Early Morning Spirits

walking, San Francisco, San Francisco BayI’m walking the same paths that I did when Henry sniffed along with me. Days after he died, when I began walking alone, I realized how much of a fixture we had become those early morning walks. Half a dozen other early ramblers inquired, “where’s Henry?” or “where’s that bright-eyed, busy-tailed dog of yours?”


Now it’s almost five months later, and I still walk our same route. This morning, one of Henry’s biggest fans stops me on the path, the San Francisco Bay by our side, a tiny otter face peeking out in the foggy mist.


“So, are you getting a new dog?” the woman asks. I don’t know her name, but she knows my dog’s name. Every time she speed-walked past us in golden retriever, spirit dogdays past, she nodded knowingly at Henry’s hippy limp, his dragged leg, and said to him, “I’m right there with you kid. You’re my inspiration.”


Henry was 12 at the time, about 84 in human years. The same as her age.


“No,” I answer now. “I’m still missing him too much.” I pause, wondering if I should go on, but the lady’s eyes have not left mine. “I still feel him around me, even see him in the dark of night,” I confess.


The older woman nods her head. “My husband has been gone for five years,” she says. “I still talk to him, and he still answers.”


I swallow hard. “Well, I still talk to Henry, and believe it or not, I still feel his thoughts. Crazy, huh?”


The woman places her soft delicate hand on my arm. “No, it’s not crazy. A dog’s spirit is as much alive as a human’s.”


“Well,” I reply, ready to resume my walk. “That’s why I’m not ready to get another dog.”


She chuckles and begins to walk the opposite direction, calling out as she does, “I know. That’s why I never got another husband.”


Spirit Dog by Pamela S. WightHenry smiles along with me as we finish our last mile.

54 thoughts on “Early Morning Spirits

  1. I hope Henry drops the hint soon that he’d like another doggy companion to walk with.I’m sure he knows you won’t forget him, and you still miss him but he also knows you could do with a wet nose plonking in your hand sometimes and a big head resting in your lap when you’re reading.
    Of course the new dog wouldn’t be for your sake but for the new dogs who needs the kind of loving Henry got when he was with you.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

    • Several people in my family have dropped hints that they’d like me to bring a puppy into the mix, Exactly for the wet nose and big resting head phenomenon. It’s under advisement. xohughugxo

  2. I totally understand your feelings, having gone through the same thing. I had a dog like Sadie for 12 years, and when she died I thought I would never get another dog. My daughter convinced me after several years had passed that I should have another, and so I got Sadie. I’m so glad I did. Her companionship has been so special. You will know when and if you should get another friend. In the meantime, absorb your memories, and your not crazy talks.

  3. It’s been 4 yrs and we have not gotten another dog after losing our 14 1/2yr old golden, Josie. There are times I walk in the house and call out “I’m home!” Out of the corner of my eye, I “see” her stretched out on the corner of the family room rug, where you had to step over her to leave the room. This spring raking out leaves we found an old tennis ball and had a good cry…. We’re not ready to get another dog, either. I’d like to think Henry and Josie are having a great time together!

  4. Oh, you made me feel Henry, too. Beautiful write. Sending the link to a friend who lost her husband a year ago. She still talks to him. I call my daughter’s cats by the names of a couple of cats we had when she was a child. Their names just slip out. The love never goes away. Hugs to you.

  5. I think we’ve all been on that same walk, together with a missed loved one. Yes, you will know when the time is right… Love to you, Ms Pam!

  6. Oh Pam…I understand so completely. We lost our beautiful Springer just over a year ago. Nash was 13 1/2 and I still miss him terribly. We have two other dogs…another Springer and a Yorkie. Their presence made it easier but they miss him too. Neither of them would eat for almost 2 days when it happened. I had a gorgeous Golden Retriever puppy drop in my lap just 6 days after we lost Nash because some horrible excuse for a human dropped her and a litter mate near our subdivision. One of my neighbors called me because she knew I loved animals and had just lost my puppy (I still call them my puppies) I kept her for a few days then turned her over to the Golden Rescue Society out of Dallas. She is in a wonderful home with 2 other Goldens. I was just too raw for a new dog. I still don’t think I am capable of taking on a puppy or a new animal at this point.
    I know your pain and I feel for you. I am sure he is close by and walks with you every day. I still feel my baby boy close to me all the time…. in time, if it is meant to be, you will have another dog you will love I’m sure, and Henry will be happy for you. 🙂

    • I’ve heard that dogs mourn the loss of their animal companions, and you prove that here. Of course, as the walking lady said to me, we’re all spirits, no matter what kind of animal we are. Thank you for sharing YOUR special spirit (and experiences) here with me.

  7. You gave me a lump in my throat.

    It’s so nice when somebody gets it. After my guinea pig, Pig, died, the first question people asked was “Are you getting another one?” which I found insensitive and distasteful. I know rodents are small and don’t live that long, but they aren’t disposable or replaceable.

    • And there’s the heart of the matter. None of us are irreplaceable – whatever type of animal we are – thus the loss and grieving. It takes a while to let the spirit settle before bringing a new one into the mix.

  8. This was a very touching post. I’ll be there some day. My dog (a Boxer), Mocha, is 11 1/2 and I see the changes (aging). She’s survived being taken to a shelter by her original owner, cancer, and cruciate ligament repair in her knee. She’s still so happy when we come home, even though her vision is decreasing. I tell my daughter that Mocha is her sister. And I mean it. 🙂

    I’m glad you’re still ‘walking’ Henry. 🙂

    I wonder if people who ask when you’re getting another one understand the dog-human connection. They’re family.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Mocha is amazing! I know a boxer, Callie, and she’s a wonderful spirit also. May they both stay healthy as long as possible. And yes, our dog companions are definitely our ‘sisters and brothers, sons and daughters’ in a very real family way.

  9. I know exactly. My dog has been gone 12 years and I continually trip over him in the night. But the human heart can grow to love another. Don’t let your heart shrink.
    Love Jeanette

    • Oh, you made my heart smile and expand, reading your comment. You still trip over your doggy guy after 12 years? Smile. I promise, no heart shrinking here, just need a bit more time for the heart to heal.

  10. Great, sensitive, insightful piece, Pam! Your after-this-life-experences with Henry are a testament to the deepest possible bond between a HumanDogPerson and a DogHumanPerson like dear Henry. The bonds are deep when there is a mutual understanding like yours and Henry’s.


  11. Aw was Henry a golden retriever? It appears that way from the sketch picture you’ve included. My golden is almost 9 now and I worry all the time as she acts more and more like a senior citizen. Her “little brother”, our collie, is 4 years younger so it will be quite a while before that decision that you are going through has to be made, but I know that void you are feeling. My dog that I had previous to Daphne died young, and I felt the void. I lasted only 2 1/2 months before getting Daphne.

    • Yes, Henry was a golden. Your Daphne is so lucky that she has a ‘youngster’ in the house to keep her moving. I bet they are great pals. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your golden story. xo

  12. So beautiful and poignant, and I believe it’s rarely about replacing or either/or – it’s about both/and. I don’t think it’s crazy to talk to people or animals who aren’t physically there at all. I still feel my grandfather’s presence very strongly sometimes, and ask for his advice or blessings, which I feel I receive. Such things are very personal, and beyond the need to prove – as long as they serve. Warm hugs, Harula xxx

  13. Awww, Pam, so very sorry for your loss. Our furry friends can indeed steal our hearts for they’re an integral part of our family life. Henry was adorable. I know that he will always walk beside you… ❤ ~Karen~

  14. I love that you talk to Henry. I love that your world doesn’t seem to have fundamentalist boundaries and that your imagination leaps into the divine and gives us so much. It’s hard when our loved ones pass on, but perhaps they simply walk with us in different ways…

  15. This gave me goosebumps! I felt this and enjoyed the warmth and caring shown towards Henry in his memories of walks with you. I read your friends’ comments, thinking it would be nice to have another wet and cold nose, a curious one who would bark (possibly?) at the sea otter’s nose poking out of the water…

  16. I only met Henry once when I came for dinner. It was obvious he was more than just a pet. So sorry he’s gone. I had a mutt in college named Macho. He was a real handful and very mischievous. Ultimately that was his demise as someone poisoned him when he returned to raid a garbage can for the umpteenth time. That was over 40 years ago and I still get misty when I think of him. Never going to have another dog was my mantra. Until I was recovering from back surgery and decided what I needed was a dog to get me off the couch and walking again. Along came my goofy loving chocolate lab Lucky. He’s been such a welcome addition to our family. There will never be another Macho; but Lucky is the perfect dog for me now.

    • That’s because there will never be another dog like Lucky, too. Those of us who have been ‘lucky’ enough to care for an animal know that each one has his/her own personality and spirit. Isn’t that neat?
      I hope Lucky has been getting you up and around since your latest surgery, Chuck.

  17. Ah…it took us 2 years after Lady passed away before we got Callie. It was the first time without a dog since I’ve been alive. But after Rex, Pepper, Ginger and Nikki, Lady’s passing was just too much. My heart needed a break. Now Callie has livened up our house again, and it was the right time.
    You’ll know when you’re ready. Henry won’t mind.

    • Thank you for these comments – 2 years is a long time to wait for a special dog companion, but like you say, we know when it’s the right time. I have a friend who waited two years before she got another boxer, who’s name is — Callie!
      I think we’ll need a year at least. Henry’s still walking by my side!

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