I sit in my healing studio at my house SunnyBank and my attention is drawn to the two dog figurines on my table. They once belonged to my parents, they bought them in an antique shop, after they’d decided not longer to have living dogs. My parents were getting older and frailer and they wouldn’t want to have the responsibility of taking care for a Furry One in their lives anymore. To symbolize their love for dogs and not to miss out on dog energy, they decided to buy two Victorian “whore hounds”. Workers in red light districts in the Victorian age displayed them in their windows. When a customer was in, the dogs faced inwards, when the prostitute was free, the dogs faced the street. At least, this is the story that came with the dogs, told to my parents by the owner of the antique shop.

My heart is filled with joy and bittersweet feelings, thinking back to the dogs I’ve known and loved: Rakker, Cora, Pam, Louska, Janeck, Harvey, Patty, Pippa and Cookie. Here is a photo of the latter two. Taken in a department store where they normally would set up a photograph studio for babies, they had a new idea: come in with your dog(s)! I remember that moment well, it was mayhem. But the photo taken was really beautiful.

cookie_pippa

When I moved to Glastonbury, England, I left Pippa with my ex husband and Cookie moved to my sister and her family, where she lived to be 15 years old. One of the last meetings I had with Pippa, I clipped some of her black hair and kept it in a small piece of silk in my medicine bundle.

A year or so after Pippa’s death, Sig and I traveled to the Eastern Scottish Islands, together with some friends. One of the many Sacred Sites on Orkney we wanted to visit, was the Tomb of the Dogs, or the Cuween Hill Cairn. This Tomb of the Dogs is a beautiful smooth- stoned chamber, connected with a long tunnel you have to crawl in on hands and knees to reach the dome shaped inner space. Side chambers were built from the central area and human and canine bones have been found there when it was excavated and researched.

First I did not dare to crawl through the low-ceilinged 10 yards or so tunnel. It felt claustrophobic. My friends were cheering me in, and one of them yelled from the inside of the chamber: “Hey you’ve been birthed, you know how it feels to go through a birth canal.” Because that was exactly how it looked: a uterus and a birth canal, people crawling in taking the reverse route to another life, to be birthed again on “the other side”. I yelled back: “I’ve never taken that journey, I was born through a Cesarian Section.” I finally took the plunge and shaking with fear for the unknown I crept through the dark tunnel.

Arriving in the round safe space of the chamber was such a relieve, but I could not stop crying. I felt I had to say goodbye to my dog Pippa there, very appropriately in the Tomb of the Dogs. I took the small silk pouch holding Pippa’s hair from my medicine bundle, and tucked it into one of the crevices in the layered stone walls of the chamber. I said a prayer to set her soul free from this world, and also to set her free from my heart, cheering her on in whatever place she was now in, undoubtedly being united with the Great Mother Dog. Creeping out of the dark tunnel, into the light again, I became aware of the beautiful sweeping view over the hills and the ocean, a wonderful place to rest the body and soul, dog or human.

I think the silk pouch with hair must have been disintegrated by now and whatever is left of it, has found a beautiful resting place in this Sacred Space, the Tomb of the Dogs, just like my memories of Pippa.

– Karin Schluter Lonegren