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  • Writer's pictureRaina Irene

Taylor Made

Updated: Nov 13, 2021

Taylor was two years old when she entered my life. Grafted in by marriage. She had just given birth to eight black puppies. The question always remained; who was the father to these half yellow Labrador pups? We would never find out. Yet each one was the dark version of their mother. But mother she wasn’t. She was a puppy herself.

“Do I have to nurse them?” she would question us as she laid there, doing what she instinctively knew was her calling of the moment, while yearning for her daddy, Richard, my husband, to please throw the ball. But she did her due diligence, hoping one of these tiny babies would want to play also. One by one the puppies flew the coup and Taylor pranced in relief that this season was over, and she could get back to “puppying.” hjhjhj

About a year into our grafted relationship I was disrupted with frozen shoulder, an unbearable issue without question. You truly cannot move your arms. Your shoulder is locked in place and if it is nudged, it will send you into a mental breakdown of piercing pain. Taylor, our ambitious pup, was insistent on our attention. Since my arms were locked, my hands were easy access for her nose to remind me she was present. It wasn’t long before we had to redefine our relationship and I had to remain inside from the nose-prodding. I could only hang out with her through the screen of our sliding glass door that divided us. My heart pain was as intense as my shoulders that insisted, I keep them still. My solution: a friend. Taylor was an only dog at that time, the only play time she had was when the grandkids came over, or weekends with Rich, because of his long work hours. She needed a best friend.

I love how ideas manifest possibilities. Within a few days I heard through a friend that a young mother with four large German Shepherd dogs, was in dire need of placing these animals in homes that would love them. I contacted her immediately and told her to bring them over. I knew I could only take one of them, so the agreement was, whoever Taylor fell in love with could stay.

She pulled up to the house with the dogs packed in her small blue Toyota Civic. As I looked into the window and laid eyes on Beau, I instinctively knew it was him. But I proceeded with our agreement. Beau was the second dog to be introduced to Taylor, and the last. She was smitten and so was he. With that, Beau, the mellowest German Shepherd I had ever met, was grafted in. The two of them were joined at the hip. The yard was happy. And I was happy. My compromised body watched the two dogs play and find joy.

I was beginning to unlock at the shoulder while Beau was beginning to appear tired; his hair was falling out and he stopped eating. Taylor would sit by his side; she knew something was off and her time with him was short. We were only allowed one year with Beau before his body would fail him and Taylor and I would realign once more. It was a painful animal year. Within a few weeks our mischievous silver kitty, Raven, would escape our home to find a new clan also. The yard was quiet again. My ninety-five-year-old mother’s life was coming to a close. Our lives were changing rapidly, but the one thing that was consistent, was this beautiful dog in the backyard that refused to grow old.

As my shoulders started to move again, my time with Taylor changed also. I could go into the backyard and find solace. I could lay my hands on her, give her love, and Reiki. Little did I realize she was becoming my own Reiki practitioner.

After my mom went to Spirit, Rich and I moved to a larger property and proceeded to fill it with kittens, chickens and mini horses. Taylor ran around the captivating property visiting each one of her new friends with her healing magic. The horses calmed, the chickens were, well chickens. They entertained her. Hurting any of them, or anything for that matter, was nowhere in her doggy nature.

The backyard also provided a pool that became Taylor’s personal recreation. This girl could swim like one of the kids. She did laps around us. She would swim all over the pool climbing out from the deep end. She loved playing with the kids but was just as happy to play in the pool with only Rich. He would throw the ball in the basket, she would retrieve the ball, bring it back to him and then back in the pool she would go.

One day I was outside visiting with my lifelong friend Jeanette. Jeanette was processing a situation in her life through our conversation. Taylor came up and prodded in true Taylor fashion. Back and forth she would nudge us, we would pet her, she would leave and then come back. But today was different. Taylor was about to show me something I had not seen before. She came back once more and nested herself in-between Jeanette’s legs. This was unusual because, as I said, Taylor was a busy dog. Staying still was not her forte. I paused from our conversation and watched as Taylor made her presence known to us in a way that was unique to her character. I watched motionless. Speechless! What was happening here?

Taylor looked at me and began to tell me what she was doing. There were no barks, moans or movement. It was in her eyes. She was giving Jeanette Reiki! I let out a huge breath that I didn’t realize I was holding and said, “Jeanette! Taylor is giving you Reiki!”

Jeanette looked at me, surprised, and then touched the top of Taylor’s head, acknowledging, “Oh my goodness, I think you are right. I can feel it!”

We both remained quiet for the what felt like, the ten or so minutes that Taylor stayed still, and then she was off to her next adventure. I was mesmerized by what I had just witnessed. All those moments I had touched her had created a Reiki Master in my own backyard.

Jeanette was the first, but she certainly was not the last. Every person that encountered this loving animal would sense something that would touch their soul. I knew what she was doing every time.

As much as Taylor believed she was a puppy, her body was aging. She could rule the backyard, the pool and the animal kingdom we had created. Regrettably, aging was one thing she could not reign over. None of us can. Her ball-throwing days began to decrease; it was too taxing on her. She had to pick between swimming or a ballgame; swimming always won. We must redefine all our relationships as we age. Taylor was no exception. We hid the balls. She looked at us, eagerly waiting for the invisible balls until she realized the balls were not coming. But that didn’t stop her. With eleven grandchildren, balls were going to be flying through the backyard and into the pool. And Taylor was determined to get them. Swimming was her passion. Though she could no longer leap out from the deep end, she was not going to show us her weaker side. Especially the kids. She was going to give them all the love and Reiki they needed.

Richard and I could tell she was slowing down. The days that followed swimming with the kids were tiring. She struggled to greet us at the door. This beautiful creature’s eyes told us a story as we would sit with her on the couch.

“I can’t get up,” she would speak in a moaning kind of chatter.

“I know, Taylor, you don’t have to get up, just stay here, I will sit with you girl, it’s o.k.” we would tell her. Then two days later, puppy Taylor would be back at the door, waving her tail as if she was two years old again. She would cause us to pause about her health and her age. We would count backwards in years, just to double check our numbers. Then the kids would come over, back in the pool she would go and then once again, she would repeat her cycle. The old woman in her and the little girl doing the dance of aging.

A few days prior to her leaving us, Richard called me outside, concerned. She had once again just laid down after swimming, a ritual she was unwilling to omit. She laid tired and slightly untouchable. He showed me some new evidence on her skin that indicated her immunity was failing. It was a Friday, late afternoon. We talked over what we should do next. Richard went back and forth in his mind about what we should do. But we agreed she would let us know. The weekend was spent with us both talking separately to our friends about our concerns, as if we knew what we knew, but couldn’t speak it to each other.

Sunday morning felt normal. She was out and about and “puppying.” We had a full day of out and about ourselves. We left the house for several hours to accomplish our feats. Arriving home around five o’clock that evening. The house felt still. Richard was leaving the next morning to go camping. He had things to do in the front yard, so I set out to the backyard to tend to the animals. The backyard was still also. There was no sign of Taylor at the door and no Taylor on the couch. Where was she? Taylor was not a runaway kind of dog, but ironically, she had gotten out of the yard just a few weeks prior. She had made a new dog and owner friend just around the corner and had enjoyed their pool. Had she seen them walking and wanted to go play again? I began searching. I headed down to the barn, went in and out of the stalls, looked under the trailer, near the fruit trees and in the bushes; no Taylor. I headed back up towards the house to make my way to the opposite side of the yard. as I was about to head down the other side, I heard Rich in the front yard.

“Richard!” I yelled, “I can’t find Taylor; she is nowhere back here!”

He immediately dropped what he was doing and followed me down the other side of our yard; her yard. We didn’t have to take more than twenty steps before we saw her laying in the golden brush that camouflaged her. Down the embankment Richard slid, swift and without caution to get to her. I followed. She was telling us, just like we knew she would. Her body was no longer a puppy. Her puppy mind had been taken over by the beautiful grandmother she didn’t even know she was. Our Taylor, Tae-Tae, Taylor-Made girl was going home.

Taylor gave Richard thirteen years of her life. She gave me eleven. And when I say gave, I mean gave. She was a gift wrapped up in creamy yellow fur, our honey dipped girl that endlessly reminded us to always play. “Life is too short. Play with me for just a little while and I promise, you will forget the pain that this life can also gift you with.”

Life had almost crushed me in the last two years, but Taylor would not allow me to slip too far; she was our healer in the backyard and Taylor-Made for us...

Thank you, Taylor, for the prodding of my hand, Reiki, and for making sure I knew…

You were always present.

Nov 28, 2006-Sept 22, 2019

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