The movie, “A Dog’s Purpose” suggests that they do. At the beginning of the movie, a voice is heard asking all the questions most of us ask such as “What is the meaning of life?” As this voice is heard, the blurry, swirling background morphs into a pile of puppies vying for real estate and a meal beside their mother’s tummy. Cute. Oh, it’s a puppy asking those questions one realizes as the voice continues, giving us a narrative of what it’s like to be a dog…until the dog’s demise and return to the same bubbled, swirling background. More questions. More diving into a world of puppies grappling with competition for a nipple, and then the story of the dog’s life, the quest for answers. Though repetitive, we get the point: dogs reincarnate, and if lucky, return some day to the loveable original owner for a seemingly fairytale ending. Or is it a fairytale?
Have you grieved over a pet and found, one day, another one that seemed eerily like the one you lost? I have. I had a Jack Russell Terrier named Mitzi who ruled my life (okay, I used to call her my Jack Russell Terrorist). Mitzi was feisty, adorable and vying constantly for the title of “Center of My Life,” (alas, my son won). However, when my son left for college, she was it, and I mean IT. She demanded all my attention, through her constant barking, her playful antics, her necessity to be on my body at all times when it wasn’t moving, and then she was gone. I was devastated. I cried every day for a good year, maybe two. Then I had the dream: I’m at my kitchen window doing dishes; the window looks out onto the backyard. I see a large hole in the lawn, like a cellar there with a light on in the darkness below. I see Mitzi running around the backyard (in her Jack Russell body). I go out the sliding glass doors of the living room and she morphs into a larger dog. I see white hair with liver-colored spots or patches, longish hair on her flanks as she stands up on her hind legs and places her front paws on my shoulders. She says, “Can I be with you? Will you take care of me?” I melt inside at the words and say, “Yes!” She backs down to the ground and morphs into her Jack Russell body and runs back and down into the hole. Oh, so that’s where you’ve been these past six months, I say to myself. And I wake up.
I knew she would come back some day after that dream. I knew she had talked to me. I knew I would recognize her when she arrived—I didn’t know how, but I knew the circumstances would be special, so unusual I would know Spirit was at work, like someone throwing an animal into my arms. What I didn’t know is she would come back as a cat!
A little more than two years later, after I had moved far away from my house in Southern California, my former life, I gathered up some girlfriends to go to a pet adoption center in town that doubled as a thrift shop on the pretext I needed some outdoor cats to chase after my abundant crop of gophers. I was saddened to find no cats in the center, they had all been adopted, but as I approached my car to take my friends back home a car roared up beside me and a guy in the passenger seat shouted, “Hey lady, are you looking for a cat?” I turned to him and said yes and he asked me, “Would you take a kitten?” I hesitated, but asked that I see her first.
The moment I laid eyes on her I knew that was it, I was hooked. It was the look in her eyes. THAT look—Mitzi’s look. I took her home and never, ever, ever missed Mitzi the dog again. She was a Siamese mix, white hair with liver-colored spots and stripes, and yes, she demands all my attention, again. I call her Mimi.
What I haven’t yet told you about Mitzi, is that I saw her, in the afterlife, before she came into being here on Earth as a cat. After I had that dream. I was missing her terribly, and in my daily meditation that took me up into the other realm, I was shown her. She was by a fence, under a tree, sandwiched between the two spiritual guides I know—as a beautiful white horse, a stallion in fact! I heard the elder of the two spirits say, “Here she is. Here’s your Mitzi.” I ran up to her, nuzzled her and held her tightly. It figured, she’d be a stallion (gender is not fixed)! I realized, all that time in her Jack Russell body, she was the spirit of a horse! I was able to visit her daily for about a week and then I was told she wanted to be on her own for a while. Though sad, I understood. She had her life, too.
I tell you this part of the story because what was depicted as the “in-between time” in the movie where the background is all bubbled and swirly is not true. Animals have lives in the afterlife as much as we do. They may choose to stay in animal form, or they may choose to go back into human form when they pass. All are souls, living out their lives in this dimension, to gain the experiences they intended to grow as souls. Their time with us is just as important as our time with them. Use it wisely!