When another rampage of kennel cough swept through the shelter, I took home a couple dogs to give them a break from the isolation kennels. As soon as I saw Panza, I knew she would be coming home with me.
She had the heart of an Amazon warrior, but needed to temper her passion to live in these calmer times. She pushed every one of my buttons and forced me to look at ugly things within myself, especially the anger that still burst from me at times. I learned so much in the short time she was with us. Yet I didn’t learn enough to save her life.
She was being aggressive in the isolation kennels and continued to show aggression toward my other dogs. She attacked my wise and gentle Lab twice. I gave her one warning and a second chance, then took her back to the shelter.
I spent as much time with her as I could. On her second day back, she led me through the parking lot, past all the other cars and to my Jeep. There she stopped, put her paw on the tail gate, looked at me, and said she wanted to go home with me. I told her I couldn’t tolerate any fights and especially no challenges to Goliath.
The next day, she mouthed the arm of a volunteer dog walker at the shelter–didn’t break the skin–but she knew she was making the choice to go Home.
As soon as I got the call she was to be euthanized, she started communicating with me. She was ready to go Home. She didn’t want any more play time or a last meal, she had a hot date with a male dog that afternoon across the Rainbow Bridge, so I needed to get out to the shelter so she could transition.
Through my tears, she made me laugh.
When writing this book, Panza told me: "I came for you. You have learned what you needed to know and now I can go Home."
Whenever a niggling sense of failure comes up that I should have learned something more that could have saved her, Panza reminds me that dogs do not view this physical life as humans do. When their mission here is done, they transition to other realms, some of them nonphysical. If they want to return to this physical plane, they do.
How could humans benefit from this attitude?