One year ago this month, I lost my wing woman — Mariah. She was and continues to be one of my biggest teachers. Today, I love deeper and fuller while being present to that experience.
Mariah was my Pet Partner therapy dog at Cairns Psychological Services at the Midwest Center for Trauma and Emotional Healing, Phoenix Process Consultants and Minnesota Linking Individuals Nature and Critters. We did amazing work together for nearly 13 years. She was runner up for Therapy Dog of the Year in the U.S. four years ago and received an award from the DELTA Society as a Pet Partner.
I know how to play with a dog, I mean really play. Mariah, in her strong, big body, demanded I become assertive and direct so we could fully engage in a relationship. We learned together, leveraging opportunities to attend dog obedience, agility and therapy dog classes, creating much as team partners.
Many of my best memories with Mariah involve laughter. We were teaching a class about therapy animals up North. Mariah was out in the woods scrounging around and came running into class, disrupting our teaching, smacking the legs of students with an old toilet brush she dug up. She provided poignant moments, too. A client was somatically processing a trauma memory. Mariah lay across her body as she worked through the process. Afterwards, our client said Mariah was her weighted blanket that allowed her to ground to the present.
Throughout this past year I have wept, laughed, felt deep anger, hurt, joy and pain. Some days I feel heavy, others sad; some I am OK, just OK. I have processed many days of grief for myself and many of my therapy clients. Grief is tricky; you can feel just fine one minute and overwhelmed the next, not sure what has occurred. Then I remember my “moochie” and the pain and love I feel in my heart. I realize this on a cognitive level, yet sometimes my body gets stuck and I find it hard to move.
I am reminded of what I often tell my clients about grief: that it takes time, your energy is lower, you may sleep a lot more and joy may feel out of reach. Oh, yes, I often teach what I need to learn. Sigh!
Mariah is missed on this physical plane by me and many people she touched. She visits me often in her spiritual embodiment, and for that I am grateful. I feel her often when I am working in the office with clients and when I feel the cool breeze of the wind. (Mariah got her name from the song, “They call the wind Mariah”). Please enjoy her picture. If you knew her, let your memories bring forth a smile. If you never got to know her, remember your own four-leggeds that have crossed over and remain in your heart.
As some of you process your own grief and losses, remember it can get better. At this sad time in your life, hang out with those in your life who will let you lean in, hug you and allow you to cry. Move your body, rest and sometimes just stand still. Be more than do.
Enjoy the following poem written by Mariah’s friend, Wendy DeCamp:
They call me Mariah
They call me Mariah for like the wind my feet do not touch the ground
And in this life I was cloaked in a body of black, white and brown.
For those who touched my skin and looked into my eyes, could see that I was not just a dog but an angel in disguise.
I came here to heal and teach others how to love
Now my job continues in this world from up above.
For those who knew me in this body of fur, remember when I raced how’d I fly, and when I stop to scratch my back upon the grass, the joy of life reflected within my big brown eyes.
You know me as Mariah, a dog with an angel within,
Now know my spirit as the wind caresses your skin.
Read and see more about Mariah at Cairnshealing.com