Once upon a time in modern times there was a young spirit in the heavens whose turn it was to visit Earth. The young spirit was very excited, as young spirits are wont to be, and couldn’t wait to hear the details of his adventure to come.
He arrived and sat by the Great Spirit, the Universe, God of all things, and asked him:
“Great Spirit, what shape will I take in my adventure?”
“Well,” said the Great Spirit, “it’s been decided that you will take on the being of a Dog.”
The young spirit considered this for a moment. Playfulness, fresh air, belly rubs, treats. It didn’t sound bad at all. But…
“I won’t have to do all kinds of dog things, will I? Like fetch… or be completely obedient, or…”
“Don’t worry,” the Great Spirit smiled, “you’ll keep a mind of your own. In fact, you can pretend to be a wolf if you like. But you have to be a dog, because you have a very special mission ahead. You’ve been chosen to change a life.”
The young spirit was amazed.
“Whose life?” he asked.
“You’ll know soon enough,” the Great Spirit replied.
And so it was that in flash of light, on a sunny day in Ohio, that the young spirit found himself in a glass aquarium of a fish store. He examined his big blonde paws and saw his puppy shape in the reflection of the window – a big white heart on his forehead. Next to him was another puppy on a different mission, and they were glad of each other’s company in this strange new world.
As the hours passed the young pup began to grow worried. A few people had walked in and out of the store – many had noticed him and pet him with affection, but nothing had really happened. What if he didn’t find the one he was supposed to find? What if he was in the wrong place, the wrong town?
He didn’t really feel like an Ohio dog, though to be fair he’d only been in town for the briefest of times. Still, it felt like his destiny held something more exotic. He couldn’t help feeling more Samurai companion than farmer’s dog. Surely he was meant for something grand, something extraordinary? As he lay his little head down on his paws, he watched the sun set outside, and tried to ignore the voice of doubt in his mind.
Early the next morning the young pup yawned awake. The store opened up and the new day began. He looked around in hope, but there were no customers. Just as he was about to lie down again in dejection, a sound outside caught his attention. Then a shape outside the glass window, a shape of someone who walked into the store.
As he looked up the pup locked eyes with the young man, who saw him right away. And he knew, beyond a doubt, he was in the right place at the right time.
Because in front of him, right there on that early Midwestern morning, there he was.
And his person, being his person, didn’t walk past him. Didn’t pet him and leave. In fact this young man named Amin, who had no intention of buying a puppy that morning, recognized him too. And knew his life would never be the same again. So it was that Amin, being a person with extraordinary instincts, adopted the pup there and then.
And the rest, as they say, is history. But more than history, it would become legend.
To say that they did everything together would be a mere hint at the bond that grew after that. Side by side they learned, walked, played, hiked, reveled in silliness and training and discovery. Though Amin had never had a dog companion before, he knew instantly that normal traditions and rules didn’t apply to this special soul who had joined his life. Cello complied with the training, but also knew he had a special agreement with Amin that they would bend the rules whenever they wanted to. After all, Cello was not just a dog born for dog things. Cello was a soul sent on a mission to change a life.
Amin and Cello learned about an unbreakable bond between soul mates. One that opened Amin’s eyes to what it was like to have a creature depend on him so entirely. One that opened his heart up to the vast and powerful love a person could feel for another. One that opened up his mind to the possibilities of just how wonderful the simple things were, and how huge the universe and its wonder could be. And that little puppy continued to grow.
Soon that puppy with big paws was a huge, beautiful dog – still with a white heart on his head. Everyone fell in love with him, and he loved Amin – and knew he was exactly where he was meant to be in the world. They both knew it, and not a single day was taken for granted.
With Cello, Amin learned what it meant to be a parent. He also learned the incredible mix of being both the center of a universe, and having to earn a show of affection that was so valuable from a dog who acted more like a noble wild beast. Cello was the amazing mix of awe-inspiring and goofy, of fiercely loyal and cool with his public displays of affection.
Cello was there the first time Amin questioned everything. When Amin experienced success, failure, love, friendship, family, hard work and change. Cello was there when Amin woke up one day to realize he was born to follow his bliss, and uprooted his safe life to take Cello and his wonderful adopted pup brother Oboe to California.
The nights they slept on a bare floor together, the days they wandered the streets looking for a home that would accept them all; on every one of those days, Cello the soul knew he was exactly where he was meant to be, and that he would follow Amin to the ends of the earth. And Amin knew his companion would be with him through every step of his journey.
Life with Amin was Cello’s absolute his idea of heaven. After all, Amin was extraordinary; a human who could ‘speak’ animal and had an instinct on how to share his life that was better than any other person in the world. If Amin was having fun, Cello should be having an equal amount of fun. If Amin ate, Cello ate alongside him… even the naughty scraps of delicious things Amin would initially resist feeding him – when they both knew it was inevitable.
When Amin slept, Cello slept near him and kept watch. He knew that Amin was a human who had a magical power for knowing the absolute best walks – the best nooks and crannies of neighbourhoods for exploring. A man who saw every change of weather, turn of light and occasion as a chance to take Cello and Oboe out into it for an adventure. A man who moved them all right next to Runyon Canyon, the best doggie place on earth.
Cello was happy for Amin when he got into film school and began making films, following his dream. He was there when Amin got sunflowers on his birthday from a new person named Claire – and sniffed them in approval. He knew something important had happened, and made sure to investigate her thoroughly when she arrived to visit for the first time. When he saw how much this female person loved his Amin, how affectionate she was with both of them, and the potential there for twice as much love (and food scraps) to come – he gave his approval, and was there the day they got married at the top of their beloved Runyon.
Months later this new Claire – whom Cello promised Amin to protect always – moved in to their apartment, and the four became a special family. Bears know bears, and these four bears were born to be together. That feeling of knowing they were exactly where they were meant to be grew, and became a lifestyle of simple pleasures and never taking a single moment together for granted.
Amin, Claire, Cello and Oboe lived, laughed, walked together. They spent every day together, every available minute, and those minutes were filled with joy and affection. Watching movies, hiking, exploring, playing music, creating songs, laughing at new hilarious moments each day.
As he had been from the moment he found Cello, and as every new parent is, Amin was plagued with the occasional sense of dread about losing him one day. Sometimes Cello would watch Amin quietly and sense his worry; being the higher spirit that he was, he knew that nothing would ever really separate them.
Cello accepted that Amin and Claire would always fear the day his time on earth ended, and he appreciated that endless affection that came to him because and in spite of this. He knew that eventually the day would come where they would all have to accept a shift, but in the meantime, they were doing a perfect job of making this time on earth together a spectacular one.
Cello also knew he had not only achieved the mission of changing not one but two lives in his Amin and his Claire, but that he had also achieved his destiny in the ultimate existence on earth as Amin’s companion and best friend.
And so when the day came that Cello had to leave – when he felt his time doing everything he loved the most had come to a close, and his comfort lay ahead of him – he felt sad for knowing that his bear family would have to endure an inevitable heartbreak at his departure.
And yet he, being the wise soul that he was, knew that they were forever bonded, and would be together again soon. He wished he could take away their pain, but himself felt no fear.
Cello knew Amin had many adventures ahead where he would be there in Amin’s heart and mind, and never for a moment felt he would be anywhere but right by Amin’s side in the moments to come. And so with his last strength he sat up and kissed Amin right on the nose – as if to say- I love you, you’re mine and I’m yours, nothing will ever separate us. It was his temporary and perfect ‘see you soon’.
Now Cello is back beside the Great Spirit, the Universe, God of all things. He is full of joy and peace and runs around with puppy energy and the wisdom of having achieved his absolute destiny. He’s a very, very happy soul. His spirit has remained beside his family, and he gets to be in two places at once, and everything is perfect.
There are moments when he senses the grief strike through his Amin and Claire, and then feels such sorrow that they have to experience these feelings even though he is so close. He sighs deeply, and asks the Great Spirit if it’s completely necessary for those he loves so much to feel any pain this way. The reply comes:
“Death is fleeting, but humans feel pain born of a deep love that lasts forever. You must let them feel what they feel, and they will be the stronger from it. The pain will get better, evolve, but the longing will always be there. They will realize you are something that is forever in what they do next, how they love and how they live.
You, young spirit, beloved dog Cello, have changed these lives and more. And now you get to be loved forever by those whose lives you changed, whom you have made stronger and more loving, more accepting and more joyful. You are their boy always’.
And so Cello realizes that these strange, complicated feelings are what make humans so wonderful. He accepts this time, and knows the best is yet to come. His spirit radiates through their home, and his love continues to make their life better.
Cello feels like he’s always just in the next room, snoozing or watching us with curiousity. And if you tune in to just the right energy, you can feel his tail wagging in spite of himself, and his warm brown eyes shine with deep happiness at being Home.
Dedicated to our Lulu, Saturday October 12th, 2013.