Two years before we moved to Minnesota, we visited a family who had a litter of golden retriever pups. Our children were nearing their teenage years, my wife, Linda, and I both had stressful jobs, and we were looking for an addition to our family who would bring more unconditional love into our home.

All of the puppies were so cute that we couldn’t decide which one to choose. Linda playfully told the group of puppies, “One of you is going to have to choose us.” Without hesitation, one of the pups came to me and untied my shoestrings. So we asked the pup if she wanted to go home with us. She responded by following us as we walked away, leaving her littermates behind.

We asked this puppy what she wanted to be called. Immediately, the unusual name Prana came to Linda’s mind. Later we looked up the meaning of this word and found that its definition was “breath of life.” And that is what this little puppy became for our family. She taught us all how to relax, love, and breathe in the fullness of life.

A few years after Prana adopted us, we moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Part of my job there was keeping a beautiful temple open after regular office hours for visitors and social events. The building was situated in the middle of a rolling prairie. I’d take Prana to work with me each evening. With all her heart, she loved this place and seemed to sense its sacredness. When there was no chance of her bothering visitors, I’d take her off the leash so she could run with her ears flapping in the wind through the grassy, rolling prairie hills.

One weekend Linda and I discussed our observations that Prana wasn’t looking as healthy as she’d always been. We had both noticed that Prana was sleeping more and had less energy. We took her to the vet, and when he X-rayed her, he found an obstruction that could be cancerous. Prana would need to have an operation.

With her surgery looming the next day, I took Prana to the temple grounds that she most loved to visit. I parked the car and let her out. She was as excited with anticipation as usual, but this night it broke my heart to watch her jump out of the car, hit the pavement, and squeal in pain. Prana looked at me, then she tried to run. She could only go a short distance into the prairie. Soon she walked back to me with her head lowered. I bent down, hugged her, and cried. Quietly, I stood near her as she looked around and said good-bye to her special place.

I helped her get into the front seat of the car and we drove away. On every other trip to the temple, Prana had always looked back at the prairie as we left it. This time, though, she looked straight ahead. There was nothing either one of us could do to change the fact that this would probably be her last visit.

The next day, while Prana lay motionless on the operating table, the vet called us with devastating news. Prana had advanced cancer. It was so invasive that the best choice would be for her not to be awakened.

By then, everyone at the vet’s office had grown attached to our little love angel. The staff often commented on what a special dog Prana was. The vet’s voice broke when he told me the sad news. He later said that Prana’s case had been very unusual. Apparently, Prana tried so hard to stay alive that her intestine wall had started to grow new healthy tissue around one of the tumors. But the cancer had already taken too heavy a toll on her body, and she couldn’t heal.

We weren’t the only ones, though, who suffered from losing Prana. About a year before Prana’s death, we had adopted a new kitten and named him Feisty. Before Prana died, she raised Feisty as a well-behaved dog, letting him eat her food, showing him how to greet us at the door, and teaching him other uncatlike things to do in our family. The loss of Prana was heart wrenching for all of us. We were amazed at how empty we felt without her in our lives. But Feisty mourned for his big sister most of all. For hours, he’d sit at the window, looking and waiting for her to return.

Two years after Prana died, Linda and I decided that we were finally ready to adopt another puppy. We knew no one could replace Prana, but we felt that our family needed the special brand of unconditional love that only a puppy can deliver. A puppy would also be a companion for Feisty.

The night before we were to look at some yellow Lab puppies, I had a wonderful dream.

Prana and I are walking on an ocean beachfront. It feels so wonderful to be with her again. I’ve missed her very much. Looking at her in this dream makes me feel better. She was such an important part of my life. I’m filled with happiness and joy at being with this beloved angel.

Suddenly, Prana jumps into the ocean’s surf and gently picks up a puppy by the skin of the neck. She carries the little creature to me, gently placing the yellow and tan puppy at my feet. The pup is small, cute, and playful.

The next day Linda and I went to see a farmer who had Labrador retriever puppies.
Once again, we were faced with choosing from a litter of adorable puppies. Suddenly, one of the pups came over to me and untied my shoelaces. I looked down and recognized her as the yellow-tan pup Prana had delivered to my feet in the dream the previous night. I knew that with this untied shoelace, Prana’s way of choosing us years ago, the pup was telling us that she would be our new companion. And she’d been personally chosen by Prana.

We named the dog Taylor, as a play on words, because her tail wagged so much it would make her fall over at times. The first few weeks Taylor was with us, she seemed to be following Prana’s instructions and doing whatever would be necessary to fit into the family.

From these experiences with Prana, I learned that the spiritual, loving connections our beloved animal companions make with us never end.

Has an angel animal appeared in your dreams to help you make choices?

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