Laki, Heaven's Sweet, Smiling, Shining Angel

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Give sorrow words;
the grief that does not speak
Whispers the o'erfraught heart
and bids it break.
-- Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act IV, Scene 3

A few years ago, I discovered the Internet as a fount of information, but it was not until our puppy came into our lives that I learned that the Internet is also an Information Superhighway for Dogs. My husband had done a Internet search on dog information, and while perusing a web page that he had bookmarked, I was led circuitously through a series of links to a dog-related e-mail list.

I joined the list and "lurked" for some time, thoroughly enjoying the wealth of information, wisdom, and anecdotes being shared openly and willingly by like-minded, dog-loving folks.  I was content to be a lurker, but it was a post by a lister who was grieving the loss of her dog, Lucky, that elicited the writing and posting of my first post to the list.



Subject: Rainbow Bridge
Date: Fri, 02 Oct 1998

A lister wrote:
> > Hi,

> Sunday night was a very sad night for me and my husband as our little 10 week old male puppy had a accidental death and if tears could bring him back he would be back and live forever....my granddaughter named him, Lucky.

I replied back to the grieving lister:

Aloha to you and others in pet loss grief,

How my heart goes out to you. If there is comfort in commiserating, I hope my sharing might help you, as yours helped me.

Just as Lucky was your special boy, Laki, which means "Lucky" in the Hawaiian language, was my special girl, my kissy-face lovebug, and I, hers. 

Laki was a one in a gigazillion friend, companion, buddy, and Earth angel.

We were the perfect match. As much love and affection as she had to give, I welcomed; as much as I had, she welcomed. We were copacetic.

Happy & Laki, hamming it for the camera.  

Just as Lucky was your special boy, Laki, which means "Lucky" in the Hawaiian language, was my special girl, my kissy-face lovebug, and I, hers. Laki was a one in a gigazillion friend, companion, buddy, and Earth angel.

Neither of us show girls, we'd been blessed with our ample share of faults (breeders' lingo for imperfections); mine, too numerous and embarrassing to list, and hers: erect prick ears of the "Yoda" variety, a voracious appetite, resulting in her tipping the scales at an oversized 22 pounds, over-protective with dogs bigger than she, an ear-cringing, LOUD bark, a sandpapery, abrasive tongue that threatened to exfoliate our cheeks, and with front legs that bowed like two parentheses.
Yes, I did say blessed with faults. 

Because of them, her breeder, Mona, let her go as a companion pet, twelve years ago. Lucky for us! And we like to think, lucky for her. 

She was the quintessential couch potato. Her humans, my husband and I, would often find ourselves sitting on the floor as "Her Laki-ness" sprawled across the couch.

Never obtrusive, she'd wait patiently `til my husband bid me goodnight and rolled over for the night.
Then she'd hop up on the bed, snuggle her body as close to me as she could, sigh contentedly in her own inimitable way, and we'd fall asleep, leaning against each other, spine to spine, sharing one pillow.

>> How to Spend a Two-Dog Night

In the morning, she'd wait quietly for me to awaken, her head poised between her paws neatly placed side-by-side. 

As soon as she'd see my eyes open, she'd crawl close and gently lay her sweet head on my shoulder, looking deeply into my eyes with her soulful, brown Sheltie eyes that said, "I love you!". Laki, of the sultry eyes with the golden lashes.

We'd nuzzle. Mornings, so sweet.

I went to sleep, every night, in love, and awoke, every morning, in love. Laki helped me keep my faith in love and life, even when severely tested, because she herself was loving-kindness... The Aloha Spirit, personified… er, doggified.
This year, we were visited with uncharacteristic rain, high humidity and falling barometric pressures, which triggered my latent case of arthritis. 

Combined with overzealous gardening and years of repetitive stress syndrome at work, my right arm and shoulder became severely inflamed.

The onset of this disabling pain coincided with the beginning of our one-month vacation in July. In hindsight, it was a blessing in disguise. 

Without the usual 1001 distractions vying for my attention, my time was well-spent BEING with my husband and our dog-kids, Laki and Happy (Hau`oli in Hawaiian) at our weekend mountain home.

Our home in the mountains is named Heaven. When people inquire about our weekend plans, we say, "We're going up to Heaven!" It lives up to its name, as it is our Heaven on Earth, our most favorite place to be.

It was a "family vacation" at its best.  

Together, all four of us were taking long walks in the mountains, lazily floating on the water, and rusticating on the front porch swing, napping on the two-person (and two-dog) hammock, and visiting with human and dog friends in the neighborhood.

Life was at its most peaceful and content. We were living our Bliss.

Three weeks into our vacation, on a Friday, while romping on the floor, we discovered Laki's tumor, and immediately sought veterinary help. Surgery was scheduled for the following Monday.

The surgery was performed; the tumor, excised. We stayed at her side in the recovery room, waiting for the anesthesia to wear off. 

At the end of the workday, just as the veterinarian assistant came by to transfer Laki into a recovery crate, Laki made it out of anesthesia, but just barely. 

She weakly opened her eyes, recognized us and struggled to get out of the assistant's arms and into ours.

The kind assistant was reassuring, informing us that an overnight stay was routine for post-surgical monitoring. We were ever so politely being "schussed" out of the office.

On the way home, I fought off powerful impulses to turn around and bang on the door. Laki had never spent a night alone, ever. If we were away on trips, her sister, Happy, was always with her.

Sleep completely evaded me, and the evening turned into the dark night of the soul. With an afghan wrapped around me, I stepped outside for some fresh air.

The coolness of the mountain night air was invigoratingly bracing. The moon was peeking through the pines, its silvery light enough for me to go walking down the dark country road without a flashlight. 

I must have walked for miles.

The coolness of the mountain night air was invigoratingly bracing. The moon was peeking through the pines, its silvery light enough for me to go walking down the dark country road without a flashlight. I must have walked for miles.

In the silence of the night, I was able to focus my thoughts and bridge our physical separation. What I felt dismayed me: I was feeling Laki's suffering. She was barely clinging on to life, yet tenaciously fighting back to hold on.

When my husband awoke to an empty bed, he went looking for me. Finding me, he joined my walking vigil. We have never felt closer in our 24 years of marriage. Together, we prayed, and prayed, and prayed. Spent, we collapsed on the afghan that we spread over an alcoved corner of our front yard, under the pines, alongside the lilac bushes and in front of the front porch. 

Over the years, we had spent countless hours here as a family, with Happy and Laki, usually napping and occasionally defending us from reckless squirrels, while we indulged our pastimes of Hawaiian music listening and book reading.

Laying on the ground, we snuggled close and scanned the skies. 

At the 6000 foot elevation, our cabin was canopied with a crystal clear, midnight-blue mountain sky with millions of stars, brightly glittering in that rarefied atmosphere.

The same silent wish was wished upon every falling star: "Thy Will, not mine."

Attempting to sleep was futile, and as the sun rose, we drove down to the vet's and sat in the parking lot just to be physically closer to Laki.

When, finally, the front door was opened, we rushed in to learn that Laki had made it through the night!

We were elated and greatly relieved, and so was she. As happy as she was, try as she might, she could not get up.

The veterinarian informed us that it was best to keep Laki under observation in the office and wait until she was up and about on her own.

As she lay on the recovery table, Laki's eyes, barely opened, held mine firmly. They spoke with a calm eloquence, letting me know that she was at peace. We were heartened, and we happily whiled away the next three hours alongside her.

Between her naps, we gently brushed her, scratched her chest, nuzzled, and cooed endearments and encouragements.

During the hour that followed, however, Laki's breathing became labored. I asked my husband to get the veterinarian.

As I held her in my arms, Laki locked her eyes onto mine. With eyes full of love, she again communicated a sense of profound peace.

Gazing directly into her eyes, with as much love as I could convey to her, I silently communicated back:

"Laki, if it's too hard, as much as I want to hold on to you, I won't hold you back. I commend you to Thy Will.

We come here with a mission. When it is accomplished, we get to go Home. I once had a glimpse of Home, but my mission was not yet done and I reluctantly came back.

It was meant to be. Since that time, life here has been full of blessings. You have been one of the Biggest! I will always love you.

Laki, Home was BEAUTIFUL, truly Home, Sweet Home.

If your mission is done, Laki, and it's time for you to go Home, it's okay to let go..."

A second later, I watched her pupils dilate. Laki had let go.

I witnessed "a quickening" as her spirit left her body. I've searched for the words that would describe her Spirit's exit. This is the best that I've come up with, however inadequate:

…a microsecond of scintillating, squiggling energy that spiraled upward …

When my husband returned with the veterinarian in tow, I let them know that Laki was gone. The vet checked for vital signs and confirmed what we already knew. We thanked her, knowing that she had done her best to help Laki. Hugging, we all three cried together.

We brought Laki's body home. As my husband dug a deep hole in the flower bed, I wrapped Laki's body in soft, white cotton.

We returned her body back to the `âina (the land), laying her favorite dog biscuits and brush (how she did love being brushed!) alongside her body, then scattered plumeria blossoms and jerky treats, before filling her grave with garden soil.

Her grave is under the pines, next to the alcove in the yard where we lay the night before wishing on falling stars. Her "headstone" is garden statuary: a deer and her fawn.

After the burial, we let Happy out the front door. She headed straight to Laki's grave and lay down beside it.

Was this turn of events as stunning for her as it was for us?

 Just the day before, Laki was a vigorous dog, full of life.

Smiling her preciously sweet smile, Laki was the picture of sparkling health, bounding with joy to be going on her morning walk.

Little did any of us suspect that it would be our last walk together. Within 24 hours, our sweet, smiling Laki was ripped from our hearts and Happy's.

These are our last pictures,together. 

Happy, the feisty, independent soul, and Laki, the Velcro Lovebug, had grown up together, spending every hour of their days together.

When Happy began losing her hearing, Laki became her ears; when it was mealtime, Laki would bark loudly to get Happy's attention, then herd her to their bowls. Over-sized Laki became diminutive Happy's protectress, watching over her with a protective eye.

Our brave Spirits prevailed during those hours of farewell, but our human minds were left reeling in numbing disbelief; our hearts, in deep sorrow. 

We reminded ourselves that Happy's loss is even more profound.

This is months later, and there are days when the gaping void is overwhelming huge; the grief, abysmal and beyond words. As you said...if tears could bring them back...Laki would be back in a heartbeat and here for all eternity.

But that's not how it works...

And we struggle to accept Thy Will and set her free.


When despair threatens to devastate, we hold Happy close (she has become less independent and more affectionate) and remind ourselves how lucky we've been to have been blessed with Happy and Laki love for thirteen all-too-short years. 

I remember what Tennyson said, "Better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all." Yadda, yadda, yadda.

In hindsight, we now see that Laki's final act of love and consideration. Her last gift to us was her impeccable timing in taking her leave. She had valiantly fought to make it through the night, so we would bid her goodbye on July 28. She made sure that the saddest day of our lives did not coincide with our happiest, July 27, our wedding date.

Before your post here about the loss of your Lucky, I hadn't been ready to deal with our Laki's unexpected death with words. I was ready today to "give sorrow words."

Tonight, I will send my prayers upward for our lucky dogs; I pray that your Lucky, our Laki, and other Shelties and pets lost by those who are reading this will find each other to play, be with, and love each other as they await our return Home.

"You think that dogs will not be in Heaven?
I tell you, they will be there before any of us."
-- Robert Louis Stevenson (1850 - 1894)

Me ke aloha, Lei & Sheltie-kids:
Happy, age 13 & Laki's legacy, `Oli, age 6 months.
http://hawaiianlanguage.com sweetlei@hawaiianlanguage.com

P.S. Laki's legacy? Putting us in intimate touch with Aloha on a daily basis, Laki left us with a love overflowing. When I thought I couldn't open my broken heart to another, Laki was the conduit. She ensured our hearts' mending by leading us to another companion pup...but that's another story for another time.

>> August 2003:  Epilogue to Laki's Story


As you've just read, I poured my heart out, writing this through flowing tears. Feeling vulnerable, I hesitated posting something so personally painful (and long), but sent it off "on a wing and a prayer".

Unexpectedly, writing, then sharing this, has been a healing exercise.

Within hours, my Inbox was filled with email from listers who were tremendously supportive, kind, and understanding. I shall always be grateful to the outpouring of condolences and expressions of sympathy and empathy by these listers, as their words helped us to get through the most difficult time of our lives.

Aloha `Oe e Laki.
Farewell to Thee, Laki.

This website is our tribute to you,
our sweet, smiling Sheltie angel
waiting for us at the
Rainbow Bridge.



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For by
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© 1999