She Had the Place, but the Timing Needed to be Right

While I was working at a plan to bring Kate together with Immy, Kate was completely caught up in her grief. She couldn't look forward, she kept looking back. If she looked beside her she would only see me. Everywhere she looked, she saw me. Every spare thought was me. Every free moment was spent looking for me; longing for me. She was inconsolable. This went on for days, weeks, months. You'll read about it in my book, "Jack McAfghan", how she finally was able to move beyond her grief.

I crossed over the Rainbow Bridge early on August 1st and six months later to the day, on February 1st, she was able to set my ashes free and to bring peace to both of us. April 1st, she finished writing our book.  It took her the next month to get it formatted and to learn Microsoft Word after having used it for 20 years and never knowing what it was capable of.

Somewhere during that time, her heart began to stir and she knew she was ready to love again. But not yet. She wasn't quite there. I had planted the desire for Afghan Hound in her heart, and all of a sudden she was looking at rescue sites.  Then one night she went to the Dogs For Sale sites.  She landed on PuppyFind and fell in love with a 9 month old Afghan Hound named "Dark Green Collar".  I know why she fell in love with her. I think for awhile she was looking for me in another dog and Dark Green Collar had the same color collar I always had but mostly the look in her eyes in the photo was the way I would look at Kate. The eyes are the windows and Dark Green Collar's eyes were the magnet. They were supposed to be. They were supposed to draw Kate to Montana.

Dark Green Collar  Photo Downloaded from
She wrote the breeder, Brian Wood of Shining Mountain Afghans, in Loma, Montana. She inquired about Dark Green Collar. Her siblings, Red Collar, Blue Collar and Light Green Collar were available too, but she only had eyes for the Dark Green girl. Brian was patient and helpful and they corresponded over several months. Brian's honesty, forthrightness, knowledge and inherent kindness made it easy for her to trust him but she just couldn't seem to move forward. At one point Brian laughed and said to her "Of course, if you wait long enough, someone else will get her."

Decision Point and Afghan Hounds


New Life Has Arrived

There is life after death, I can tell you this for certain and while she still cherishes the memory of me and continues to shed unexpected tears along the way, she has taken some steps to bring a new kind of love into her life. She will never know how much this particular dog needed her, but I do.

Miss Immy Montana
 One of the tasks I was given when I came across the Rainbow Bridge was to choose a dog so that I could be its Guardian Angel.  It was my mission to bring the two of them together. Somehow. Someway. Someday.  I didn't know how I would do it with Kate in Arizona and Immy in Montana, but I knew that with God's help, it would be done.

One Thing Always Leads to Another

As I made the choice, I looked at the Design of her life. One thing always leads to another and there is a selective process. She grew up with a pair of German Shepherds.

She loved her German Shepherds and she always loved collies. When she grew up and it was time to get her first dog, it was a German Shepherd-Collie mix.

The day came when I was born into a litter of pups that were said to be "Collie-Poos".  She thought it would be nice to have a low shed collie, but she didn't know that I had a significant amount of Afghan Hound in me that would make itself known in due time.

As I got older I really enjoyed playing with the smaller dogs at the dog park. One day she went online, saw a photo of Joey at VJ Ranch Rescue in Arizona and within a few days Joey joined our family. We always joked that he was an Afghan Terrier, he looked so much like me. 

Joey and Me (I'm on the Right ) 
After I crossed the Rainbow Bridge I knew that she would eventually want a bigger dog (but probably  not quite as big as me) and I just knew that she would eventually want an Afghan Hound. It's how everything was panning out. I learned that there are only about 500 Afghan Hounds born in the United States each year. I began searching for the right one. Meanwhile her friend Jane was sending her messages with Afghan Hounds who needed homes. "No," she would say, "I don't think I need a full blooded Afghan Hound." and she would cast them aside. Jane was planting seeds for me; for us. 


Dear Reader....

Dear Reader,

I don't profess to be something I'm not. I have not been an "author" for long. I have been a clinical social worker, geriatric care manager and hospice counselor for over 30 years. I grew up in the small town of Marcellus in Upstate New York. I went to Nazareth College of Rochester where I received a Bachelor's Degree in Social Work and later graduated from Syracuse University with my Master's Degree in Social Work. In 1995 I started a private geriatric care management business in Syracuse and in 2001 I opened a similar business in Sedona, Arizona. I have been writing creatively since I was old enough to hold a pencil in my hand.

With a few exceptions, those of us who have reached middle age would agree that SOMETHING HAPPENS in life that forces change in us. SOMETHING just doesn't work anymore. SOMETHING vital remains unsatisfied in our beings and as we move closer to the second half of life. If we are fortunate, SOMETHING rebellious inside of us can take hold and force us to change our lives.

Some people leave relationships that don't seem to satisfy. Some people get sick or just feel plain old(!) and are forced to change in order to survive and thrive. They alter the way they live through diet, exercise and environmental change. Some have been working excessively to finance their lives and to support the people in them. While we may be very good at what we do, something is still missing. When you get to be a certain age, an undeniable change takes place. It's time to shift gears. It's time to take a risk. It's time to take a chance on yourself.

I have a dozen books on the back burner waiting for me to finish them, but I have been so busy "living my life" that I never got around to getting it done. One day everything screeched to a halt when my beloved dog, Jack, went in for emergency surgery. Me, the woman who never had time for anything but work, spent a week caring for him in his demise. If you have ever been a caregiver, you know how intense life can be. If you have ever lost a loved one, you know that you can be overwhelmed by it for quite some time afterwards.

The day following Jack's death, my father also died, somewhat unexpectedly. It was a profound time of grief, of introspection, and of redefining what was important to me. When I finally began to heal from the loss, writing became my top priority. I spent many hours a day writing "Jack McAfghan."  It took the better part of six months, working almost constantly with words coming off the top of my head faster than I could write them down.

As I prepare for publication in the upcoming week, I find myself making other changes in my life. I created my domain name today. I was told I needed a 'branding plan' if I want to be an "author". I need a name for 'identity', so I spent all day building my personal blog. It is the site you are on right now. If you ever told me I would put my name Out There for the world to see I would have said you were crazy. I've always been a bit reserved. Until a few weeks ago I was planning on hiding behind "Jack McAfghan", crediting him for writing the book.

As I was creating the site you are looking at right now, I realized that what happens as we reach this age is that, if we're lucky, we will have the chance to discover who we are and what we love to do. If you don't already have a domain name of your own name, do me a favor and type Your Name Dot Com into Google and discover how it feels when you do it; when you see it. It's a unique feeling. It's you. It's the name you are known by on this planet.

In the six months since I lost Jack and my father and turned 54, my life has changed. My housing situation has changed. My budget has changed. Things have become much simpler. I tapered down my care management business and, while I didn't have many funds, what I did have was time. Time was the one thing I never had before and I've learned that it's the most precious commodity there is.

A shift has taken place, and now that Jack's book is officially written I am moving on to the other books and titles.  One, a story of the growth that comes with unrequited love. Another, a tale of a man with Alzheimer's who stays the course and proves that there is more going on in a "demented" brain than meets the eye. I have short stories galore from living life with people living life and loving them all. I am not sure what will happen with the stories -- if they will become books or if they will remain articles and short stories but I promise this: they will be put onto paper and into the public because all the people I write about have something to teach.

Please stay tuned and, by the way, if you have a story to tell and if you have time, put it onto paper and make it public. Join me in sharing the lessons you have learned to help others gain perspective in their lives.

Life is the school and love is the lesson and there's no point in living if you don't learn and if you don't love. I learned that from Jack.


New Life

After she lost me she was devastated (you know how it goes when a dog and their person are soulmates). It took the first six months for her to get a grip on herself in her life without me. At exactly the six month mark, she scattered my ashes to the wind. 
"Fly free Little Boy, Fly Free!" she said as they were carried away from her on the breeze. 

 It was sometime in the next week or so that she started looking at rescue sites. She was making a point of not looking for me, but she knew what worked before and she was really trying to re-create that. Of course she kept coming up short. She can't recreate anything. It's time for new lessons. 

One night she extended her search to which is a site for breeders to list puppies.  She was half-hearted. She never imagined buying a puppy. She always planned on rescuing one. After all, that's what she'd always done and we all tend to do what we've always done. 


'I Have Another Pet but All I Do is Think of You'

Someone asked, "When... When will the crying end? When will the grieving end?  When will I look at my new pet and not just miss the one I used to have?"

Believe me when I tell you this: It will just take a little time and you will one day find that all your loves have merged together. You will be surprised because you find yourself laughing or smiling over a memory and that's when you will know that your tears will soon subside. We who have passed want you to be free to love again... and to be happy happy happy when you are reminded of us! You'll get there, you'll see, and it will be sweet and beautiful with a few sentimental tears now and again for all the loves you have had.

Jack and Joey.  Joey was the "BackUp Plan"



You're gone.

Just another case of
Not getting what I thought I wanted.

Instead, I'll get what I'm supposed to have
Because the Powers That Be
Can make much better decisions for me
Than I can.

from the book, "One Heart's Journey" 


Message from Kate in Response to Why. Why Keep "Jack" Going?

Out of our deepest loss comes our greatest growth.
My mixed breed Afghan Hound, Jack, crossed over the Rainbow August 1, 2014. He is the dog in the photo below. Despite my professional career in social work and hospice, it took me a very long time to grieve the loss of him and I still find myself in tears now and again. 

He had a Facebook page long before he passed and, despite my resistance, his fans wanted me to keep it going. I have since published his book ("Jack McAfghan") and have collected many original posts like the one below.  I sincerely want to share with those who may need Jack's messages. There is no joy in keeping it all to myself. I need your messages too. We are all at various stages of healing and, while we do eventually heal, we never truly get over the loss of someone we have loved like this.

Book 1 is Published and There's a Lot More To Do

JACK McAFGHAN is now up and published. The night my beloved dog Jack died, it interrupted everything in my life. My father died the following day. As I learned to live with the losses, I put everything else in my life on hold, including a book that had taken many years to write. My grief took priority. It took hold of me and it wouldn't let go...until I did something with it.

Over five years ago I began writing a story of unrequited love. It is the true story of my life, exposed. I tried to learn as much as I could about the man I loved but in the long run, I really only learned about myself. In my upcoming book "It's All About You," I share glimpses into the innocent, and sometimes ignorant, woman I was as I tried to make him everything to me. I learned that we all do this to an extent, in our desperation to have the love we think we want. We can put a great deal of energy into it and creatively pull out all the stops, to make something happen. 

When something is meant to happen, it will happen easily. Love cannot be forced. Love cannot come at the wrong time. The right person cannot come into your life if you are in love with the wrong person. As I put the finishing touches on "Jack McAfghan", I pick up "It's All About You" and begin writing again. After all, I have also learned that an author cannot write or finish a book until it's the right time to do it.

My beloved Jack has been gone for less than a year but, as I return to the book I was writing before he left, I find that I am a different kind of author. I am a different person. I am much more authentic. I have learned that there is only one space after a sentence, not two! We grow through our losses and we become much more than we ever were before. 

Jack and Me

It almost makes it worth losing him to have gained this. Anyone who has ever loved an animal will love JACK McAFGHAN. Anyone who has ever pursued a man or a woman will identify with "It's All About You".  Life is the school and love is the lesson. It's all about all of us really. We are all here together and we are all learning the same lessons.  We are all learning to love. 

Why Did Kate Write My Book? She'll Tell You Why.

Kate & Me
I rescued Jack at the age of 12 weeks and had the privilege of training him and shaping him into the dog he was destined to be. We started with Obedience, moved into Agility, pressed forward as an uncertified therapy dog. We worked for hospice and Jack spread joy everywhere he went. They say a therapy dog brings much healing and love, but we were one dog and one master and we were the ones who were loved; we had the love of thousands. Jack and I worked the world together side by side until one fateful day in 2014 when they found a mass that needed to be removed. Four days later, when Jack died on our kitchen floor, the real magic began. I was grieving so much that I couldn't hear him. I couldn't see him. He continually sent me messages from Heaven. A lightning bolt came out of a blue sky. Birds and butterflies would land on me or dive bomb me. He sent these messages when I was grieving; when I was crying. I could not listen. I could not be quiet. All I could do was grieve and grieve. 

One day a friend helped me to realize that I was still clinging to Jack. In all my work with hospice and teaching people to let go, I was still hanging on.  Exactly six months from the day he died, I scattered his ashes into the air on our favorite wilderness trail. I set him free and set myself free. I had identified so much as being "Jack's Mom" and then when I lost him I began to identify as "Death's Victim". Victim no more, it was time for me to recreate my life without Jack, without being a victim of anything. 

One night when I wrote in my journal, Jack's words came out of my pen. They were in the first "person" and they spoke truth and spoke it in a way that commanded me to listen. They commanded me to write. He was always the more outgoing of the two of us. He would always pulled me forward to meet new people and to interact in new ways with the community. He pulled me forward this particular night because he started something that would not stop. He helped me to write a book called "JACK McAFGHAN" and he comforted me through the process of writing it. He wanted me to write it, not only to work through my own grief, but to comfort, inspire and support others who go through their own grief. 

In honor of Jack I wanted to share his story with others who need to believe that love never ends and that life goes on long beyond one's earthly death.  Jack will tell you: "I am not dead. I am awake.... You want me to wake up but in my death I did wake up and I saw you were still sleeping." Love never dies.



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