Wednesday, May 03, 2006


Nula, may you rest in peace and go gently into the arms of the earthmother.

Our niece Driftwood Ohana is part of the Rainbow Family. I recently received an e-mail from her after the passing of her beloved dog Nula. She has graciously given me permission to share it here. ~sapphoq

Driftwood Ohana:
For 9 years, I have shared my life & experiences with my best friend, my dog Nula. The story of how she came to be in my life is a long and strange one, involving tripping hippies living in the Daniel Boone Nat’l Forest, a local hillbilly with a litter of 4 weeks old pups, a drunk redneck with a gun, and a lot of eccentric energy. I won’t get into the details, I’ll just say that for those of us who went along on the drive to get Nula, [Su-Ma, Puck and PhoxPhyre) it was memorable.

When Nula came to live with me, she was only 5 weeks old. It was a cold April, and I was living in a tent in the National Forest with my tribe of rainbow brothers and sisters that went by the name of Ohana. It was a point in my life of extreme change, introspection, growth and strange & unusual experiences.

Nula was the prettiest little puppy you’ve ever seen. She was mostly black with some white patches and spots, and soulful brown eyes that expressed love and a quirky canine impishness that would later reveal itself quite strongly. I knew almost immediately that she was an old soul in a new body from the way she related to me. She understood far more than a puppy normally does.

Nula is a Celtic name that I had learned from a movie where a Selkie woman went by the name Nula, and it seemed to fit her sweet puppy face perfectly. She had long, seal-like whiskers and big, round brown eyes. She also seemed to have a human understanding of some things. Later, Daddy Chris added on to her name, making her full name Nula Bird.

Nula. New Love. This was my baby, my child, and she would grow to be my ever-present faithful companion. For the first weeks she lived with me, I bottle fed her. She was a greedy little thing, often climbing on top of her brother in her hurry to get to the bottle. Her brother went on to live with friends of mine, Leprechaun and Pixie, but later died of Parvo, a common disease in the Kentucky area at that time. They buried her on a friend’s farm, which Nula and I would later move to and live on for a year or so.

Together Nula and I traveled across America, going to rainbow gatherings, protests, Earth First! and other social-political events; meeting all manners of people along the way. We camped in dozens of national Forests over the years, where she could run free, roaming and exploring and getting dirty in all manners of ways, which seemed to be a real point of pride for her. We lived in an old conversion van along the blue highways of America off and on. She was fierce when it came to protecting our space; I always felt safe camping alone in the van or woods with Nula at my side. As time went on, we lived in lots of different parts of the country in various interesting situations. For a while we lived up in a holler in Kentucky, then on a friend’s old tobacco farm. At another time, we lived in a house by the ocean in Massachusetts, where she got to run on the beach several times a week, chasing the waves and digging holes to bury her rock du jour. We spent some summers in Olympia, Washington, living on a friends houseboat, and then later in an apartment down town. She very quickly took to running alongside me as I road the bike paths in Olympia, Tumwater and later in Gloucester. She came with me to Beltane celebrations, work sessions at the Procession of the Species studio, and was even with me the day I sailed a Snark out onto a windless Puget Sound and got stuck far up the sound with no wind to bring me home.

We were fortunate enough to get out to my grandmothers’ summer place on a little island in Maine several times over the years, which is a wonderful place to hike, bike, beach, swim and relax. Granny always made us so welcome there, as she is an animal lover just as much as me. Nula loved it on the island. My granny’s cottage has a woodstove and a fireplace, and in the chilly mornings and evenings, Nula would find herself a cozy spot in front of one of these heat sources’ and sprawl out asleep. She was like a possum, in that one eye would occasionally open to investigate her surroundings, and especially to keep track of whether food was being prepared.

She was a tough dog. At one time in Kentucky, she was attacked by 3 neighboring dogs that were wolf mixes. She had over 20 sets of bite marks on her little 35 pound body, but what was worse was they had ripped her soft tummy open and her intestines spilled out. It was a serious assault, but thanks to the help and skill of two friends James and Little Hawk, we cleaned her up; using leather working needles, we were able to sew her belly back up. Briefly after that experience, her spirit seemed broken, but she was a resilient dog and before long, she bounced back. Several years ago, a vet discovered a large cancerous tumor on her side, which was removed with very wide margins. The healing process for that was well over a month, but once again, she bounced back. Last summer she was involved in an accident with the tractor, which left her left leg dislocated, but thanks to a good local vet, he got it back in place and had her in a cast for a while recovering. She always had a limp after that accident, but even so, that didn’t slow her down.

Nula loved to run. She loved to romp and chase sticks and roam in the woods. I took her hiking a lot in the early days; of course, she was always as far ahead of me as her leash would allow. She was tireless, which came from being a mixed breed of Border Collie and Blue Healer. For a long time she would go to work with me when I did in-home hospice care, patiently waiting for me while my 8, 16 and 24 hour shifts dragged on. There eventually came a point when she had to spend more of her time at home because she was an anxious biter, and there had been some situations with her snapping at people who approached her. After that, coming home to her was always the highlight of my day.

For the past 4 years, we lived happily with my husband Greg in our suburban home, which has a large yard and gardens, and even a tiny amount of woods out back. I always knew it wasn’t the perfect situation for Nula, who needed to be free to run, but we did the best we could with her. She got walks and playtime and on lucky occasions, expeditions to our friend Kim’s mountain, where she could run free with Kim’s 2 dogs. Across the street from our subdivision is a creek where I would take Nula every day after work during the summer where she could swim and chase sticks.

My love for this dog went beyond that which one has for a pet. She was my child, my best friend; she needed me just as much as I needed her to need me. I spoiled her, maybe too much. I overlooked her bad habits on too may occasions. But I did it out of my strong love for her. Life is a learning experience, and she taught me so much that I am thankful for. I learned lessons from her that will one day be valuable to me when Greg and I have a child. She taught me the true meaning of unconditional love and devotion.

2 weeks ago, I let Nula out at bedtime and she wandered off. This was nothing unusual, although not something I liked, but it was the way she was. She was a wandering dog from the day she came to live with me, was accustomed to being able to roam about, and every now and then, she took off from my suburban home. In the past she had always come home within a couple hours, so when she wasn’t home by morning, I was concerned. During the day while we were at work, a friend came by and tried to find her, even going so far as to visit the nearby construction site Nula loved to hang out at, but the workers there hadn’t seen her.

When I got home from work, I got on my scooter and went up and down every road in our little town, looking for her. Greg did the same when he got home, and it was then that he found her. She had wandered too far the previous night, all the way down to the highways, and had been hit. Going to collect her body was awful; she was pretty tore up, and to see an animal that you so greatly love, in that state, is a horrible thing to go through.

We brought her home at dusk and over the next few hours, chose a place to bury her out back, and Greg dug her grave. For me, it felt as though I had lost my child, as though it were a part of me we were burying there in the spring moonlight. Nula had been with me through all my travels and experiences, knew all my friends who are now scattered around the globe and out of touch. She was the link to an important part of my past, where I had done the most growing and learning. The thought that her body was in a bucket waiting to be buried about killed me. It was then I understood the power of keening, as I tried to come to grips with the idea that my best friend had been killed. I felt such immense guilt for having let her out and wander off, that I wished I could have crawled down into her grave with her.

We buried her by a tree that had been blown over by a tornado 2 springs past. It had been one of the largest trees in our yard. When the tree went over, we removed most of its limbs, but half the root system was still in the ground, so we left the trunk and some of the larger limbs, curious to see if it would continue to live. Now, every spring, it blossoms in beautiful white flowers and continues to send lots of new growth out. It’s a very impressive tree, with a strong will to adapt and survive. There’s a new perennial garden that’s been planted in the past year along the edge in front of the tree, most of which are plants that were given to me for my bridal shower. It seems to be a place of healing and shifting energy, and a perfect place to bury such a funny little fuzzy faced friend. As I learned later, there is already a cat and a dog of Greg’s resting there, Love and Ginger.

We put Nula in the ground the same night we found her, buried alongside her favorite toys and leash. I couldn’t bear to think of her being there without a part of me always there with her, so my bundle of dreadlocks that I had cut off years ago went in with her, as well. There’s just no easy way to put a beloved friend in the ground, knowing you will never again get to hold them, pet them, or look into their eyes. We gave her a spiritual sendoff, nose pointing north, the nag champa smoke curling around the air and into our senses. Together Greg and I placed our hands over her heart and sent her off with the most powerful love we have for her, we prayed for her transition into her new form, and spoke our heart songs to her. Then slowly we buried her, a handful of dirt at a time.

Although this sweet dog is gone, her presence has stayed in our home. I still greet her spirit morning and night, and when I’m planting in the garden by her grave, which is quickly turning into a memorial garden for her, I can feel her presence there with me. I know she’s there, moseying around the yard, pawing the grass and occasionally wallowing in the sunshine. Eventually we will plant a Kentucky Redbud for her, to give her shade in summer. This is the place where my spirit dog rests.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Oh My Gods! : May 1st, 2006

Oh My Gods! : May 1st, 2006<---don't get left out of the denizens of broom-flyers headed over to Pagan comics by one of us! A day without a good belly laugh is like a sandwitch without a pail or shovel.

~rofl sapphoq