Wednesday, May 5, 2010


"Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole"
Roger Caras
"Dogs' lives are too short. Their only fault, really."
"You think I can keep her? What should I name her, Mom?" My daughter's excitement streamed through the phone. I sensed this "little decision" could be transformative. It had been years since daughter, a young adult, had actually asked for input let alone permission for anything. The little puppy had been abandoned in grandmother's front yard. Uncharacteristically, grandmother had let the dog in the house and soon after that, daughter visited. Who said there's no such thing as love at first sight? Immediately, daughter declared she wanted it and thus began the Cuchita saga. Cuchita was the name of daughter's favorite doll in early childhood and the dog was to fulfill the same role - devout companion.
Before you start to conjure images of a cute, cuddly, lovable, stress reducing, peace inflicting little bundle of canine joy, let me inform you that soon after that fateful day, daughter was once again on the phone asking if it was possible for a dog to be possessed and what exactly was the Tasmanian devil. I decided she exaggerated when she described the explosive amount of energy contained in this tiny dog - until the day I agreed to take care of it while daughter went away - no doubt suffering from exhaustion and seeking peace in an ashram.
Stillness was a condition totally foreign to Cuchita's being - unless it existed deep, deep in her subconscious. Until then, I had thought dogs needed more sleep than humans and therefore spent much of their time curled up in slumber. Not Cuchita. As my husband and I sat trying to watch some TV, Cuchita ran from sofa, to chair, to floor, to window sill, to sofa, to chair etc. It seemed as if she was the bullet in an invisible gun that shot her out every few seconds. She ignored our presence on the sofa completely and ran over us as if we were air.
Throughout her life, Cuchita or Cuchi as we "affectionately" called her (to the dismay of some of our friends who are offended by the symbols of language), was the ultimate model of independence, intelligence, assertiveness, boldness, strong will, self-love, genuine expression, and just being. Unlike our stereotype of the affectionate, submissive, adoring companion dog, she was true to her breed but more to her very own personality. She did nothing to win any one's affections, she disliked being stroked, she flunked obedience school and thus never learned to come, or lay down, or go as commanded. She was true to herself.
In spite of what many may consider as flaws, this was never true for daughter. She loves Cuchi and knows that Cuchi loves her and remains always faithful, caring and reliable. Cuchi did in fact effect a transformation within daughter, which led to an initiation of growth and maturity for which she remains forever grateful. And who doesn't love anyone who is a good influence on their children? I love Cuchi too. In my family we all do, no matter how mad she made us.
Cuchi was put to rest yesterday. She's raising hell in heaven now. She's that kind of angel - the kind that disturbs, shakes things up, brings up emotion -even rage - in order to help us be more in touch with who we are.
"All God's angels come to us disguised."
James Russell Lowell

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