luisa kolker shamanic healer

Remembering Tulip

Tulip gazing at me; circa 2006.

Tulip gazing at me; circa 2006

Today, February 25th, is the 3rd anniversary of the death of my beloved friend and most loyal companion: my dog Tulip. Tulip first came to me in a dream. I saw her long, sleek, low-rider body and wondered who she was. Three weeks later, at the Santa Fe Animal Shelter, she came up to me and snuffled her snout between my knees, making it more than clear that even if I didn’t yet know she was my doggie, she knew that I was her human. We were to have nine exceptional years together. What follows is an account of her last 24 hours here on earth, written the evening after Tulip died.

February 25, 2010
Yesterday afternoon Tulip was lying on the sofa taking a nap in the afternoon sun. When I looked over at her, I saw something protruding from under her ribcage, so I went over and palpated the area. What I felt alarmed me, so I called her vet. Within half an hour, we were at the vet’s office. As the nurse did the initial examination, she said, “I’m so sorry–Tulip has a big mass in her belly; it feels like it’s on her spleen.”

After an ultrasound confirmed that the tumor was attached to her spleen, it was recommended that she be operated on as soon as possible. They suggested I leave Tulip there to have surgery that evening. I decided to bring her home and take her back to the vet in the morning, so that we could have an evening of calm before entering the world of the injections and medicinal smells that would precede the surgery.

For dinner, I gave her a big serving of roasted chicken. She devoured it directly from my hands with gusto. During the night, she cuddled up at the foot of my bed in her bed with her fluffy down comforter. Since we were both restless, we fell asleep to the gentle sounds of meditation music.

In the night, at about 2:30 a.m., I woke up and Tulip woke up, too. There was a feeling of goodness in the room, of sweetness. I said to myself: Tulip and I are being held by God right now. I went over to her and stroked her soft ears and rubbed her back. I told her I loved her and that she was my best friend. I told her that someday it was going to be warm again and we would hike again in the mountains and go running together on the trail behind my house. I told her I would take good care of her and that she didn’t need to worry.

We both fell back asleep.

Early in the morning, I awoke from a dream where I was late in taking Tulip to the vet, as I was moving slowly, ambivalently. Still, we were only three minutes late for the appointment.

When I got out of bed, Tulip also rustled her way out of her cozy comforter nest. The wind was blowing; it was 20 degrees out. I bundled up, determined that Tules should have her daily walk, since post-surgery it would be at least two weeks before she could exercise again. Tulip was her usual self—bouncy and so excited to be going outside. She did her delightful “we’re-going-for-a-walk!” dance, her front paws perfectly parallel to one another, hopping from the right and then to the left as her elegant tail wagged with enthusiastic impatience. We walked down the snow and ice-covered dirt road in front of my house. She was thrilled to be in the wide-open outdoors.  She snuffled her nose in the snow drifts on the side of the road, she dug at mysterious, smelly places with avid curiosity. She was a happy, happy girl; her expressive ears lifted up by the gusting wind.

When we got home, my friend Marianne was there. She took some photos of Tulip and me. I asked her to do that. Part of me wondered why I was asking her.

I took Tulip to the vet (arriving exactly three minutes late as in my dream) and she was a little anxious about leaving me to go in to surgery. For some reason, my last words to her were “I’m okay, Tules. You don’t have to worry about me. I’m okay.” That seemed to soothe her a bit.

When I came home to work and await word about her coming out of surgery (I was planning to see her after she came out of the anesthesia), I did something I’ve never done: I got on my knees and I said the Lord’s Prayer. Yes, I, a religious half-breed and bona fide earth-worshipper, somehow recalled every word. It gave me tremendous comfort. “For Thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory, forever and ever. Amen.” Forever and ever—those were the words that wrapped around me like a soft down comforter, warming me instantly.

During my second session of the morning, the call came from the doctor’s assistant. I picked it up immediately. Tulip was still in surgery under anesthesia. Her tumor was massive. The biggest the vet had seen in nine years of working at the clinic. The tumor had invaded the lining of her stomach. It was inoperable. “May I have your permission to euthanize her?” she asked. I told her that I needed to be there when it happened.

Marianne drove me to the veterinary hospital, where my other dear friend Peggy met us. The three of us embraced in the parking lot. I felt blessed to have my two beloved girl friends there with me. The three of us were ushered into a small, clean room where Tulip lay intubated on a stainless steel table. She was wrapped in a little fleece blanket with a doggy foot-print motif. She was beautiful, asleep and breathing quietly.

The doctor left Marianne, Peggy and me alone with her to say goodbye. We wept and petted her. As I snuggled my face into the warm, sweet-smelling fur on her back, I thanked her over and over again. I told her that I was the luckiest person on earth to have had her as my friend and my soul mate. I told her that she had brought so much happiness and so many smiles to so many people. She had brought so much love to me and to this world. I told her that I loved her so much and that she and I would be together again one day, that I knew she would be waiting for me when it was my time to go.

The doctor, Dr. Andrea Trujillo, a young woman with a most compassionate and loving nature came in and said it was time to give her the shot, as we didn’t want the anesthesia to wear off.

As she slowly injected her, Peggy gently chanted the Buddhist prayer “Om mani padme hum.” Marianne and I joined in. I felt a quieting in Tulip’s sweet body and a peacefulness all around us. Very softly, Dr. Trujillo said, “She has died.”

We stayed with her body for a while. Peggy remarked that it felt to her that Tulip had immediately and easily moved on, and that this was in-character for a little dog who was never really a dog—after all, she was quiet, rarely barked and she would sustain eye-contact for long, soulful periods of time. She was really an ancient, ancient soul with the blithe, eternal spirit of a puppy.

Before we left, I removed her collar with her red heart-shaped tag. The tag says: Tulip, 2 Cuesta Lane, 660-9414. I will keep that heart, Tulip’s heart, with me for the rest of my life. Though Tulip no longer lives at 2 Cuesta Lane, she will be alive and happy and the light-of-my-life always. She will live with me for the rest of my days, forever and ever, in my heart.

Luisa & Tulip last photo

Last photo of Tulip, February 25, 2010

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9 Responses to “Remembering Tulip”

  1. Jan Robinson says:

    She’ll meet you at the Rainbow Bridge……there are many there,waiting for me.

    • Luisa Kolker says:

      Yes, Jan. I feel that is true. I see her still in my dreams and she sometimes appears in my shamanic journeys. Another time, I’ll post here about the psychopomp journey I did for Tulip about two days after she died, to help her cross over completely. Sometimes when an animal (or human) dies under anesthesia, they need some assistance in understanding what has happened. God bless these pure and loving beings.

  2. Maralyn Farber says:

    So beautiful. You will be reunited w your sweetie one day.
    I, too, have gotten on my knees and said the Lord’s Prayer. And it does feel good!

  3. Kara Lin says:

    What a wonderful expression of your love for Tulip and her love for you. Luisa , I can relate to your relationship. I lost my beloved little girl pug (Piggie). She passed away last summer. I miss her everyday. I called her my joy…my joy pig. Thank You for sharing this story.It is a very comforting story of companionship & uncondional love.

  4. Luisa,

    I am just now reading this post… with tears in my eyes. Something about this just broke my heart open… I think I’ve been carrying around a lot of unsurfaced emotions lately and this just bust through them.

    Our animal companions are so dear…. I am grateful for my dog Lucy’s presence with me as I write this, and have much the same relationship with her that you had with Tulip. And I am remembering my beloved cat, Amelia, who was my friend for 17 wonderful years. And how heartbreaking it was to make the decision to end her life, out of compassion. It’s all coming back to me as I read what you wrote, and I am deeply grateful for this kind of love.


    • Luisa Kolker says:

      Thanks so much for reading this post and for your comment, Maia. Yes, “this kind of love,” it’s the purest love there is. Our animals teach us so much about how to be uncomplicated and compassionate.

  5. Rosanne Barker says:

    Hi Luisa,

    I remember Tulip so well, and just happened to be perusing your blog (for the first time)last Friday night, and saw your sweet piece about her. I remember Jim taking her for a walk in the snow (or vice versa) on Christmas Eve 2007. Then, in Sept 2010 when I visited you and didn’t see Tulip, I inquired about her and you had told me that she passed away quickly only a few months before. I loved reading your beautifully felt and written story of her last day, and the connection you will always have. I sent it to my friend Ellen, who last week had to put down her 14 yr-old greyhound (who she had had for the last 10 yrs). I also sent it to Jim, who now lives in Scotland.

    Thank you for writing about her — and for keeping me on your email list.


  6. Luisa Kolker says:

    Oh, Rosanne–it is so good to hear from you! Yes, I remember this so vividly. In fact, I think you and Jim gave me a photo of her from that day.

    I send love to you and hope to see you here in Santa Fe again sometime soon.


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