Chapter 11: Dreams, Prayer, Out-of-Body Experiences and Meditation
An excerpt from You Have Chosen to Remember: A Journey of Self-Awareness, Peace of Mind and Joy by James Blanchard Cisneros.
Now let me offer a couple of small but very personal examples of how putting prayer, dreams, OBEs and meditation together can turn judgment into understanding, sadness into gratitude and pain into peace of mind and joy.
Texas was born in 1985. He was a greyhound in a basset hound’s body. As with all baby bassets, his ears were as long as his body; they dragged on the floor making it unnecessary for us to mop it. Many times during his first year of life he tried to show us his athleticism by trying to chase us, only to step on his ears and drop to the ground. He would see us laugh then give us a look, the look that seemed to say, “Dude, it’s not me, it’s these damn ears.” Nonetheless, a few seconds after the look he would again begin the chase.
Texas didn’t turn out to be the athlete his heart told him he could be, but he did turn out to be a very smart dog. When we played fetch with other dogs in the park he would almost never get to the ball first. But if the ball seemed to be lost, he could always beat other dogs and was the first one to find it. In Miami, we had a two-story garden. I would throw the ball down toward the first level and the other dogs would run to that first level and search all around the garden for the ball. But Texas seemed to analyze the throwing motion, and he seemed to know by the movement of the arm the specific area he should search. His dog friends would get to the lower level first but Texas was the first to find the ball. Even in those instances where his dog friends would find the ball first, he would make sure to take it from them just before he turned the corner to meet me. I would always congratulate Texas on his victory, and he would smile and ask for another throw. He could be on the verge of a heart attack, with what appeared to be no oxygen left in his lungs; but no matter, he would smile and ask for another throw. On occasion, the ball would go into the neighbor’s yard. When this happened, he would immediately find either a broom or the swimming pool stick and take it to the spot where the ball went over the fence. Then he would bark continuously, and I mean continuously, until I came down to retrieve it.
He saw and learned how we slept, and he too would get up on the bed (sometimes with a little assistance), take the covers off, snuggle in, put the covers back on himself (up to his neck) and of course use the pillow for his head. He was one of those dogs you could talk to and feel that he truly understood what you were saying.
When Texas was two years old, I went off to college, and did not see him that much for the next five years. After college when Texas was a mature seven-year-old, we rekindled our relationship and I took him with me to Venezuela. I worked three years in Caracas, the capital of Venezuela. He enjoyed his time in Caracas as we lived in a home with a large garden in the mountains overlooking the city. In the daytime, he would hang with his neighborhood friends but he was always there for me when I came home. After dinner, we would hang together on the big patio couch that overlooked the city. He liked getting on the patio couch (with a little assistance) and on top of my stomach or right next to me as I lay there. We would sit and talk a little, but mostly we looked down toward the million city lights. A cool breeze usually filled the air. Sometimes we would both be in awe as the fog rolled through the house making it seem like we were all alone in our own little cloud.
Three more years went by. Texas was now a little more than middle aged, at 10 years old. I was headed back to the United States to get my MBA. Sadly, we separated once again, and another three years passed us by with very little interaction. During my time away he developed a close relationship with Norma (the lady who took care of the house), and I went on to finish my studies.
After receiving my MBA, I returned to Caracas. Texas was now an aging 13-year-old basset hound. Before my departure, Texas would come to the patio couch, put his two front legs on the couch, and I would lift him up. Now, after dinner he would still come to the patio couch to check out the city lights but he would just look at me. With his basset hound stare, he would inform me that two paws on the couch was simply no longer possible. Thus I would bend to the floor and lift his now overweight body onto the couch.
Another year passed, and Texas was now a tired 14-year-old basset. After dinner, I would go to his couch in the corridor and sit with him. Sometimes he would look at me as if to say he wanted me to carry him to the outside patio couch, and so I did. I understood that his eyes did not work too well and that now the city lights must have looked like one big blur. But he could probably still feel the fog rolling in, and that memory seemed to bring him peace. It would be our last year together.
By the time Texas turned 15, he was almost blind and could not walk very well. I wanted to put him to sleep, but over the seven years Norma had developed a very close and loving relationship with Texas. She would stop me and cry every time I wanted to take him to the vet, because she knew that I thought it was time for Texas to go home, back to heaven. Texas had been an excellent companion and a very good and patient friend. I talked to Texas about going back home, and I felt, as I always did, that he truly understood and agreed with what I was saying. I knew in my heart that it was time for him to move on, and I can honestly say he felt the same way. But it was very difficult for Norma to agree to put him down and I was not going to do it until she said it was okay to do so.
Finally, after crying her eyes out, Norma gave the okay. So Texas and I went off to the veterinarian. I promised Texas that I would be the last thing he saw on Earth. I promised him that he would be all right where he was going and that we would never forget him. In the vet’s office, we talked a little more and I told him that he had been a very good friend, that he had made a lot of people happy and that he should be proud of the way he lived his life.
I lifted Texas one more time up onto the vet’s table. He seemed to understand that his mission was now over and he gave me a very peaceful basset stare. The vet injected Texas, and I made sure that my face was right in front of his as he slowly closed his eyes. I tried to keep my cool in front of him, but later broke down in the car. I also knew that Norma would be devastated.
I got back home and went to my room. Norma was in her room crying. I sat in my meditation chair to breathe for a while. I prayed for Texas, prayed that he would have a smooth transition and thanked him for being my friend. After an hour in meditation and prayer, I went to my bed and passed out.
Just before waking, I felt a weight on my stomach. I knew exactly who it was; I had felt that weight on my stomach many times before. It was Texas! We then began a “human” conversation, which went like this:
“What are you doing here?”
“I just wanted to stop by and say thank you.”
“Yes, thank you for everything.” (In that acknowledgement I also understood that he was thankful I had the strength to put him to sleep.)
“You know, Norma is in a lot of pain about your passing.”
“Yes, I know.”
“What should I do?”
“Tell her to come and visit me.”
“How do I do that?”
“I love you, Texas.”
“I love you too, James.”
With those last words, I felt his weight lifting from my stomach, and he was gone. I woke up and wrote my experience down in my journal. I then got up from the bed and went to work. When I got home from work, Norma was not at the door to meet me. I understood this to mean that she was probably still having a very difficult time with Texas’ passing. I found her in the kitchen and I could tell she had been crying. I sat her down and told her my experience. She seemed both relieved and excited. She asked if she too could have such an experience. I told her that I absolutely believed it was possible for her to reconnect with Texas. She asked how, and I offered her the following exercise, or, as I now call it, invitation.
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Thank you so very much for your beautiful story about Texas. I too have the honor of being “owned” by pets, having been so blessed throughout my life with their love and companionship!
I have to tell you that I came to this site via a completely different way. I was actually searching for another Labrador Retriever to join our family, (My husband and I, our three boys, our “Princess” “Crumpet”, who is a four-year old yellow Lab and “Jelly”, our tabby cat who loves her.) and was on a breeding site that had links to a “Christianity” webpage. I thought that was a little different only in that I have never seen a link to that before on a dog breeding site. Well my curiosity got the better of me and so I clicked on it and there was a small paragraph he had written on dogs going to Heaven. After reading that, I noticed your link and clicked on that and spent the next two hours reading excerpts from your book, (With plans to order a few copies as well!), and absolutely sobbing when reading about “Texas”. I can SO relate, Growing up, I had a dog named, Samantha. We called her,”Sam”, or, “Sammy”. She was mutt my mom had found at our local small town pet store and she turned out to be the best dog we ever had! She literally grew up with me for the first seventeen years of my life. She was so much like your “Texas” in that she “got it”. Life in general! She loved me, warts and all!
One morning during my junior year, my mom had told me that something was wrong with Sam. She just didn’t look right. She always got up to eat and go outside. This morning she just laid there and looked at us like, “Help!”. Mom took her to the vet and I had to go to school because of a test I had to take. When I was told to come to the office because my mom was on the phone, I knew it was bad news. It was.
Sam had suffered a debilitating stroke in the night and she would never be the same again. She could be kept alive with medicine and her only means of getting about would be by carrying her or in a wagon, but there would be no more romps outside and naps in the sun on the couch as she too would never have been able to get up, plus her bladder was basically shot. She could no longer stand or sit or do anything other than lie still. We knew she had way too much dignity and self-respect to ever live her life like that and as much as we selfishly wanted her to stay, we loved her too much to keep her here when her soul was ready to go home and be set free!
The vet let me go to her and say goodbye. She had been lying down in one of the crates in the back and the vet told me not to ber alarmed, that she hadn’t moved since mom brought her in. But when she saw me, she stood up and wagged her tail, her eyes so tired, but filled with a tiny part of her that said,”Hi! There you are! I love you!”
I started to cry and put my arms around her as she then laid back down again, her breathing ragged and shallow. I got real close to her face and kissing her snout, whispered in her ear,” I love you Sammy, so much! Please be waiting for me at the gates someday.” She wagged her tail as if to say she would and then we said our final goodbye. I couldn’t be with her when they put her to sleep, it was too hard for me.
Other than my own mother’s sudden death ten years ago to cancer, I don’t remember ever crying so hard as I did for that dog.
But God kind and has since then sent me proof positive that our beloved pets go on to live with Him in Heaven. Whenever Sam visits me in my dreams, which isn’t often, but that’s all right as I know she is fullfilling her destiny beyond here, but when she does, she never has her collar on. You see, her collar is sitting on my dresser hung on a picture of my late mother. I know that she’s not wearing it because whenever doubt would creep it’s way into my soul about life after this, she knew that I needed a gentle reminder to have faith and know that we do indeed make that journey home again to our loving Father. That something as simple as a dogs collar was all the proof I would ever need to really believe that we leave our belongings and things behind, but the real part of us, our soul, goes on.
Thanks for your kind words and I’m really glad I found your website!