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  • My dog is dying. Her name is Takaya, and I've had her for 15 years, since she was a puppy and so was I. I was 19 when I got her, and there was very little planning - just the excitement that I had my own apartment, and so technically, no one could forbid me from adopting a dog.

    The last 15 years we've been unlikely co-pilots. Me, a single girl, going to school, working and living far away from her family. Rushing home after work to walk her each night, then eventually convincing employers to let me bring her in sometimes. Then, blessedly, working from home so we could be together all the time. 15 Apartments, 7 boyfriends, 2 heartaches, 2 cats and 4 vehicles later, we're still co-pilots, but she's dying now. The vets say she'll be dead within the week. It's hard to imagine life without her.

    Anyway, this story isn't really about my dying dog. It's about the owls.

    I live in Vancouver and I have not, for the last 20 years, seen a single owl here. Last week, out on a dogwalk, Takaya found a huge Barred Owl in a bush on the ground at a community centre near downtown. It was hurt, but so, so beautiful. I called the Owl Rescue place (thank you Google), and we sat with it for half an hour until a volunteer came and scooped the big, beautiful bird into a dog kennel and rushed it to emergency. Turns out it was poisoned, but it was a healthy bird before that, and it healed up nicely with treatment.

    Several days later, out on an evening dog walk in another area of the city with her and my ex, who still shares Takaya with me, I saw a flash of white above. I looked up at the tree above us and my jaw dropped. Another owl, this time, mere feet above us, healthy, watching us carefully, curiously. So sentient, so beautiful. Darren and I stood and marvelled at it. They are so intelligent and aware. It was watching the dog. So closely, we nervously laughed about whether it was planning to eat her... but she's a big lab, so that didn't seem right. No, the owl was just there. Curious. Quiet. Patient. It sat there for about ten minutes, until we, chilled with the cold winter night, walked away.

    So I went home and googled "Owl Meaning" (Thanks #2 Google). This is what came up: "In ancient Egyptian, Celtic, and Hindu cultures the symbolic meaning of owl revolved around guardianship of the underworlds, and a protection of the dead. It should be clear that the owl was honored as the keeper of spirits who had passed from one plane to another. Often myth indicates the owl accompanying a spirit to the underworld - winging it's newly freed soul from the physical world into the realm of spirit."

    I have been worried about what will happen to Takaya after she dies. Like, if there really is something after we go, I hate the thought of her being alone while she figures it out. She's a young soul, a baby, and I have been her protector for so long. Now I feel better - like maybe an owl will help her get to where she's going.
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