Saturday, September 10, 2011

It feels so good to be free...

This is a true story. Since the tiger I'm going to tell you about was not owned by me, I have changed her name here.

I met Kefira at a big cat sanctuary far from where I live. She was a wonderful, huge, perfectly gorgeous Siberian* tiger. I was told to walk slowly and quietly past her cage because she was "a real bitch" and would snarl, roar, and lunge and anyone who came close. But the way things were arranged, a person had to walk past her cage to get to other animals. There was a sign on her cage warning of her dangerous personality. When I saw that sign on her cage I just felt so very sorry for her, like everyone had given up hope for her.

But I watched this tiger as she performed as advertised and I was sure that her actions arose from fear, not meanness. For reasons unknown to me, she had a tremendous fear of people. Whenever anyone got near her cage, she got very actively defensive. And when a full-grown tiger gets defensive, she can be very scary. Poor thing, trapped in a world of fear...afraid of the people who were scared of her. And I decided I wanted to relieve her fear.

Later, when my escorted tour was over and I could visit whomever I chose, I went back to see Kefira. I approached slowly, determined not to upset her. I found the edge of her personal safe space, which was some 20 feet away from her. I stayed there, close enough that her attention was fixed on me, but she didn’t get defensive. Then I did something that may sound strange: I envisioned a 'bridge' extending from my mind to hers, to carry one thought--"I love you". In my visualization, the bridge slowly grew, from my mind to hers. At the exact moment I envisioned the bridge reaching her mind, she jumped back, like she had been physically hit in the head. I then chuffed at her, and she stood up and chuffed back at me. Having exchanged proper greetings, I knew that I could now approach her, and I did. She started to rub against the near wall of the cage. She paced around, looking intently at me and rubbing against the wall as we repeatedly exchanged greetings. I moved over to the door, where we would be separated by two layers of wire fencing--no contact was permitted with her--and she reared up, with her paws on the wire, and rubbed her face against it. I tried to put my hands opposite hers, but she wanted to sniff them. I moved close and she tried to rub her face against mine. More than just contact, I had made a friend. I never saw her scared and defensive side directed toward me at any time after that.

The next day, as soon as Kefira saw me [and the intensity of her look really sticks in my mind] she jumped up and started chuffing to me. Again she rubbed affectionately against the wall and came to the door to be close to me. I wished she could keep that attitude all the time, but she still snarled and hissed at others (there were many other people at the sanctuary that day).

Kefira pointed out to me that her water bowl was empty (tigers [and lions too] use a great deal of body language, including eye motions), and the sanctuary workers were glad to allow me to fill it, with a hose, from outside the cage--she was considered a very dangerous tiger. But she and I enjoyed each other's company on that day, and on the third day of my trip as well. At the end of my visit I made sure to go back to her to say goodbye, and she came up to the door for a face-to-face, close as possible sendoff.

My next visit was a year later, and I went straight to see Kefira. As I got near, she went into her defensive position, ready to try to frighten me away. I stopped, and said, "Kefira, it’s me." Right away she stood up and chuffed at me. I went to the door of her cage, and she stood up with her front paws on the wire, to look me in the face just like before. But this time, the extra layer of wire had been taken down, and we got to touch noses! She was such a sweetie! I called dibs on her at feeding time, and the workers were glad to let me take the "chore" of feeding her... and so was I.
As I said, this sanctuary is far from where I live, but I kept in email contact. Two years after I last saw her, Kefira developed severe medical problems; her back half became paralyzed, and no one knew why.

They did everything that could possibly be done for her, but from my distant position I felt I needed to do something, but there was nothing for me to do. All I could do was send my loving thoughts to her, putting as much energy as I could into healing rays.

Notes from the sanctuary were frustratingly brief, but seemed encouraging. Kefira’s spirits were up; now she could move her tail; now they had hopes for her recovery.

One night, as I was again concentrating on her, I saw her in my mind's eye. She was there with me. This had never happened before. And she was smiling. She was so very happy, practically bursting with energy and joy, and I was happy to see her. She told me how much my love meant to her, and how good it felt to be free from the sickness in her body. I should have known what that meant, but I wanted to interpret it as meaning she had made a sudden recovery.

In the morning, when I got my email, I read that Kefira had died during the night, put down by a vet after everyone had given up hope for her recovery.

I had been so focused on her recovering that I had not thought that's what she had told me about. But I will never forget that final meeting with her, a meeting of our minds.

This experience taught me the reality of what others have said: that our spirits live on, that death is a natural process, that we leave behind our pain and suffering but not our love. And should someone say that animals have no souls, I can try to correct them with the utmost confidence.

I have just started reading a book titled Animals in Spirit: Our faithful companions' transition to the afterlife written by animal communicator Penelope Smith, and already I have read several accounts of animals who had died or been put down and they all include the sentiment of how good it feels to be free of their illness. A lot of people don't believe in telepathic communication with animals, and so may not accept the idea of joy after passing, but I experienced the same sentiment from my tiger friend, spontaneously, without pre-conceived expectations, and I am convinced that it's true.

*Yes, I am aware of the term Amur tiger for this subspecies. Call me old-fashioned, but the name Siberian is more attractive to me. Just so long as you know that Siberian tigers are not white tigers...

No comments:

Post a Comment