Monday, February 18, 2013


If there are no dogs in heaven, then when I die
I want to go where they went
                                                          Will Rogers

Proof of Heaven written by renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Eben Alexander answers the question in his fascinating book. A New York Times Best Seller, it tells of Dr. Alexander’s miraculous recovery after a diagnosis of bacterial meningitis. His physicians gave him a 10% chance of recovery and living in a vegetative state if he managed to survive.   Dr. Alexander writes of a near death experience (NDE) in extraordinary detail.

One thing that he wrote in his description of flying over a brilliant heavenly landscape took my breath away. He wrote about seeing a dog running and jumping among people and like the people, it was full of joy.

In my book Life with McDuff: Lessons Learned from a Therapy Dog, I write about an incident after the death of my Scottish terrier therapy dog that I was hesitant to include. I held McDuff in my arms and watched the life ebb out of his eyes on Halloween morning, 2003. He returned to me a few months after I put him down to shake me out of my prolonged and overwhelming grief as I cried for him in the mid-night hours.

Therapy dogs and their owners are extremely close, but there was more between us. McDuff was a Spirit Dog, and we shared an unusual bond. Many time I witnessed his uncanny effect on people and other animals during our nine years together.

One thing I know without a doubt. McDuff’s spirit went somewhere and it came back from somewhere. It doesn't concern me whether whether anyone else shares my belief. There is life after death — even for our beloved pets.

Here is my poem, "Never Again," from Life with McDuff:

Never again will I see those wise mystical eyes,
Eyes I loved so well burn into mine,
Eyes that created joy and comfort, healing and calmness
Amusement and laughter, and tears of frustration;

Never again will I witness your tender tongue convey
Love and unconditional acceptance,
The tongue that brought smiles
To the face of the sick and disabled;

Never again will you be there to lick the tears away from my face,
If ever life beats me down to the ground;
Never again will I feel the comfort and protection of your furry back
Against my leg as we lie sleeping in bed;

Forever more will I hold in my heart the life lessons you taught,
How to forgive, love unconditionally,
Look beyond outer appearances,
Enjoy life instead of fighting and resisting it,
And to help myself by being of service to others;

Farewell, my teacher, my friend, my companion
The joy and blessing of having you in my life
Far outweighed the pain of losing you;
Farewell my McDuff,
Until we meet again, and I gaze into those eyes once more.