Of Dogs and the Afterlife
Within a week of the death of our much-loved dog, Kody, my wife and son had dreams of him. Susan dreamed of seeing Kody in different rooms of the house. Noah would see him lying on the floor, much as he did in the weeks leading up to his death by lymphoma. In his dreams, Noah would try to take a picture of Kody using his phone, but no image would register on the screen. When he tried to pet him there was no physical object there to pet.
Following death, it is not uncommon for a person — or pet — to pay a visit to the people that he or she cared about while alive. In both of these dreams Kody’s presence was visually perceived. In Noah’s dream conventional and empirical means of verification proved fruitless. As we might expect of a spirit, Kody was sensed through unconscious perception, but not through physical/mechanical means. He couldn’t be photographed and he couldn’t be touched. (Why would the unconscious add these specific details to the dream if not to make this point regarding his spiritual essence?)
Sometimes the spirits of the deceased want to remain with those they love and the places they have come to call home. On the other hand, some may stick around for a time until their survivors are emotionally ready to accept their absence and the deceased’s need to move on. In other situations, it is possible that the spirits may not really understand that they are “dead,” and that their home is now in another realm. This may have been the situation with Kody, for in the dreams he was inhabiting the home space much as he had before his death. He did not give the impression of moving on or of saying goodbye.
Following a dream of this kind, it can be helpful to return to the dream space with your waking mind and dialogue with your pet or other loved one. Say whatever you might want to say, and be open to any responses from them that spontaneously come forth. If you feel it appropriate, you may need to inform them that they are no longer of this earth, that their body has died, and that their spirit is called — or will soon be called — elsewhere. With Kody, I imagined taking him to a forest meadow we used to go to when he was younger. I imagined his siblings and other dogs there. I gave him a final hug goodbye and told him I would see him again someday. I imagined him, tentatively at first, joining his dog family, and then frolicking in the meadow and chasing rabbits, like any good dog should.
And then I bawled my eyes out.
About a week later my wife had another dream of Kody. In the dream she was driving her car and was passed by another car that seemed to be headed towards the airport. In this car was a pet carrier and in the pet carrier was Kody. She tried to take a photo of him with her cell phone but no picture would register. I thought to myself: “I take him to a nice meadow, reunite him with all his siblings, and he books a trip to Hawaii!!” Smart dog.
For more info, contact Dr. Andy Drymalski, Reno and Carson City psychologist at phone number (775) 786-3818, or www.renocarsonpsychologist.com. Enjoy his blog at Jungstop.com.