how a wild rescue dog taught me about love


faint echo of you
remains everywhere I go
I miss you, old girl

Last Monday at 10:20 am, we said goodbye forever to our sweet old girl Emma. It was a tender and painful day, especially since we had spent the past 15 years making sure Emma knew she was loved regardless of her quirky and neurotic cattle dog ways. And Emma gave us more in return than we could have ever expected.

Emma came to our world in the form of a skinny and skittish coyote-looking rescue dog who was frightened of everything. Emma whimpered and yelped far more than she ever barked and she fulfilled her herding duties by nipping at the heels and backsides of the children in our lives. She was a dog on a mission, and that quickly turned out to be chasing as many balls and sticks as possible and making sure that when we left the house, the garbage and cupboards were given a thorough examination, leaving piles of trash and torn up containers in her work zone. When we were with her, Emma made sure that she was either near us or watching us as much as possible, and up until her last breath, she offered a gentle and trusting presence to our lives.

With Emma’s death, I’ve lost one of my greatest teachers of unconditional love, trust, and the value of free-spirited play. Emma has taught me more about the significance of letting go and the importance of cultivating patience than any spiritual guide could have, and even in her absence, I can feel the pull of her teachings in our tiny little home. I recognize the spaces of time that I filled by kissing, loving, feeding, cleaning, and being with her and her pile of toys sits as a reminder that the floor is as good a place as any to work out unwanted frustrations or negative energy. Just grab a plush toy and shake it wildly and in just a few moments, all worry melts into nonsense and the world seems to be a better place.

So, today, in honor of our sweetest and most wildly unique Emma dog, we will take our time and soak in every moment. The bright blooms of spring and the vigorous flight of the birds in our yard seem to echo our bursting hearts. Every tender moment a reminder to love fully and to live in a way that matters.

8 thoughts on “how a wild rescue dog taught me about love

  1. I believe it was Aristotle who said that A Dog is so much more than the sum of its parts. Here’s to Emma and her synergy and the blessing of her life. A beautiful obituary, Wendi.

    • Thank you so much, Christi- Aristotle couldn’t have put it better. She was so much more than the sum of her parts. And the spirit that lingers continues to feed my soul. Missing her fabulously sweet ways…

  2. blogging from the heart participant here. brought tears to my eyes. wish i could have met emma. sorry for your loss. we adopted our first doggie this year. he gives you wet licks of luv. 😀

    • you’re so sweet, Sandra- congratulations on your new addition. I’ve never been without a dog, and the emptiness is profound. Emma was quite the miracle.
      so looking forward to connecting with blogging from the heart- incredible group of people!
      p.s.- your dog is about the cutest wiener dog EVER. great photos on your blog.

  3. Losing our sweet old Rusty was one of the saddest days of my life, but we had 15 years with him as well, and I’m still thankful for them. The thing that surprised me was that although it might be a less socially accepted or acknowledged form of grief…I grieved as hard for him as I would for a human friend. Hang in there. It sounds like Emma had a wonderful life with you.

    • Thank you so much- the depth of grief is as large as the capacity to love, and we love our companion animals immensely. You’re so right about the gratitude for all the years and every moment- so many treasured memories.

  4. What a beautiful homage to Emma…I don’t even want to think about the day that I have to say goodbye to either of our boys. I doubt that I will be in any condition to share my broken heart with anyone let alone the rest of the world. Thank you for sharing your love with us all and I am sure that Emma is disembowelling stuffed toys wherever the spirits of good friends go.

    • I love that image of Emma ripping apart stuffed toys for eternity! I’m fortunate to have 2 neighbor dogs who enjoy the basket of toys enough to keep them active. The emptiness is profound but also bittersweet- memories are a blessing.

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