black lab photo by Phil Romans Flickr-CC

Teachers come in all species. Two of my greatest teachers were a pair of Labrador pups. They arrived in time to witness my prolonged and painful recovery from the loss of my 27-year marriage through divorce, and the deaths of my two previous labradors, Shadow and Licorice.

Six weeks before the new pups were conceived, I lost my animal soulmate, Shadow. His death left a gaping hole in my heart that I couldn’’t heal. Without his brother by my side, I simply would not have been able to cope. Licorice granted me another five months until I had to say good-bye again, but I needed every bit of it. As I sat on the vet’’s floor with hi’s gray head in my lap stroking him and crying, I thought about the two new brothers that were waiting to join me.

The pups arrived two weeks later. I was battered from two years of loss, grief, anger, fear and pain. Licorice’’s death was the crowning blow. I was devastated and in dire need of help. My new pups taught like University professors, yet, they were only babies. I named them Hana and Saba after my two favorite places on Earth. Shortly after I brought them home, I became dreadfully ill with flu-like symptoms and a horrific cough that lasted for weeks. My job of caring for and house-breaking new pups became infinitely more difficult.

While I struggled to get well, a constant rain made my forays outside with the puppies taxing.

Hana was excellent about doing what he needed to, but Saba, the one who loved leaping around in water, hated the rain. Each time I’’d don my rain gear and umbrella to accompany him outside, stubborn Saba would only sit by my feet under the umbrella. Of course, the trick was to outwait him, which is fine if you’re healthy and you have patience a’ plenty. I had neither.

After standing in the rain for too long, I picked Saba up, shouted angrily at him and stormed into the house. He looked at me with adoring eyes questioning my startling outburst. Instantly, I felt immense remorse and shame. At ten weeks old, Saba was too young to understand. Guilt overwhelmed me, and now I felt more emotionally pain than physical pain.

After about an hour of me thoroughly admonishing my Self, tiny Saba strolled over and plopped down on my foot. With his simple touch, tears flowed and all my self-loathing disappeared. Saba’’s lesson of forgiveness was so powerful. My heart melted with this Labrador teaching, this little creature who forgave my indiscretion so quickly. His gesture allowed me to let go of my guilt and shame and move out from the shroud of negativity that engulfed me. Animals are masters of living in the Now, and Saba’s instant forgiveness was perfect proof. If only people had the same degree of forgiveness that dogs possess, our world would be at peace.

I truly believe that others reflect what we most need to learn. Saba mirrored my need to forgive my Ex-husband and finally accept that our divorce was neither “right” nor “wrong,” it just was. The immediate release I felt when Saba forgave me was extraordinary. It took some time before I could truly emulate Saba, but I have achieved forgiveness, which has allowed me to release the last of my anger and resentment.

black-labThe healing that Hana and Saba gifted me with was immediately was truly astonishing. Their looks at me with adoring eyes melted my wounded heart. Their heads on my foot said, “”You’’re special, and we love you.”” My self-esteem soared for the first time in ages. My love for them was so intense that it almost hurt.

The healthier I got the more I began to enjoy my new puppies and learn their powerful lessons. While the chore of teaching new puppies the acceptable way to live with humans can be challenging, I needed it. From the first time I saw them I felt the smile return not only to my face, but deep in my heart and soul.

While I taught them to sit, stay, lie down, and avoid peeing in the house, they taught me profound lessons about my Self: how to trust again, how to love again without condition, how to stay in the present moment and make the most of it, how to live in joy, how to take life less seriously, and finally, how to forgive and let go.

Their presence in my life was in perfect timing to help me let go of whatever residual negativity I was clinging to. It is impossible to be unhappy around them. They look at life from one perspective only:– playing. The simplest thing becomes a toy. Their happiness, joyful exuberance, and life-loving, blissful nature provided powerful lessons for the woman who’’d misplaced those childlike traits. The obligations and responsibilities of life had buried them along with so much more.

nancy-with-pups.jpg Every day, these two dear souls teach me that I am worthy of being loved and that I am capable of loving. When they look at me with their soulful loving glances, they pierce any semblance of negativity within me. The unconditional love in their eyes is like a powerful laser straight into my heart. I knew these two special souls could help me regain my happiness, my joy, and my passion for life, all of which had been missing for too long. I couldn’’t have attracted more skilled teachers. They had big paws to fill following dear Shadow and Licorice, but they’’ve filled them admirably. Hana and Saba are living up to their names -– two of the most healing places on Earth!


Nancy A. Kaiser lives in the healing Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina surrounded by her family of dogs, cats and a horse. She is the author of Letting Go: An Ordinary Woman’s Extraordinary Journey of Healing & Transformation, about her recovery from trauma with the help of animals and nature. Nancy operates Just Ask Communications, a practice devoted to healing the human-animal bond through enhanced communication and understanding.  Visit her at:


Leave a Reply