Monday, January 17, 2011

The Loyalty of Leao

Innocently reading my email, I didn't expect to be emotionally affected this morning over black coffee. (I don't like black coffee but I ran out of my vegan almond milk.) I didn't expect such an innocuous looking email to affect me so much. I couldn't help it. My heart broke when I saw this photo and read the caption.

A dog, "Leao", sits for a second consecutive day, next to the grave of her owner, Cristina Maria Cesario Santana, who died in the week's catastrophic landslides in Brazil, at the cemetery in Teresopolis, near Rio de Janiero, on Jan. 15.  Courtesy of MSNBC 
My heart went out to Leao the dog. Perhaps Cristina Maria Cesario Santana was his whole world, his only family. Now she's buried under a mound of earth, never to be seen again. He won't ever get to be hugged or feel her loving touch anymore.

What are his thoughts as he sits there, waiting by her graveside? Does he know that she is gone forever from this physical existence? Or is he like us humans, knowing that our loved one is gone, yet we can't help but wish and pray that our beloved come back to us again? I've read of stories where dogs, even horses, wouldn't leave their deceased human companions' grave until they themselves died of starvation or loneliness. In one story, the villagers took pity on the dog and put up a makeshift shelter by the grave, bringing food now and then for the canine for years until he too passed away by his owner's mound of earth. A friend told me another story about a dog who, after his owner passed away, he kept the daily routine with his owner, going to the train station every day, waiting for his owner to walk back home with him. Thinking about that story now got me all teary.

His loyalty moved me to tears. How could anyone not be affected? I wish and pray someone will adopt him and take him to his owner's grave often to visit. I hope that he will go on. Waiting in loneliness for someone who will never ever come back again is a painful existence. At least we have to live on, carrying the happy memories of our beloved in our heart.

Because we cannot see with our physical eyes, we cannot know that death is not the end. Our loved ones are on the other side, waiting for us, guarding, and protecting us. If only we can see. Sometimes if we yearn so desperately, then we see our deceased family members return to us in our dreams. I think this applies to animals as well. After all, the souls of animals are also sparks of the Divine.

Death isn't the end. We just need to go on and live our life as best as we can. I hope that Leao can find happiness and not starve himself to death in loneliness and yearning.

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