up there directing anything.

Let’s face it. The concept of God is a human construct. And us humans, we are flawed, flawed, flawed. So I don’t think there is anything at all wrong with figuring out your own spiritual beliefs.

It’s not like you have to pick from one of the 52 flavors of religion and then live with it. You can MAKE. YOUR. OWN. Wow. Look at Scientology… Just sayin’.

After the events of this year, I truly believe in randomness as a universal principle. Bad shit happens. And sometimes more than once to the same person. There’s no reason behind it other than pure randomness. God is not directing this shit.

As far as God is concerned, I am starting to think that the only part of God we can understand is love. In our spirits’ pure form, we are all love. Love connects us in the form of compassion and caring. It connects us to our friends, our families, the earth, to animals, to everything. Love lives in us and lives on after we die.

Toward this idea, I believe that dogs are the embodiment of love. They are God manifest in animal helper form. (That’s not to say that I don’t acknowledge that there are some broken dogs out there who would chew off your face in trade for a lamb chop. But most of those dogs were broken by people.)

The experiences that people have with how their dogs love them is mind-boggling. You see it everywhere: from the dog who cried and cried upon his owner’s return from a tour of duty, to the posts of people who have lost their dogs and are as heartbroken as I was. Stories of dogs saving human lives, dogs savings other dogs, dogs nursing kittens and squirrels.

Let’s face it: Dogs are freakin’ amazing, people! (I had no idea, because I used to be a cat person.)

I’m thinking there’s a reason that Dog is God spelled backwards. I think that’s supposed to be a clue for us dumb humans.

Dogs are love, God is love, and when a dog passes away, they return to the love pool that is God. When you remember your sweet dogs that have passed away, I’m sure you can still feel the love. I know I can.

Before I came to this realization, my kids told me that they were praying to Mojo. Not praying FOR Mojo, but TO him. I wasn’t sure what to do with this except accept it. Maybe they know what they are talking about.

Now I find myself praying to Mojo too, every once in a while.

Dear Mojo, I miss you and love you. I feel you with me all the time. …. Amen.

Choosing life: a new puppy to honor our late dog Mojo

The death of Mojo has been very hard. But in the midst of all the sadness I am incredibly grateful for the lessons and graces that have popped up all over the place.

First, my relationship with my boyfriend has had some definite ups and some serious downs. I’ve never really been sure that he could be there for me when the going got tough. The death of Mojo rocked both of us to the core. Seeing Mike crying his heart out, while holding me, and then following it up with honest and loving conversations has brought our relationship to a new level of lovingness. I know now without a doubt when the going gets tough Mike will be 150% by my side, saying and doing the right things. He is an honorable, gentle, loving man. I feel like love is Mojo’s legacy.

Toward that end, we decided to honor the love and sweet energy Mojo brought us by getting another puppy. After searching the entire state of California for a mixed pug puppy, we finally found one in Bakersfield through Central Coast Pug Rescue.  It’s pretty hard to find true puppies these days unless you go to a breeder and we did not want to support that process. We were so very lucky that a rescue organization had puppies and had them in a mix, not the pure breed. It was meant to be.

Bakersfield is about a four hour drive from San Jose, but we gassed up the car, stopped briefly only at the rest stops and made it there in record time. There was a PetSmart and a Subway near where we were meeting the rescue lady Marsha so we were able to stock up on supplies for humans and puppy alike.

The puppy was so tiny! He could fit in the palm of my hand.

Joey is super tiny as you can see

The puppy is super small as you can see

Naming him has been tough. We have very strict criteria:

  • The name has to be able to end in a Y sound: such as Binky or Timmy
  • The name must have a one syllable version: such as Boo for Boomer
  • The name must have a variable that can be repeated: such as CeCe for Celeste

Most names can’t stand up to such stringent rules. I think we’ve settle on the name Joey (Joe, JoJo, Little Jo) even though I dated a guy named Joey once and I think that unsettles Mike a little. 😉  The name Joey feels right though. After all, it is the second half of Mojo’s name but a totally different name at the same time.

Joey already loves his daddy.

Joey already loves his daddy.

I surprised my kids by putting Joey into my purse when I picked them up from school. I didn’t say anything about the puppy head that kept popping out of my bag. It took quite a while for them to notice what was happening and then pure puppy joy erupted. I thought my daughter Lucy was going to pee her pants for sure.

Driving home from Bakersfield.

Driving home from Bakersfield.

Joey is a super sweet little guy. And he is doing what we had hoped: bringing joy to our souls.

Grieving Mojo

I am heartbroken. Earlier this week, my favorite dog Mojo was run over by a car and killed.

Me and Mo

Me and Mo when he was a puppy

I loved (no LOVE) this dog like nobody’s business, he was my fur baby… always at my side… my guardian, my guide to the bathroom, my lap warmer, my bed snuggler, my main fur man. He loved me so much that I even had a special voice for imitating him as if he could talk and tell me how much he adored me, “You are my master and I will love you and follow you where ever you go.” Sounds just like Dug from Up, and is much better in person, I promise.

Anyway, I hope you understand that this dog was special. In truth, he was everyone’s favorite. He didn’t bark, he was plain adorable, had the best smile and personality. He was truly one of a kind.

Picture 873

Mojo looked just like Scrappy Doo, I swear.

He’s gone now, due to a really stupid mistake and I am doing the best to forgive myself and others who played a part in his passing. Mostly, I am just trying to keep breathing because there are times when it hurts so much my chest feels like caving in. It hurts so much that I don’t want to think or be, I just want to disappear. That’s just the grief talking, so don’t get too worried about that statement folks.

Here’s what I’ve learned about grieving in this short time (I’m only on day three so be patient):

  • Uncontrollable sadness comes in waves, so stick close to home the first few days/weeks.
  • Wear the same clothes day after day if you want to. No one who loves you really cares how you smell.
  • Accept that grief feels a lot like the stomach flu topped with a ton of sadness and crying.
  • It’s okay not to eat, or to only eat the things that you can choke down, even if those things are ice cream and half and half.
  • Be mad, really mad, if the situation requires it. The anger is a feeling and it won’t last forever.
  • Protect yourself. If the situation involved boundaries being broken, you might need to establish some protection for yourself and your family, mentally or physically.
  • Cry and cry as much as you need to. And talk to people while crying. I’ve made several phone calls this week where all I did was gulp and sob to the people on the other end. It’s okay, the vet/your parents/best friends/boyfriend/brother understands.
  • When you are feeling up to it, eat on your very best gold-rimmed china to remind yourself that life is for living.
  • Shower attention/much snuggling on the other living things in your household out of desperation. They might even like it.
  • Stick together. If you have other people feeling the same grief, spend time comforting each other. It will bring you closer together and help the healing.
  • Sleep with a stuffed animal and possibly carry one in your car for protection. I recommend: Boo the dog.
  • Feel scared because life suddenly feels very dangerous/tenuous. You’ll feel safer in a week/month/year.
  • Try not to focus on the death event itself. Understand what happened, yes, but replaying it over and over in your mind might not be super helpful (more gut-wrenching, likely).
  • Remember the good times with your love. Create a way to remember them that makes you feel better.
  • Stay in the here and now. Time cannot be rewound. Events cannot be undone.
  • Focus on your healing. No one else can determine how bad you feel. Stand up for what you need to take care of yourself.
  • Find people to talk to. This might be tough if you hate crying in front of people. Get over it, you will feel so much better talking to someone who understands what you are going through.
  • Let people help you, let them in. I tend to want to shut people out and deal with my pain privately. But there will be people who want to help and understand what you are going through, open the door and let them in. Plus, they may be bringing chocolate or ice cream (see fourth bullet).

In the end, the only thing that really seems to help is time. Try to remember that each day you wake up is another day closer to feeling like life is worth living again. Hopefully you have the support you need to get through this process. I am very lucky that I have an incredible boyfriend, wonderful friends and family plus some kick ass coworkers to help me through it. Nothing will bring Mojo back (and that just kills me). But maybe someone can find solace in the points above. I’ve got to try and make something good come from this pain.

Sweet sweet Mojo, how I miss you.

Sweet sweet Mojo, how I miss you.