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A Spiritually Enlightening Online Magazine. March's Theme: "Pets"
Volume 4 Issue 3 ISSN# 1708-3265
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My Pet Sheep
by Jennifer Kusz

I am not a dog person. My family had one dog during my childhood years, a springer spaniel named Tyler. I was heartbroken when my parents made the decision to find him a new home, but I was too young to truly understand what a special thing I'd lost. Scattered encounters with canines throughout my later childhood were brief and unremarkable. I eventually discovered a love for cats and that devotion has followed me fiercely into adulthood. Two cats currently reside in my house (and in my heart). I wouldn't trade them for a thousand dogs, much less one. Despite this unfaltering loyalty to the feline species, I have, thanks to a dog-who-was-not-quite-a-dog named Queenie, come to appreciate the canines of this world. I met Queenie just over three years ago, shortly after meeting the woman who became my wife. She was a peculiar little thing of unknown breed. Covered in orange fluff, she trotted around Lisa's apartment while I received the grand tour, ears bouncing and tail wagging. Her wool-like fur, lamb-face and scrawny little legs reminded me somewhat of sheep. This later became a joke, as I often referred to Queenie as our little orange sheep.

When Lisa and Queenie first moved in with the cats and I (and two turtles, a hamster and several rats), I regarded her as one might an alien invader. She was unfamiliar to me with her doggy ways. I was unaccustomed to such a loyal and dependent creature. Cats are confidently self-sufficient, devoted to only those they deem worthy and affectionate only when they choose to be so. Indeed, those are some of the qualities I love about them. But it wasn't long before Queenie had found herself a nice cozy spot in my heart and plopped down to stay. She wasn't a very 'doggish' dog, she was fairly autonomous and not at all clingy or needy like some other dogs I'd experienced. She rarely barked, she batted toys across the floor much in the fashion of a playful feline and she padded quietly around the apartment in an un-intrusive manner, minding her own business and letting us mind ours. Even when she begged, it was in a gentle and quiet way, from far across the room. Sure, she had her quirks - an obsession with tissue, underwear and cat feces; an insistence upon growling at our kitty Hazel every time she was less than three feet away (something Hazel knew and loved to take advantage of); a guard-dog protectiveness when the mailman or anyone else dared come to the door - but what dog, or cat for that matter, doesn't have funny little habits? Those are the things we miss most when they are gone. Ultimately, Queenie was vastly different than most dogs (and I'm not the only one to make this claim). She held wisdom in that tranquil gaze, it seemed as though she knew more about life and love than the common man. Sometimes it seemed that she knew me better than I myself know me. We connected on a spiritual level, a level I never knew I could connect on with anyone, much less a dog. We were - are - kindred souls.

Since her passing, this house has not been the same. Even Hazel misses her, I think - the teasing and taunting more of a friendly and mischievous game than malicious feline disdain. Lisa, although elementally the same woman I fell in love with, is subtly changed. If one defined Lisa, surely Queenie would fit into that definition somewhere. Queenie's physical absence has not altered the definition, but it seems that a piece of Lisa left with Queenie and she cannot be whole again until her spirit and Queenie's reunite once again. Fourteen years she slept with Queenie by her side, fourteen years too few.

We have a new dog now, a bubbly, charming and cute-as-a-button rat terrier-chihuahua rescue-pup. Her name is Daisy. She is pure dog, with all of those habits and quirks which truly define canines. She has brought laughter and life into a grieving household and although she can never fill the empty space Queenie left behind, she has tempered the pain somewhat. Queenie sent her to us, without a doubt - there were signs along the way which couldn't be dismissed or ignored. So, even when Daisy is driving us (and the cats) crazy with her energetic puppy ways, I can't help but smile and thank Queenie for this precious gift. She has given me two gifts in her life - the love of a dog-who-was-not-quite-a-dog, and the love of a pup who is dog through-and-through. With those gifts, I have learned to not only appreciate but to also crave the presence of a canine in both my house and my heart.

Queenie's spirit visits us from time to time, and even when she cannot cross the threshold, she sends signs of her distant love. We see butterflies now, quite frequently and in unlikely places. Beautiful monarchs, their black and orange wings fluttering before our eyes and blowing us kisses from heaven. Our little pet sheep may be gone in body, but never will she be gone in heart.

Jennifer is happily married to a wonderful woman, Lisa. Theirs is a union of true, deep, respectful love… the kind we all dream about. Of course we mustn't forget… their beautiful little fur-family! Her two cats - Max and Hazel, dogs - Daisy (and Queenie, who is frolicking in puppy-heaven), rats Gloria, Fifi, Charlie, Tobey, Abby and Allie. Her hamster - Poohbear and aquatic-turtles Maximus and S.A.M.

Jennifer is embarking on a new career as a Behavioral Analyst and also works part time at a group home providing care to persons with physical and developmental disabilities.

She is also a writer and poet with a passion for the written word since childhood. Jennifer's poetry has been featured in The Prologue, an annual publication of the University of WI, River Falls, Body Mind Spirit Magazine and here at TSM.

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