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Hello all,

First off, Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Second off, I wanted to invite you to a really great holiday boutique. Forget Black Friday, you can find one-of-a-kind gifts, stocking stuffers and works of art at the 13th Annual Art & Soul Boutique Sale in a classy, no-stress atmosphere at Saint Albert the Great Catholic Church in Minneapolis. (See attached poster for dates and times.) Join us on that first Thursday evening and enjoy free wine and snacks and live music while you shop! Let’s see Target provide that kind of service!

Enter St. Albert’s through the door right behind the saint-and-his-frog statue at the corner of 32nd Ave. S. and E. 29th St. in Minneapolis. That’s one block north of East Lake Street where you turn to go to the TCF Bank.

If you or anyone you know is facing a first holiday without a beloved pet, I’ll be at the sale most of the time to sign and inscribe copies of my book “Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss.” It just may be the only gift that can lift the heart of a grieving pet parent. (Or buy one and save it until that special someone needs it. I’m offering special show discounts and $2 from each book goes to support The Wildcat Sanctuary!)

See you there!

Sid

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Today—Nov. 16, 2010—is Give to the Max Day. Donate to your favorite nonprofit and your funds will be matched! GIVE, GIVE, GIVE!!! Because I pledge to donate $2 from each copy of my book, “Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss,” I sell online and in person to several animal-related charities, I save it all up and donate today to double my donations to The Wildcat Sanctuary, Pet Haven, Small Dog Rescue of MN, Animal Ark, Feline Rescue and The Pet Project (actually, I just threw in that last one because I wanted to support it, too). Pick your own favorite nonprofit organization and pledge what you can. Please do it NOW!!—Sid

Jasper had a difficult start to his life, but he never held a grudge. He had a personality of peacefulness that I have never seen in another wild animal. He enjoyed and accepted every person and animal that came into his life. But his best friend of all was Otis, who passed a few years ago. Jasper was so calm and easy going and even participated calmly in his medical treatment to curb his recent onset of seizures.
Jasper taught me so many life lessons while he was alive, but his death may have taught me the most important….All living things are connected in this world…and never underestimate this.
Jasper was the third resident to reside at TWS and was one of my closest animal friends. His seizures had subsided and he was stable when I left for my recent trip to Africa. This trip was extremely special and enlightening. I learned so much from the beautiful animals living out their lives in the wild as well as the extreme poverty but also joyful resilience of the people in Africa.
For years I have heard and used the term Rainbow Bridge when animals pass. But in the recent years, we have often seen a full rainbow within a few days prior or after an animal passing at TWS. We’ve always looked at is as nothing more than an interesting coincidence until my trip to Africa.
Upon my day of arrival in Lewa Conservancy, the brightest and most vibrant full rainbow appeared. I had never seen anything so strong and beautiful. See above for the actual photo. But with that came a heavy aching. My mind went right to the Rainbow Bridge. A frantic email home revealed everything was good and the animals were fine. My new friends in Africa comforted me and said; maybe the rainbow in Africa means something different than at home. “No worries – it’s all good,” I heard repeatedly on my trip.
The week continued full of animal tracking and visiting local schools. Each day, I felt blessed to be having such an experience. The sense of peace, appreciation and healing were overwhelming. Late into the trip, our group proceeded to Pombe Point. A high point that over looked all of Lewa. It was breath taking. Within a few minutes of arriving, an amazing full rainbow appeared, not only one, but then another above it. A complete double rainbow. I had seen a full rainbow the first day, but never a double rainbow. Tears filled my eyes – of happiness and sadness. I couldn’t explain really why, but the Rainbow Bridge came back into my thoughts. It would be several days before I could be in communication with TWS again. But when I finally did contact home, I emailed Trista saying I’ve seen not only the full rainbow, but a double. I said I know something had happened and she confirmed that Jasper had passed at 4:30 pm on the day I saw the double rainbow.
My heart broke not only from his leaving but not being there with him. I know he was in the best and most caring hands as he left us and I find peace in that. I am still in shock of his passing but also in the great connection that I felt all the way from Africa. I no longer believe the Rainbow Bridge is just a phrase. I’m not sure I know exactly what it is or what happened, but I do know that I am now so thankful and aware of the connection between the earth, animals and people. It is a magical thing.
Jasper, thank you for your message and rest in peace with Otis at the Rainbow Bridge.

Another perspective is shared here by longtime TWS volunteer Susan Timmerman:

As irony had it, I was up there that day but only because of some crazy, last minute rescheduling. Originally I was supposed to be up covering the sanctuary overnight the previous weekend. I was frustrated and irritated when my plans got changed. But we never know what the universe has in store for us, so now, looking back, I can see that I need to just chill out and go with the flow – there was a reason.

What first seemed like one mild seizure turned into one right after another within a couple hours time. Trista and I drove Jasper to Lake Elmo to see Doc Baillie. He had two more in transit. Both of us were thinking the same thing but not verbalizing it – there’s no way his brain or body can recuperate from this. Doc confirmed that after examining him and we then knew we had to let him go. I feel so honored to have been with him when he passed. He was one of my first, and one of my favorite, photography subjects. His gentleness was clearly visible on his face. He never quite got over losing his cage mate, Otis, a couple years back. I now find comfort in believing they are together once more and somewhere in the great beyond, cuddled up in a warm sunbeam, sharing their love for each other and talking about ‘the good old days’!

To all the volunteers at TWS, I say:

Please accept my deepest sympathy for the heartache you must all be feeling. Rescued animals of any sort tend to find a place even deeper in our hearts than is typical, simply through the act of rescuing and taking profound responsibility for their lives and happiness. We feel it’s incumbent upon us to “make up for” their past hardships (although they’d never lay that on us themselves).

Jasper was beautiful inside and out, and I personally thank you all for your efforts to create a blissful world for him through his last days in this earthly life.

I am so sorry for your loss,
Sid

Though I live among a menagerie of animal family members and couldn’t imagine life without them in my home, I know where to draw the line with these feline/canine/avian, etc. room mates. The animals in my home have been domesticated for thousands of years and depend on my care to survive. Wild animals, on the other hand, do not belong in kennels or cages. When people decide to breed wild animals for profit, and someone invariably gets hurt or killed by one of them as a result, my blood boils at the thought that the animal is automatically killed in response when it was the human beings involved who were breaking the laws of nature by turning these creatures into pets. In my book, I include a chapter on “When a Companion Animal Is Not and Never Should Be a Pet” that highlighted Meme the Bengal tiger and the wonderful works of The Wildcat Sanctuary in a moving story by my friend Susan Timmerman.

Please check out their latest heart-wrenching video post, Titan and Lilly: Together at Last

Remember that while all animals are our teachers and deserving of our respect, love, admiration and protection from harm—they are not necessarily ours to “own” and never ours to exploit for profit. This story of remarkable, stunning tigers Titan and Lilly shows the resiliency of these creatures as they overcome traumas perpetrated on them by thoughtless, short-sighted human beings.

Please consider making a contribution to their ongoing care. The Wildcat Sanctuary and its founder, Tammy Quist, and her staff are simply astounding and most deserving of our support. That’s why I make a donation to them and a few other select no-kill animal shelters each time anyone purchases my book online or from me personally. You can go to my site at <www.goodgriefpetloss.com> and reach The Wildcat Sanctuary through the Affiliates page. They have an annual fund-raising dinner and dance (Jungle Boogie—info on their website) coming up in October, 2009; it’s ’50s themed and I and my hubby will be teaching some dances of the era that night through our business Two Right Feet Dance <www.tworightfeetdance.com>. Join us for the fun and support these beauteous felines.

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