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The Circle of Life as Taught by Little Deer and Shakti

    It was an unusually cold November in 1975 when a young stray dog showed up in the neighborhood. My girlfriend Tony and I were living in a little cottage at the edge of a large forest. I noticed that this rather ugly young dog had been hanging around for a few days. I mentioned it to Tony and I asked her not to feed the dog because then it wouldn�t go away. Tony told me that it was too late because she had already been putting food out for it.

    Then the weather turned extremely cold and a huge snow storm blew in. I had never seen it so cold and snowy in November. We began trying to take care of the stray dog. But she was wild. She wouldn�t let us get anywhere near her; but neither would she actually run far away. There was a little shed out back so I propped the door open and I started putting food inside for her hoping that she would use the shed for shelter. But I noticed that she would never go in it and she wouldn�t touch the food in there. So I just started putting the food outside and then she would eat it. She would sleep outside curled up on the snow.

    As time passed I noticed that she was a very odd dog. We named her �Little Deer� because she was wild like a deer and very much the same color. After a couple of weeks or so she started becoming friendly with us and soon she started coming into the house. As I said, she was quite odd. She didn�t want to learn much of anything. But finally after a long time she did learn to �come�, �lay down� and �NO�. That was it. But she was sweet and gentle and had a loveable quality that was indescribable.

    One detail to remember as this story goes on is that Little Deer had a bizarre way in which she laid down and got up. It�s hard to describe but she would use her front legs to lower her back end down and she also seemed to struggle when she wanted to get up. She would sort of pull her body and back end up with her front legs. Of course, I thought that she had bad hips and had her x-rayed and examined by vets on more than one occasion; but no one could ever find anything wrong with her.

    Eventually, my girlfriend Tony left; but Little Deer stayed on with me. Little Deer and I were great friends and even though she seemed worthless and ugly our bond with one another grew. I don�t know why. She didn�t like to play fetch like other dogs. She didn�t like to ride in the car. When I would light a fire in the fire place or wood stove she would become extremely frightened and run away to another part of the house. She didn�t seem to be a good watch dog. But she was never any trouble and everyone who got to know her loved her.

    Some years passed and I got married. My wife and I bought some land in the countryside among the farms and began to design a home. We bought a male rottweiler pup to keep Little Deer company and to help guard the new house. We named the new dog Barron. He was a wonderful dog. In due time the house was done and away we all went. It was a nice place to live and the dogs loved it. There was a creek and a couple of ponds and there were fields and woods that the dogs loved to roam. And it was peaceful and quiet. They both had their favorite areas of the property and Little Deer and Barron each had a different favorite spot outside where they liked to lay around.

    A few years went by and one night I was lying in bed awake waiting for my wife to come home from work. All at once I heard Little Deer and Barron barking their heads off and running across the front yard toward the bedroom where I was lying. That was not a good sign. And suddenly, only a few feet outside of by bedroom window, two gunshots rang out.

    In those days I was armed to the teeth. (Now days I don�t keep any weapons at all.) I felt that I needed to be armed because emergency law enforcement was practically non-existent in that county and everyone was more or less on their own. I grabbed my assault rifle from under the bed and was prepared for whatever. When no one burst into the house right away, I began turning on the outside floodlights. My wife would be coming home soon and I had to make sure that it was safe for her to drive up. I went into the garage in order to sneak outside to see if anyone was still around. In the garage Little Deer was lying on the floor. At first I didn�t know that she was hurt; but then I realized that she wouldn�t get up.

    Apparently whoever had been outside my house was gone. My wife pulled up and we turned our attention to Little Deer. She had been shot in the hind legs with a shotgun. But it had been at far enough range that she wasn�t in bad shape. In the morning I took her to the veterinarian. He x-rayed her and confirmed that she had been shot. She was sore; but in a couple of days she was feeling better.

    Little Deer and Barron had perhaps saved my life. I don�t know who had been out there or why, and I don�t know what would have happened if the dogs hadn�t taken action. Perhaps I would have been shot in my bed.

    By the time that this incident had taken place Little Deer had been with me for about 12 years. I had always guessed that she was about a year old when we met and so she was fairly old in dog years. And after this unfortunate incident Little Deer�s health started to decline. I knew that I was losing her and I just had to face the facts. The veterinarian diagnosed her with a heart condition and they gave me medicine that she had to have twice a day. It was very expensive; but nothing was too good for Little Deer. After a couple of months the vet took pity on me and gave me a discount on the medicine and we managed to keep Little Deer going for about six months. But finally the medication became toxic to her. She had lost a lot of weight and was mostly skin and bones. She could barely stand or walk and I couldn�t bear it anymore. I knew that her time had come.

    I was working the night shift in those days and after work on a Tuesday morning I called the veterinarian to tell him that I would be taking Little Deer into the office the next day after work to bring her suffering to an end. He agreed that it was time.

    It was winter, and at that time of year Little Deer and Barron liked to stay in the garage. I would leave the door up a little bit for them so that they could come and go as they wished. I had made a nice bed of straw in there for Little Deer and right before I left for work on Tuesday night I gave her an extra portion of her favorite food. She jumped right up and ate it in front of me and then I left knowing what I was going to have to do when I came home the next morning. No matter how aloof and detached I thought I was, I was very upset about the whole thing.

    But when I arrived home, Little Deer was nowhere to be found. Years earlier I had figured that Little Deer was probably half coyote and half coon hound. And that wild half of her wanted to go out to die in the same natural surroundings in which she had probably been born. Many wild animals and even some native peoples are that way. But I got Barron and we went out to try to find her. He must have known where she had gone. But he wasn�t saying. I walked the fields and the woods with him calling and calling for Little Deer; but I never found her.

    What a wonderful girl. She also knew that it was time and she had spared me the horrible task of putting her away. I will always be grateful to her for that.

    Well Little Deer was sorely missed. I tried to take Barron with me in the truck as much as possible. He loved to ride. And winter turned to spring and spring to summer and, you guessed it, summer to fall. I began to think that I should get another female dog to keep Barron company. I can�t remember now if it was so much for me or Barron; but at any rate, I began to plan for that. I always liked to get new puppies in the spring. The weather was good enough then that they could stay outside most of the time so that I wouldn�t have to worry about immediate �poddy� training. And so I began to look.

    A friend of mine named Tony had a rottweiler bitch that he planned to breed. I used to spend a lot of time at Tony�s house and I really loved his dog. Her name was Jessica and she was a huge dog and a real sweetheart. She and I had been great friends for years. Tony bred Jessica to a famous local rottweiler named Turbo, and late in the winter Jessica had her litter.

    The man who owned Turbo was supposed to get the pick of the litter as his breeder�s fee and I was to get second pick. I went to Tony�s house nearly every day to watch the pups. A large female was the first pup to open its eyes and she was the first to find her way out of the whelping box. She was the lead pup of the litter and she was beautiful, energetic and irrepressible. She was the pup that I wanted; but I had to wait to see which one the breeder would pick.

    Finally, after about six weeks, the breeder made his choice. He also wanted the pup that I wanted; but at the last moment he chose a male pup because the female that I wanted had a tiny white spot on her chest. Even though the white spot only consisted of about five white hairs it was an undesirable trait in the rottweiler breed. I was thrilled at my good luck and I named the new pup �Shakti�.

    The next day I grabbed a cardboard box to put Shakti in during transport and went to Tony�s house. As I was leaving Tony and I paused in the living room to visit. Jessica was there and Shakti was in the box; but true to her nature she was trying to escape. Jessica was watching her and every time Shakti nearly got out of the box, Jessica would knock her back in. It was pretty cute.

    Shakti and I went home and I introduced her to Barron. He seemed happy and they hit it right off. I was very busy in those days and didn�t spend a lot of time at home. It was the perfect time of year, the weather was good and I left Shakti outside with Barron knowing that he would take care of her, and he did.

    The weeks passed quickly. Shakti was doing well and growing fast. As I mentioned earlier, I wasn�t spending a lot of time at home then; but when I was there I spent my time playing with Shakti and Barron. At some point I began to notice some curious things about Shakti. The first thing was that she had a peculiar way of lying down and getting up. In fact she would lie down and get up in the very same bizarre way that Little Deer did. Hmmmmm, I thought! What�s up with that? The rottweiler breed is known to have a lot of hip problems and I was afraid that maybe her hips were the problem. As it turned out it wasn�t though. Her hips were fine. I also noticed that Shakti like to lie in the very same favorite place that Little Deer liked. And as time went on, I realized that Shakti wasn�t really trainable. Eventually, just like Little Deer, she learned how to �come�, �lay down� and �NO�. That�s was it. She didn�t want to play fetch and she was slightly averse to riding in the truck.

    All this began to sink in. Shakti was just like Little Deer. I could even see that their faces and heads were very much alike. Shakti didn�t have a typical rottweiler head. Her nose was rather long and thin like Little Deer and it seemed that Little Deer�s black and brown facial markings were there in Shakti; but now they were more refined. Little Deer�s brown markings above her eyes were there in Shakti; but Shakti�s were smaller. If you have the photo supplement you can see that Little Deer had brown markings on the side of her face and at the front of her shoulders. Shakti also had them. Most rottweilers do. You can see them in Barron�s photo. And Little Deer�s white chest was slightly there in Shakti and in fact those few white hairs were the reason that I ended up with her. (I couldn�t find a photo of Shakti. I�ve emailed my now ex-wife to see if she can send me one. She�s saved everything, except for me. heh, heh, heh We�ll see what happens). As I was writing this it even occurred to me for the very first time that there were two different Tonys who were instrumental in bringing these dogs into my life.

    Well, we�ve all heard stories about dogs and cats finding their way back to their families over long, long distances. But could a dog find its way back from the grave? I had been immersed in yoga, meditation and the Vedanta for many years and as we all know reincarnation is an integral part of those teachings. But I�m the kind of person who only believes what I know to be true. That doesn�t mean that I disbelieve things; but who needs the mental baggage? You know � so and so believes this and that; but doesn�t believe something else; but they don�t really know�and so who cares? One person believes that Guruji is an avatar and another person doesn�t, etc., etc., etc. Believing this or that doesn�t make it true and usually doesn�t even help. In fact I feel that most of these beliefs are nothing more than a cloud over true awareness. So I didn�t believe in reincarnation and neither did I disbelieve. I just didn�t know. But I did know that I was experiencing a very strange situation and as time passed I couldn�t get it out of my mind. In fact, it started to consume me.

    One day I was in the kitchen doing something and I heard one of the dogs knocking at the kitchen door that went out into the garage. My dogs would knock on the door if they wanted in or out. So I opened the door and there was Shakti. She was standing there wiggling around all happy acting and she had a dog�s skull in her mouth.

    Shakti seemed radiant. She put the skull down in the garage and came into the kitchen. You can imagine what was going on in my mind. Was this Little Deer�s skull that she had? Had she found her own bones? I was thrilled yet perplexed and my mind was racing. I am a total skeptic about everything and I didn�t know what to think; but I quickly decided that I had to do something to draw a conclusion about all of this. Perhaps there was a huge lesson here to be experienced and therefore learned; but how could I decide what to believe or think? In an instant I decided what to do. I would put Shakti to an impossible test. That way she would fail, and I would know that I was just fantasizing and in that way I could put the whole matter out of my mind.

    So Shakti was still sitting there in the kitchen. Really and truly she seemed to be beaming. She was so happy. She was only six or seven months old, just big enough to even be able to get a dog�s skull in her mouth. And as I�ve said, she didn�t know anything and wasn�t trained. So I put her to the test, I told her, �If you�re Little Deer, you get up right now and kiss me on the lips.� I was bending down only a little and fast as lightning she sprang up and planted a huge kiss right on my lips and was licking me and licking me. I was amazed and overjoyed. I nearly swooned. I had to go sit down. I had asked her to do something that I knew she wouldn�t do, couldn�t do. How did she even know what I said? I chose a test that she would fail. But she didn�t.

    Somehow Little Deer had really come back to me. My intellect tried to grasp the mechanics of the situation; but it couldn�t. Had she reincarnated? Do people reincarnate? If so, how could that happen? Or was it just my thoughts or my individual cosmic dream that had created the situation? I couldn�t figure it out then and I can�t figure it out now; but here is what I have concluded: Life is a circle without a beginning and without and end. Nothing is outside of it. And it isn�t static; but it revolves, constantly moving and churning and changing. It is the supreme mystery a magical show that cannot be compared to anything for it is everything.

    Little Deer and Shakti, along with another very significant experience that happened about the same time that I got Shakti, taught me that there isn�t any death; but forms simply expire and change. There is only life. There isn�t any death. But above and beyond all of this, I learned that LIFE is inherently blissful, magical and kind. LIFE can be trusted. Fast forward to January 1995:

    Barron grew old and died in January, 1995. My wife divorced me in March of the same year. My father fell ill in mid-November of 1995 and died within two weeks. While my father was ill Shakti got a sore leg. I checked her out and couldn�t really find anything wrong with it and in a couple of days it actually got better. But about the time my dad died, and a couple of days before his funeral Shakti�s leg got sore again and this time it started swelling. The day after my dad�s funeral I took her to the vet. She was quickly diagnosed with bone cancer. I took her home to care for her and I tried to stay with her all the time like I did with my dad. I thought that she might have a significant amount of time left; but her condition rapidly became grave. Within about ten days I called the vet and he came to the house to do what we had to do. I buried her out back next to Barron.

    It had been a tough year and I had some very sad times. Everyone and everything that was close to me died or left. And after Shakti�s passing I was sad; but instead of being grieved I really felt relieved. I knew that she hadn�t really died she had changed into something that I could no longer see. And I wasn�t going to disrespect her and Little Deer by ignoring the wonderful lesson that they had taught me. No, I wasn�t going to wallow in grief and sadness. I had to smile and move on. I wanted to and I did.

    I became free and I never looked back. I sold my half of the house to my ex-wife and left there to wait for the next magic show to begin. And soon enough it did.

    I am free and I need nothing; but my wish for those of you who may need some extra love is that I hope that your sad times pass quickly and your happy times linger long; but in the midst of it all I pray that you will always be at peace while this wonderful life revolves in its never ending circle.

    Shanti, Shanti, Shanti - Peace, Peace, Peace

    � Michael Bowes