One of the main reasons I became an avid animal intuitive is that I had an extraordinary teacher, my dog Suki. She continually blew the lid off of any limits I had on animal intelligence, compassion and pure knowing. This story will demonstrate a glimpse into the heart of a Great Being, who happened to wear fur.

In those days the phone rang nearly every night: “Can you come over to the River House…and bring Suki!” I used to tease Patty that if Suki had opposable thumbs and could pick up the phone, I probably would never even be invited!

sukiPatty was not well. Barely 30, she had full-blown AIDS and was often feeling very fragile. She lived at the River House, an AIDS hospice where I worked, and residents were not allowed to have any animals of their own. So I brought my exuberant German short-hair pointer-cocker spaniel mix over often to cheer everyone up, and Patty fell in love.

It was not hard to do. Suki was the most aware and sensitive animal I had ever met, with more energy and determination than I thought possible for a canine. While I knew she was special, she could be quite a handful and be totally aloof and withdrawn one moment, then come on like a freight train at other times. But Patty immediately connected with her, and Suki allowed Patty great latitude in their interactions.

Patty was very persuasive. She said Suki helped her feel better so she begged me to bring her over as often as I could. Patty would ask Suki to climb in bed with her, or lay next to her on the couch. She was always getting Suki in trouble with the night staff (“what is that dog doing on the couch…again!”) But Suki always did whatever Patty wanted, while shooting me those knowing looks that she wasn’t supposed to be on the furniture.

As December approached, Patty looked like she was about to burst every time we met. She made me promise multiple times that I would come by the River House on Christmas morning. ”I have a special present for Suki.” On Christmas morning we walked over to the respite house, and were greeted by an ecstatic Patty. Squealing “Ooooh, I hope she likes it”, she handed Suki a very large beautifully gift wrapped present.

Patty could barely contain herself while Suki began ripping the colorful paper off, even though Suki made short work of it as it was one of my dog’s favorite pastimes. Underneath the red and green wrap was the largest rawhide bone I have ever seen. Suki was ever the grateful recipient, excitedly tossing and dragging the monstrous rawhide around the floor, trying to get a handle on the huge knots at the end. Patty clapped her hands in glee, jumping up and down like a 4 year old when the birthday cake comes out.

I was moved to tears, as I knew Patty had very little money and this bone probably set her back a full week’s living allowance. But she was so pleased to give this treasure to my dog; I had no choice but to accept.

When we got home, however, Suki was unable to get a good handle to chew on the massive end knots and soon gave up on the bone. Normally she would finish a rawhide in a day, but this bone was just too big for her and she never even touched it again. I placed it in her toy basket and it drifted to the bottom quickly as she played with all her other toys instead.

Three weeks later, I heard a knock at the door. Suki slyly ran to the side window to scope out who was knocking. I went straight to the door with no idea who it was. As I opened it, I watched in amazement as Suki ran back to her toy basket, frantically dug out all her stuffies (she had quite a few), and reaching to the very bottom, dragged out the immense, untouched bone.

Suki presented herself at the door greeting the bone benefactor with the huge rawhide firmly in her jaws! Patty promptly burst into tears upon the sight, exclaiming between sobs “Oh, I am so glad she loves her present!”

My jaw hit the floor and stayed there for a few moments, till I finally got hold of it long enough to form the words “Oh, yes, she certainly does love it“, though I knew for a fact she never once chewed it again since Patty had first gifted it to her on Christmas.

Suki never touched the bone again after that visit. Three years later I passed it on to a new puppy in my community, knowing it had more than served its purpose for Patty.


One year later I was in South Africa bringing the AIDS quilt to the Parliament of World Religions for World AIDS Day, and I received an urgent message to phone home. Patty had been hospitalized for pneumonia and died the very same day.

My heart broke into a thousand pieces as I never got to say goodbye. While Patty had been feeling so much better after many months at the River House, unfortunately she left too soon and went back to the streets. No one knew where she was. She called me several times, but I couldn’t convince her to come back. And now halfway around the world, I couldn’t even attend her funeral.

But my ex-husband went which gave me a small measure of comfort. And a few days later he filled me in on the amazing event. Knowing the special bond Patty had with our girl, he decided to take Suki in the car to the burial. We were both quite surprised when Patty’s family and friends immediately knew who the car-doggie was, as they all had been regaled with umpteen Suki stories.

As each one came to greet her in the car on the way to the burial site, they shared: “Patty told us how much it meant to her that you trusted her to take care of Suki. For over a decade she had been lost to the world of drugs, and had stolen from everyone she knew until we all cut off contact. You gave her back that trust by allowing her to walk and play with your precious pup. It meant the world to her.”

I had no idea how sharing Suki would impact someone so deeply, though I suspect Suki knew.

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