Life after Death

It’s my first, multi-day road trip with my new sidekick, Willow.

Such a lovely sidekick!

We’re in Asheville, North Carolina readying ourselves for a Steve & Jen White training workshop at A Good Dog’s Life.  It’s a very yin yang kind of trip.  Blissfully wonderful having Willow here with me and painfully sad because the last time I was in Asheville, again for a workshop at A Good Dog’s Life, I learned I was going to have to euthanize my soulmate dog, Gibson.

I don’t even need to tell you the pain I was in ….you dog people know.  Suffice it to say, I wasn’t sure I would live through it, yet here I am watching this beautiful, blue merle Australian Shepherd girl, Willow, confidently experience all the newness of her first road trip with such ease and grace.  I’m sure Angel Gibson would be proud of her.  In truth, I know he is.  I feel him with us.

He and I had nearly nine years of road trips together and he was always cool as a cucumber in all new situations.  This little girl seems to be following in his paw steps.  Oh, except for that darn Harley that gunned the engine while we were taking a potty break by the curb.  No, she didn’t like that at all!  But she recovered very quickly and was back to her confident self.

So here’s the fun Willow and I had today in a short photo journal.

Couldn’t keep the girl off these landscaping rocks….she loved them!

Imagine that after checking in, the first person she met was Steve White!  Yep, he thought she was cute.  She was pretty full of herself after that.

Wow, these flag poles sure can make some noise when it’s windy.

She was quite curious about the flag poles.  All that racket kept her looking up a while.  Then it was on to experience her own personal, moving chariot.

It is NOT to carry luggage, it’s my ride!

After getting settled in our room, I decided it was time to do a little classical conditioning around the elevator before going for a ride.  Neither the opening, nor closing of the doors bothered her.

Patiently waiting for those doors to open.

And some dried salmon helped her think the funny sounds while inside the elevator (when it moved) were pretty cool….well, maybe just ok.

A little unsure about those weird sounds in the elevator, but salmon helped!

After all that adventure, it was time to hit the bed.  I love hanging out on a hotel bed with my dog.  Something glorious about it that I can’t describe.  Maybe it’s the cuddle factor?

Yummy bed to eat a bully stick on.

And she loves her window on the world!

Curious about all the movement outside “her” window.

And I discovered that the girl has an extreme desire to burrow!  OMG…..I wish I had been able to get it on video.  I laughed myself silly.

Aussie or Mole?

So here I sit, with Willow burrowed in the pillows beside me and reminiscing about my days with Gibson.  Yes and crying.  Many tears.  I didn’t think it would be possible to love another dog again, but Gibson was even more special than I thought, because he’s made more room in my heart for Willow.  I already love her beyond measure.  I think we’re going to have a really fine life together.  And she’s already a great Cold Nose College Mascot.  Yep, there “is” life after death.

I love you, Gibson.  I love you,  Willow.


Lisa Lyle Waggoner is the author of The Original Rocket Recall™: Teach Your Dog to Come. She’s a CPDT-KA, a CSAT (Certified Separation Anxiety Trainer), a Pat Miller Certified Trainer Level 2, Faculty for the Victoria Stilwell Academy of Dog Training and Behavior, a dog*tec Certified Professional Dog Walker and the founder of Cold Nose College in Murphy, North Carolina. The company’s trainers enjoy providing virtual behavior consulting and training solutions to clients around the globe and offers coaching, mentoring and behavior case support for pet professionals.


14 thoughts on “Life after Death”

  1. Lisa,
    Gosh I loved this for so many reason, life after death, the Awesomeness of Aussies and the symetry of life. And I loved this for you and your amazing Willow and of course you know Gibson sent her to you. Pls. share your Carol Cummings reading with me when you get it. Love you! Patti

  2. Oh Lisa,

    What a beautiful post. I hope I have your grace when I find myself on the path you’re taking. I’m in awe. Many hugs to you as you experience the spectrum of emotions. Thanks for writing this and for being so present for Willow while also honoring Gibson.


    1. Lisa,

      I love seeing the joy of you and Willow being together. Things are the way they are suppose be, no matter how painful they are sometimes. Gibson helped you become the person you are today. I know he is ALWAYS with you. And yes, quite possibly through that precious girl of yours.
      Somehow I missed this the first time.
      Thanks for sharing it again.

  3. Lisa,
    Beautiful. Tears flowing. I too am soaking up the wonder of Willow and watching you with such awe.
    Thank you my friend.

  4. Jenny Schneider

    What a lovely post, Lisa. A fitting tribute to Gibson and a joyous celebration of new love with Willow. She is a delightful soul who will only grow more delightful, because she has the good fortune of being with you. She was surely sent to you for this great purpose — to open your heart again and live there alongside your boy Gibson. She grows more beautiful and confident every day. Enjoy every minute. Let the love keep growing (I know you will) and your heart keep filling, my friend.

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