GUEST CONTRIBUTOR: "Things Come in Threes" by Laurie Eberle O'Brien


It is often said that sometimes things come in three's. I have witnessed that to happen, but did not pay that close of attention to it until I realized it has happened to me. As I reflect back to 15 years ago, it is hard to believe that it has been that long since we welcomed our first dog into our home. I grew up with them off and on, but did not have much of an interest in having one of my own. Fast forward to 2001 when our son was 12 and we had already been married for 20 years. 

I will always remember when we told him that we were "just going to look." Ha! Not only did we bring home an 8 week old, five pound bundle of fur, we brought home something that we had no idea could bring us so much joy and love for almost 15 years. 

Wrigley, you defined love. Pure and simple. There will NEVER be another you. You taught our family more than I can ever express to anyone. Your sweet disposition was infectious. The fun we had with you, the laughs you gave us, and the joy you brought to our lives cannot be measured in words. 

Your last couple of years were a challenge, as you battled seizures,Cushing's disease, and a myriad of other issues. But you refused to give up. You fought some very big battles being the warrior that you were. But in May, I knew you were getting tired and that's when we had to face the hardest decision of our lives. We did not want to let you cross. Your eyes were what told us. You were ready and as you passed in my arms, it was the hardest day of my life. My heart will never be the same. 

The house was too quiet. I did not want to go through that pain again, but God knew better. He knew our hearts. We decided to rescue this time. Dexter was your twin, Wrigley. But the difference was he was 9 and had a hard hard life. We were going turn that around for how ever many years he had left. We fell hard. I was thinking he would feel right at home....right away. How was I to know it would not be so quick? For 30 hours he did not move off of the couch, did not eat or drink and cowered as we approached him, even as lovingly as we did.
I finally got him to go for a walk at midnight. It had stormed that night and he clearly was apprehensive of our walk, sitting down every few steps as if he was asking permission. We were so ready to love him and teach him that our love for him would be as unconditional as his would be for us. I came back into the garage and as I praised him and unleashed him, he bolted. He grew wings as he ran, and I did not have those same wings to catch him. We searched but it was an unusually black night and it was as though he disappeared. He was found the next morning less than a quarter of a mile from home. He had been killed by a car. If only he would have trusted us. But why should he have? No one ever had given him reason to trust so he took the opportunity to run, and run he did. The wound was ripped right open again. The guilt has not left me. 

It was right after that I saw Jack's book offer on FB. I read it in almost one sitting and literally soaked paper towels as I read. What an incredible couple of hours that was. It touched me more than any dog book I have ever read and I read ALOT. Wow wow wow is almost all I could say in my review on Amazon. What an incredible way to tell a story full of so much love and wisdom, that it's almost palatable. What a find!!!! Coincidence? Fate? Luck?

Well, shortly after that I got a message that a friend of mine's sister runs a pet store and had a customer looking for a home for her daughter's dog. She could not care for her any more. She wasn't good with children (as they teased her) and she needed an adult home. Would I be interested? I did not give myself time to think about it and I know that Wrigley and Dexter had a hand in this. 

We welcomed her into our home in mid September and have never looked back. A white fluff ball whom we affectionally renamed "Kate." Our first and only "daughter" and little sister to our boys. I have to think that we have to crawl before we walk, that God promises a safe landing, but not always a calm passage. We are loving her more and more every day. Is it with the intensity that we did for Wrigley? No, and it may never be. Those are big "paws" to fill, but we don't expect her to fill them. They are too big for her and she doesn't have to for us anyway. 

So as we begin to heal, we want to believe that Kate was brought into our lives to help us do just that. She sure has her own little personality and sweetness about her. One thing we do know is that Wrigley taught us more about life than most people can even begin to teach us. He knows we have plenty of room in our hearts and so many more of his brothers and sisters need loving homes for the rest of their matter how limited those may be.

We hope and pray that this "third," as it has come in threes, is with us for many years to come. We do this in honor of our boys, never in place of them.

Thank you to both Kate's (yes, she was named after our one and only!) for showing us that we can open our hearts and love again. There is no reason not to.

Story submitted by Laurie Eberle O'Brien

Author Kate McGahan (L) and guest contributor Laurie O'Brien (R) in September 2015
Poco Diablo Resort, Sedona Arizona 

You Can't Replace Me, You Don't Have To

Dear Kate, 
You can't replace me, but you can bring in a new kind of love. 
You've had her now for several months. 
You see her healing. 
You feel yourself healing too. 
It has taken this long for you to trust each other. 
She no longer runs from you. 
She now comes to you seeking love... 
Seeking the new level of love that I taught you to give. 
You are healed enough now, to give her everything and more. 
But I know. I know you still love me. 
I still see you cry when you don't think you have everything...
But you do. You have her. You have me. 
You do have everything.



Fear is an Illusion that Cannot Exist When you Live in the Moment

Excerpt from "Jack McAfghan: Reflections on Life with my Master" Chapter 31. 

She had a hard time accepting that we were very different from each other emotionally. While a dog has feelings to an extent, most of us don’t really worry about things like people do. We don’t fear anything emotional. We don’t fear the future. We live in the moment where there is no fear. We have nothing in the future to prepare for. We only experience fear when something physically threatens us or startles us. Once in a great while we can experience a form of fear when we pick up on the emotions of our loved ones and on some level we react to the fear that they feel.

It might seem like we have deep feelings because we look guilty or ashamed when we are caught getting into trouble. We don’t really feel guilty because deep down inside we know we are innocent. We live from love and we do the best that we can. When we seem guilty, we have just learned to give you the reaction we know you want from us. You want us to feel guilty? Okay, we can show you how guilty we are. As soon as we do, you stop yelling at us because you then believe that we understand our error (we usually don’t). You might then feel sorry for us because you “made” us feel guilty and then you cover us with your beautiful forgiveness. The game is totally worth it for us to get your love and your forgiveness.

Jack 🐾


....But I Didn't Want Her to be Alone When She Died...

So many of you feel sad, bad, angry or guilty that you were not at your friend's side as they passed from this life to the Heaven at Rainbow Bridge.  "But I didn't get to say goodbye!" There are many people who feel like they want or need to control certain circumstances in their lives; circumstances that are really beyond their control.  Then when their pet dies while they are at work or at play or asleep or in the next room, they blame themselves because they have the impression that they could have controlled the outcome If Only They Did This or If Only They Did That. There was NOTHING you could have done to change the outcome and it's not just about Fate or Destiny.  

Many people feel bad that they were not with their pet at the moment it passed, but this is often because the pet did not want its Beloved to witness the final moments which would be imprinted on the mind and take away from the joy of the memories shared. 

"Jack McAfghan" is available at Worldwide
Your pet knows what's going on. When we live a long life or if we are sick and have time to process, we have an element of control around the Where, the When and the How. Just like people do. It is not always the case when there is an accident or a sudden trauma. When something immediate and unexpected happens, it happens so fast that we end up at Rainbow Bridge and we hardly know what hit us. Some of us need to go through the learning and leave consciously.... and others hang suspended between the worlds.... sick or in pain for a long time. In this case we do not leave of our own accord because our earthly master has something to learn about Letting Go and about making important and compassionate decisions.

There are reasons for everything. It is all about learning.  It's about us learning and it's about you learning.  When we get to Heaven/Rainbow Bridge, we know everything there is to know. Every life we've ever lived. Everyone we've ever loved. There is much to know there, but there is not too much to learn there. That's why learn so many things when we are on earth with each other.  Life is the school, love is the lesson.  
Rainbow Bridge 
Heaven is the reward. 

The Anniversary of the Cover of our Book

She used to focus on the anniversary of my passing, the 1st of every month. This year on the 2nd of December (15 months after I crossed Rainbow Bridge), she realized that she had forgotten to notice the 1st of December. It had come and gone. She felt so guilty until she realized that it was really a good thing. It was a sign of her healing. Oh I was so happy!

One year ago today, she was still grieving bitterly. It had been six months. She walked our trail, lost in her tears. Today she is going back up on the trail to honor the day when she made peace with her grief. To honor the day that her love for me became stronger than her grief over me. 

In Honor of this Anniversary, we are sharing Chapter 86 of 
"Jack McAfghan: Reflections on Life with my Master" by Kate McGahan in it's entirety. 
It was my gift to Kate and it is now our gift to you. 

We are not religious and this is far from being a religious book, but over time things happen that urge us to realize that, beyond a doubt, there is something much bigger than ourselves that is spiritual 
that oversees the design of our life here on earth.  

Jack McAfghan: Reflections on Life with my Master
Chapter 86

It was the first time she hiked the east part of the trail since we walked it together. She went up and up and up to the high places we used to go. She took a breather at the shady little halfway place where we used to stop to rest. She sat down on our big flat rock, looking at the view and picturing me there.

Do you see how you cry when you replay
The memories of my week of pain?
Emotional scars take longer to heal,
Shrapnel fragments cut and hurt!
They live on only in your mind.
Don’t think of those things any more.
That is not who I was.
That is not who I am.
Don’t think of me in pain, I’m not!
Pain and suffering just exist
When you have a body.
Pain is just your messenger,
Telling you it’s time for change.
I had to suffer for had I not,
You’d be clinging to me still,
Wanting me to stay with you.
It hurts when someone won’t let go.
Not only do we have to leave,
We must tear ourselves from one who clings.

Jack…is that you?
She heard me! Oh, She heard me! She spoke to me, her heart to mine!
It is! It is! Yes, it’s me! It’s me!
Oh Jack, she said, I’ve missed you so but I’ve learned I need to let you go. I thought I let you go that night. I didn’t realize I’ve been hanging on. I’m sorry, Jack. I just wanted to do the right thing.
You are. You do. You will. You always do the right thing. You always do the loving thing.
“Is it time for me to scatter your ashes?” she asked me out loud.
Yes, scatter the ashes. They are not who I am. They only represent my death. Don’t think of me as breathing my last breath. Don’t think of how our beautiful life changed overnight. Just think of the gift of our beautiful life.
“You’re so right. We had such a beautiful life.”
Don’t think of Jesus on the cross. This is not how he wants to be remembered either. Set him free from the cross in your mind so he also can rise from your dead. He is not dead! I am not dead! Set us free! By setting us free you set yourself free. Life goes far beyond what you can see or even imagine.
She was crying again, this time because she understood completely that it was time to close this chapter of her grief. She would no longer be death’s victim. She knew it was finally time; it was time to let me go.

Suddenly the sound of a great gust of wind approached her from behind. A big cloud of black birds, twenty or more, flew within inches of her head. The group vibration was strong. As she recovered from that, one final bird brought up the rear, skimming the space over her left shoulder. The experience gave her goose bumps much like the ones she sustained when the hummingbird moth visited her on the other trail that day.

Have you noticed that every time you cry something comes and interrupts your tears? That is me. I am unhappy to be the source of your grief. I want you to be happy when you think of me.
“How,” she asked, “how do I get over you?”

When you remain attached to me,
You keep the chain around my neck.
Please free me from your leash of love.
By doing so, you free yourself.
Remember how I was in life,
Always right beside you?
Always at your feet!
You did not have a leash on me.
There was no fence. I was not chained.
I stayed close by because I loved.
Don’t ever question where I’ve gone or
Where I am when you can’t see.
There’s nowhere else I am and
There’s nowhere else I’d rather be.

She took a deep breath. “I love you, Jack. I now know what I have to do.”

She resumed walking the trail towards home. The crowd of birds still gathered ahead in the orchard of trees at the curve of the trail. As she rounded the curve, a great view of the western sky opened up. Painted into the setting sun was a cross as straight as could be. It took her breath away. She pulled out her phone and took a picture of it and that picture became the cover of this book.

c. 2015 by Kate McGahan

Yes, Joey was on the trail that day.  He will tell his own story some day. 

I'll See You At Rainbow Bridge

Kate made a video the other night and when she learns something I learn something too. After all, we are always connected. So last night I made a video too!  You can view it here. It's just a few minutes long and it gives you a unique view of Rainbow Bridge.


Stewie -- Two Paws at Rainbow Bridge, Two Paws With You

Dear Jack, 
I miss my Stewie so much, but I know he's with me. It is just really hard. I yearn to feel him in my arms. His loss was tremendously heartbreaking and sudden. He was diagnosed with immune-mediated hemolytic anemia August 3, 2014 and passed on September 4, 2014. I tried everything I could to save him. He was in intensive care for a month. He was put on immunosuppressants, received 7 blood transfusions and was almost "well" until he had a rare blood clot in his intestines. He had to have 6 surgeries to repair it. The vets did everything, and again thought he'd survive, but his heart suddenly stopped one morning. He was revived, but never awoke and was put on a ventilator until I had to make the hardest decision ever to let him go to Rainbow Bridge. My dad and I were with him, but I feel so much grief and guilt. Did I not do enough? Or did I put him through too much? His vet bills were astronomical. Still, he's worth it. I just wish it was enough to have saved him. It kills me. Life is so different now. I miss him. He was my world. My new boys sure do help, but Stewie is the love of my life and my special boy.

Dear Kristi, 

First I must say this. You have done things with grace. I am very proud of how you are handling your grief and how you handled all the events that led up to Stewie's honorable crossing at Rainbow Bridge. You extended yourself for him at great financial, physical and emotional expense. 

The fact is that while you had hope for Stewie's survival, you did everything possible to make that happen. If anyone could have given him what he needed to survive, it was your love for him and your faith. The fact is -- and I hope you are ready to hear this -- the reason he revived but did not come around that final day was because he already had two paws at Rainbow Bridge. Two paws remained in his life with you. He knew you didn't want him to leave and yet he knew that you knew in your heart that he had to go. He needed to be free. He would not leave you on his own -- he made you come to that realization by yourself because he knew how a big decision like this forces you to grow and become more than you ever were before. He knew this would be the ultimate act of love and selflessness; to let him go when you wanted him to stay. When we have two paws at the edge of the Rainbow, it is much easier for us to move forward than to back up and go the other way. You did him a service and there is nothing at all to feel guilty about because you did this for him and not for you. 

As Kate will tell you, she did not find peace anywhere in her life until the six month mark. Not to say you will have to wait that long -- or that it will come that soon, but if you stay on the path you are on -- with the amazing attitude you have of being able to see the gifts in your life and the gifts that Stewie brought to you in this life, in his illness and in his departure -- you will come out of this better than you ever were before. 

Stewie runs free with the rest of us at Rainbow Bridge, although every now and again I see him pause at the gate. I know why. He keeps a lookout there for you. He will never forget you. He will always love you. He is right there beside you -- he can be in both places at once now and he very much enjoyed the turkey droppings beneath your table. He is right there beside you right now to help you dry your tears. 

Never stop believing in him. Stay with our group. Read my book as soon as you are able. 


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