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A Spiritually Enlightening Online Magazine. September's Theme: "Opening"
Volume 3 Issue 6 ISSN# 1708-3265
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An Opening Story
by Dr. Jean Hofve, DVM

This issue, I'm going to tell you a personal story with an important lesson.

I am a cat person. It's that simple. Not that I disliked dogs; dogs were fine, but I just never had the same simpatico with dogs I always felt with cats. But my best friend was a dog person (as well as loving cats), so when we bought a house in the late 1980s, dogs were part of the program. She had a middle-aged dog named Levon, but wanted to get a puppy for her young son to grow up with. At the Longmont Humane Society, she adopted a 10-month old Aussie mix who had been hit by a car, and was also, we were told, blind in one eye. We named him Willy.

At the time, I was a deputy sheriff in Boulder County working the graveyard shift. I'd often walk Levon and Willy around 10 p.m., all of us enjoying the cool, peaceful darkness. But life is all about change, and a year or two later I got the brilliant idea to go to veterinary school. After taking the prerequisite classes, I moved to Fort Collins, Colorado, to enter the veterinary program at Colorado State. Of course, I'd still come back to Boulder to visit; and every time I dropped by, Willy would plaster himself to my leg or whatever body part was handy. If I sat on the couch, he was right next to me. I thought it was cute, if a little weird, but never gave it much consideration.

Long story short, evidently Willy was supposed to be my dog, and although it took him 6 years to arrange it, eventually he came to live with me permanently. He was a best friend to me and my 5 cats until he passed away at age 14, in 2002.

I could tell you a million wonderful stories about Willy, but what I want to tell you about today is what happened after Willy died. That's when I received his greatest gift - an open heart.

Dogs excel at unconditional love. That's why they're here on the planet; to help us receive and express that beautiful love. Willy was really good at it, and I loved him deeply, but throughout his life I always said Willy was so special that I could not see ever having any other dog but him. Any other dog, I could take or leave; I thought only Willy could penetrate my heart the way cats did so easily.

We (the cats and I) were bereft without Willy. But that's when his teaching really began. It turns out that the cats related to each other mainly through Willy. He was the hub, and they were the spokes of the wheel. He had raised all of them from early kittenhood, and he was their centre. Without him, the cats had to open up and reach out to each other to create new relationships. It changed the whole dynamic of the household in many surprising ways.

But if Willy taught the cats to open to new ways of dealing with the world, he taught me something even more amazing. He opened my heart to love in a big way. Suddenly, I love dogs! I want to pet and fuss over every dog I see. My heart is just overflowing with love for dogs - something I'd never thought was possible.

And more than that, I am now better able to love other human beings - something I was never very good at. The openness to dogs has translated to openness to all beings. Willy gave me such a precious gift, I can never thank him enough.

So, the lesson is: let the dogs in your life teach you how to open to love. They are truly the masters.

Dr. Jean Hofve has been a holistic veterinarian for more than 12 years. She founded SpiritEssence in 1995, which remains the only line of essence formulas for animals created by a veterinarian. Dr. Hofve does health, nutrition, and behavior consultations through www.littlebigcat.com.

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