On a brutal winter morning in 1987, my dog Buddy, died. I loved and grieved for him as much as, and quite possibly more than, I had grieved for my own dear parents.
Buddy, at 125 pounds, weighed more than I do. He stood a head taller than me when he put his big paws on my shoulders and licked me on my arrival home from work each night. Big as he was in stature, Buddy's heart and gentle nature were even bigger.
Each morning, before my husband and I awoke, Buddy would ever so carefully climb up on the pillows above our heads. When the alarm sounded, he was our official greeter for each day.
The love and joy that this wonderful creature brought to our family is impossible to measure. But it is what happened after his death that is truly incredible.
In the more than 10 years since that devastating November morning when Buddy died, I've actually seen him twice. Both times, he heralded things to come and delivered a message of bad news, yet his appearance gave me tremendous reassurance.
Before my husband was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, Buddy came to see me. Though I was in my bedroom, I wasn't asleep. It may be hard to believe, but I actually saw Buddy. This vision was accompanied by a very warm feeling that comforted me as if I were being wrapped in a blanket of love. At the same time, I simply thought Buddy had returned to let me know that he was okay. It wasn't until years later that I finally realized why he had visited me. This understanding came to me gradually, after his next appearance.
The second time I saw Buddy was early on a mist-filled morning, almost five years later. I stepped to the front window of my house to see how thick the fog was outside. In the mist, I saw my beautiful Buddy. Our contact was brief but very powerful. Then he was gone. From this visit, I clearly understood that something was coming into my life that would involve tremendous heartbreak. Yet, Buddy's message to me was that I'd have the strength to heal.
One week after I saw Buddy in the mist, my only daughter was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease.
As I write this story, it's been six months since I saw Buddy. During that period, my husband died and my daughter finished her treatment. We await the results of tests to confirm that she's in remission.
There are many cultures in our world that believe animals are our spiritual links. From my own experience, I know that Buddy is mine. When he comes to me again, I'll be sure that, whatever lessons are in my path, I'll be able to walk through them to the other side.
Reprinted from Angel Animals -- Exploring Our Spiritual Connection with Animals by Allen and Linda Anderson © 1999 Permission granted by PLUME, a division of PENGUIN GROUP (USA)