By Kathryn Dyer
Once upon a time there was a little girl named Meagan. She lived with her mommy and daddy, her big brother Corwin and her beautiful cat named Starweaver. Meagan and her friend Cindy were visiting one of Meagan's friends from Circle named Kern. Kern had a dog named Lady. Lady was going to have puppies. Meagan and Cindy were excited because their parents had told them they each could have one of the puppies.
One day Meagan got a phone call from Kern. The puppies were being born! Meagan called Cindy to let her know. They asked their parents if they could go see the puppies being born. But it was too late at night and they had to stay home. Meagan asked her mother Elizabeth how long it would be before they could bring the puppy she choose home. "Well honey," said Elizabeth, "Puppies and kittens both need to nurse from their mothers for about six to eight weeks before they do well on just solid food." Meagan looked surprised, "Is that the same as two or three
in animal years?". "Yes," said Elizabeth, "All animals do better with the nutrients from their mother's milk to start their lives out right." "Oh," said Meagan, "But what if the mommy doesn't have any milk?" Elizabeth shifted the baby sleeping in her arms, "Well, in that case the people taking care of the animals would give them bottles just like humans do...in the wild the litter would just go on to the Summerland." "That would be sad," said Meagan.
"What would be sad?" asked her brother Corwin, coming into the room. "If a baby animal's mommy didn't have any milk and they didn't have any humans to take care of them and they went to the Summerland," responded Meagan in a rush. "But they would come back to Earth again sometime wouldn't they?" he asked. "Oh!" exclaimed Meagan, "I hadn't thought of that." Elizabeth nodded, "And sometimes animals die and go to the Summerland for other reasons. Remember when Cindy's dog Bud-Boy had cancer? The vet tried to make him well but eventually there wasn't anything anyone could do and he went on to the Summerland." "I hope nothing like that happens to my puppy!" exclaimed Meagan. "So do I," said her mother, "It's not very likely, Lady has already raised several litters of healthy puppies, but sometimes puppies are born that aren't really ready to be in this world."
When the puppies were two days old, Meagan and her mother and Cindy and her mother went to the farm where Kern and his family lived. It was a long drive and Meagan and Cindy were very excited. When they got there, Kern came out to the car crying. Meagan and Cindy jumped out. "What's wrong?" asked Meagan, patting him on the shoulder. Kern sniffed, "I didn't catch you before you left. We found Lady's puppies dead this morning!" Meagan and Cindy were shocked. They both stared at Kern for a minute before giving him a big hug. Elizabeth had gotten out of the car and turned to Kern's father Liam who had just come out of the barn. "What happened?" she asked. Liam shook his head, "We're not sure. The puppies looked fine last night but it looks like she just abandoned them so there must have been something wrong that we couldn't see." Meagan looked up at him, "You mean that Lady can tell if something is wrong when we can't?" Liam nodded, "Yes, animals have instincts that help them know when a litter will be able to survive. Since Lady has already had several litters we know it wasn't just because she didn't know how to take care of them. Some animals have to be taught how to take care of their babies, especially if they were orphaned early."
Cindy's mother Anna looked pale, "What should we do now?" she asked Elizabeth. Elizabeth looked at Liam, "Well, the girls had their hearts set on having one of those puppies...I think we should give them a chance to say good-bye." Kern cried louder now, "We can't! Mommy threw them away!" Now Liam looked shocked, "What? Honey, Mommy didn't throw them away. Their bodies are in a stall in the barn until we can give them back to the Earth properly." Kern stopped crying for a minute, "They are? I looked in the basket after Mommy told me they were dead and they were gone!" he sniffed a little more, "Can we have a Passing Over ritual?" Liam nodded, "Of course you can." Anna turned to Elizabeth, "What does that involve?"
"Well," said Elizabeth, "In this case we would put up a small circle around the area where the puppies will be buried and ask the God and Goddess to watch over them in the Summerland until they are ready to come back to Earth." "They'll be covered won't they?" Anna asked. Elizabeth shook her head, "That would be like a closed casket funeral Anna. It's usually easier for everyone if they get to see that there's not a spirit left in the bodies we give back to the Earth." "Oh," said Anna, "I don't think I can deal with that...Cindy?" "Yes Momma?" said Cindy. "Do you want to take part in this Passing Over ritual? You don't have to, but if you think it would make you feel better," said Anna, "I don't want to see the puppies but you were expecting to have one of them." "I want to say goodbye to them, even if I didn't ever get to see them alive," said Cindy, "But now I'm never going to get a puppy!" Liam smiled at her, "There's always tomorrow. Lady is very likely to have another litter in a few months."
Anna decided to stay at the house while everyone else went down to the barn to get the puppies. They carried them in an old blanket to a small grove of trees. Lady came along for a little bit and barked before running off. "I guess Lady just said goodbye too," said Meagan. Kern and Cindy nodded. Liam and Elizabeth dug a hole to bury the puppies in. "Why don't you all go look for some rocks to build a cairn?" suggested Liam. "What's a cairn?" asked Cindy. "Oh!" said Kern, "that's when you put a bunch of rocks over where you buried someone so that it marks the spot and keeps out the wild animals while the body turns into earth." Cindy picked up a little pebble, "I don't see how this would keep out wild animals!" Kern and Meagan laughed, "You've never seen a cairn before, Cindy. We use the biggest rocks we can carry over there." The children collected a lot of rocks while the burial spot was being dug while Liam's mother Elsa helped get some of the bigger rocks that were around.
After they had gotten plenty of rocks for the cairn, everyone got a chance to touch the puppies and tell them goodbye. Cindy wasn't sure if she wanted to touch them but Elizabeth told her she didn't have to. Cindy put one finger on a black and white puppy, "It's so soft!" she exclaimed, "It's hard to believe that it's not alive." Liam nodded, "Yes, some people tell their children that dead things are just sleeping but that's not true. When you die your spirit goes out of your body. But we believe that our spirits will go live with the Gods in the Summerland for a bit and then come back in brand-new bodies." Cindy nodded, "We think that our souls go to heaven. That's kinda the same thing isn't it?" The grown-ups nodded. Then everyone held hands while Elizabeth put up a Circle. They asked the Gods to come be with them and help everyone deal with feeling so sad. Elsa told the children, "It's only natural to feel sad when someone dies, even if you didn't know them very well. But we will see them again someday, if not on the Earth than we will meet them in the Summerland...or heaven" she added as she smiled at Cindy.
They buried the puppies to give their empty bodies back to the Earth. The children helped build the cairn which would mark the spot. Everyone went back to the house for lunch but no one was very hungry. Over the next few weeks Meagan, Cindy and Kern talked a lot about the puppies and how they missed them. But each day they found that they felt better and less sad about it. Their parents all told them to talk about the puppies as much as they wanted but that if someone didn't want to talk about it to come to them instead. "Some people are scared of death," said Elizabeth, "And it's not polite to make them feel uncomfortable by talking about it with them." Meagan hoped that someday she would have another chance to have a puppy. One day she went to bed and realized that she didn't feel sad about the puppies dying anymore. "I hope one of those puppies comes back to be my friend," she told her father as he tucked her into bed. Starweaver jumped up onto her pillow. "You never know!" replied her father, kissing her. Meagan snuggled into the covers and fell asleep dreaming of fields of puppies all playing with her. It had been a good day.
(Click here to see the page where I got this story of "Meagan And The Puppies" from).