Back to Nature (Published on - March 8, 2007)
Loyal friends
Illustration by Karen Mitchell Tremmel
Dogs were domesticated from the gray wolf approximately 14,000 years ago.
As civilization has moved deeper within the confines of our caves seeking security and anonymity, we have become further removed from the pebbles under our moccasins and mud between our toes.

We may give a passing glance toward the clouds to foresee a storm, but mostly we are reliant upon the 6 p.m. news for confirmation. We’ve lost the very basic skills our ancestors depended upon for rudimentary survival.

Were these skills instinctual to humankind or learned?

It’s interesting to observe the flux of survival shows on television over the past few years … participants slurping down grubs, beetles and sludgy drinks. Somehow I suspect these skills for survival are grand for television ratings, but not necessarily palatable or even necessary for the survival of the tribe or clan.

People maintained to work together in order to survive. Each member had a distinct unique job, talent or function that benefited the group as a whole. Humans seek comfort, camaraderie, order and security. Organized chaos remained flexible to withstand interruptions of incalculable transformation and adaptability of the circumstances and environment.

Drive upon Interstate 275 at 7:30 any weekday morning, white knuckled, vehicles zipping back and forth between lanes, abandoned vehicles, cruiser lights blinking in the distance, passing homes wrought-iron-barred-windows, debris scattered along the dividers, as many travelers going north as going south … you are observing planned chaos. Are humans evolving toward a higher functioning species? Or are we redesigning ourselves for the future makings of great science fiction? Where have we come from and where are we going?

Tracing our ancestry has become one of the nation’s fasting growing passions. Scrapbooking: preserving the past for the future has grown beyond the kitchen table to a multimillion-dollar business and recognized art. Humanity must gain knowledge of its links to the past in order to predict its paths for the future. The road goes both ways: past, future … mirroring the present.

As we discover our own beginnings we also learn about those animal companions at our sides that have shared these well trodden roads, while keeping us warm within our caves, guarding our teepees, providing our babies with milk and cheese, eggs and simply, but not least … comfort and loyal companionship.

It is estimated that dogs (Canis familiaris) were domesticated from the gray wolf (Canis lupus) at least 14,000 years ago. According to Department of Evolutionary Biology, Uppsala University in Sweden, evidence shows that “dogs with phenotypes similar to those in modern breeds (lived) as far back as 4,000 years ago.”

Also, “Most authorities believe that the shorthaired breeds of the domestic cat are derived from the Caffre cat, Felis libyca, a species of African wildcat domesticated by the ancient Egyptians perhaps as early as 2500 B.C. and transported by the Crusaders to Europe, where it interbred with the indigenous smaller wildcats.”

Recently someone spoke to me of such sadness of losing an animal loved one and of realizing infinite emptiness in their lives afterward. As well, I have personally experienced this depth of grief with the loss of my dear animal friend, so I understood completely. This is a sorrow that is difficult to express or understand. We analyze that we, humanity, are superior, gifted with the light of ancients souls before us. We analyze and profess that we are the masters of our universe only bowing to some intangible higher power. Is it possible that we are just one thread in a beautifully woven fabric? That we are just one embroidered picture upon the ? Is it possible that we are merely custodians, borrowers of time and space that should be shared equally with all other living things, moving with Spirit, all old souls?

What is Earth is in the Stars. What is in the Stars is a part of our ancient Universe. We were born of the Universe and all life within it. In accepting this complete connection we can wholly understand why we feel such sadness when we have shared our physical and spiritual space with ones so innocent and gifted with natural light. This shared light with our animal partners brings much needed peace and meaning to our chaotic human world. Otherwise I believe this old world would be a pretty lonely, lonely place to survive.

Over the years many grief stricken readers have kindly shared their stories of loved ones that have crossed over with me in letters and e-mails. Again, I offer this favorite poem of comfort shared with me by a friend.

“The Rainbow Bridge”

Just this side of Heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge. When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food and water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable. All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.

The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing: They miss someone very special to them; who had to be left behind. They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. The bright eyes are intent; the eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to break away from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster. YOU have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart … back to nature.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together ...” – Anonymous

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