You know the saying. The one that goes, "everything happens for a reason," and the ten thousand other iterations of the same idea...
I've just completed my yoga teacher training, and this is something I've wanted to do for well over a decade now. I'm trying to remember back to when I first started yoga, and I believe it to be 1997 or 1998. It started as a practice at home, creating sequences and flows from a couple of books I had bought. I also went to some classes at the YMCA in Mississauga - the one near Square One. These were the early days.
From the first moment I welcomed yoga into my life, it was "right" for me. Somehow, the practice of matching my movements with my breath, of creating boundless freedom in what appeared to be static poses, of creating unity between my mind and body -- this all resonated deeply with me, and I dreamed of one day teaching yoga, helping guide others along this beautiful path.
In 2002, we moved into our first house, and I was excited that it had a "nook," on the second floor. A sunbathed swatch of floor, a promise of space sacred to my practice. And while I did practice there, it was never as intently as I'd imagined it. Life had other plans for me for a little bit.
Like many people who buy houses, we were buying ours to allow our little family to grow. We were expecting. A puppy.
Oh sure, the apartments were grand for us and the cats - lots of space to chase tinfoil balls down the hallways for my Lucy, and even some balcony space for fresh air... but a dog. This called for bigger vistas, this called for "PROPERTY."
So, on April 6, 2002, we brought home a chocolate lab puppy who we named Ender. (yes, after "That" Ender, Thank you Orson Scott Card)
I need to explain that choosing a puppy from a writhing, wriggling pile of 10 puppies, all chocolate, all doppelgangers to the untrained eye, this is a tricky business indeed! I had cuddled and snuggled so many of them that I couldn't keep track of who was who. Luckily, I met a puppy who solved this problem for me. While I was snuggling a particular pup, the breeder pointed to my legs and said, "Looks like you've been chosen!"
There he was, lying along my shins, fast asleep. He knew even then that he was meant to come into my life, and he fell asleep on my outstretched legs, confident that we'd come around to his way of thinking. So we did.
The litter was born on February 16, and all the pups had valentine inspired names. I learned about half an hour later that the pup who had chosen us was registered as "Big Heart."
Ender spent his life amazing us, in ways both subtle and huge. Since this is just a blog post, I don't have the space to tell you here how incredible he was. I knew from early on that I would never know another dog like him, that I'd never have another relationship like that again.
He seemed to understand things, even before we could try to articulate them to him. We called it "Enderstanding" things, but I also likened it to "grokking," a la Heinlein in "Stranger in a Strange Land." He was sensitive and astute, and he could figure out a situation in a heartbeat. He was more talented in this way than many people I've known.
So, I spent the 12 years of his life being a Brown Dog Mamma, he was very much a Mamma's Boy. He taught us so much, pushed us to explore and seek adventures, and encouraged us to try and grok the world the way he did.
Ender passed away on June 8, 2014. It was fairly sudden, within a matter of four hours a normal day became his final moments. I remember reeling in shock as he was given the injection, not ready for it myself, but realizing that his time here with us had passed. I sobbed, hugging him, and thanking him over and over for the life he had given us.
Very soon after his passing, while struggling with some internal questions of my own and a looming 40th birthday, I decided to do the thing that blossomed in my head even before he came into my life. I would finally get my yoga teacher training.
Towards the end of his life, I realized that Ender was a Boddhisattva - someone who has escaped the bonds of reincarnation, but chooses to come back to help someone. The one I knew as Ender, also known as Big Heart, came into my life to guide me to the exact moment I'd decide to pursue my yogic path.
It was during yoga nidra one day in training that this came to me yet again. The teacher had guided us to an imaginary room, where we were to lie down, and see our spirit guides at our head, with their hands on our head. I had one human spirit guide, my Grandma Pat, and she had her hands on my head, just as described. I also had one canine spirit guide, my Ender, who lacking hands to lay on my head, gave me a big, wet, sloppy kiss instead.
On the day that Ender died, we still had to take Shelby out for a walk. Don said to me at the time, "Let's go be the people Ender made us."
They say everything happens for a reason. They also say that yogis don't believe in coincidence. Throughout my practice and my path, I will always honour Ender as one of my guides.