When we think of what indigenous people have in common, one word comes to mind: dreams. Whether Native American, aborigine, Maori, or some other culture that seems to have a capacity for connecting heaven and earth, dreams are always a major part of their lives. Unlike our high-tech, logical, cynical world where nothing is deemed worthwhile unless scientists can prove it, these peoples have learned to trust the messages from dreams. They understand that dreams are doorways to the spiritual worlds.
A White Dove for Gunner and Tootsie
Joe and Jean Jeffries, a couple from Iowa, weren’t necessarily into noticing the spiritual elements of life. Joe was a commercial truck driver, and his wife Jean was an executive secretary. After Jean’s profound dream, however, they received a blessing in the form of proof that all creatures are connected. We published their story below in our Angel Animals Story of the Week newsletter.
Because we write about the spiritual relationships between people and animals, we often experience the way dreams and animals connect. Sometimes, our readers send stories about animals coming to them, as souls, in the dreamstate. Perhaps the following stories will remind you of your own dreamtimes with animals.
One night, Allen was awakened by Linda having a rough dream. Her arms were thrashing about, and she was mumbling in her sleep.
Then Allen noticed that our black-and-white cat Cuddles had jumped up on the bed and hovered over Linda’s pillow. With great gentleness, Cuddles put her paw on Linda’s forehead in the spot between the eyebrows. (Some religious teachings call this area on the forehead the spiritual eye.) Cuddles kept her paw on the forehead for a moment until Linda quieted down and returned to a peaceful sleep. Linda’s kitty protector must have chased away the dream monsters. The next morning, when Allen told her what he had observed, Linda didn’t remember the dream, but she was grateful for the nocturnal presence of her protective cat friend.
Tootsie girl came to Jean’s home in March of 1995, just five months old and full of vigor. Jean wanted to keep Tootsie in the kitchen so she installed a child’s doorway fence. After putting the fence in place she proceeded up the stairs. Moments later, there was Tootsie right behind her. Thinking the fence had been pushed out, Jean returned to the kitchen to find the fence still in place. It was as if Tootsie had springs in her legs. With a bounce, over the fence she went. (Her AKC registered name became “Bouncy Bonnie Lass”.)
When Jean met Tootsie, the dog’s name was Missy, which became Midge after she moved in with Jean. One day while talking on the phone to Joe, her future husband, Jean said, “I need to take Toots out.” From then on, the dog’s name became Tootsie.
Jean tried to do the right things like enrolling Tootsie into puppy kindergarten. Tootsie tried really hard to follow the rules but had a difficult time being a good student. With practice, Tootsie learned to sit for a treat and when out walking with Jean, she would stop and sit before crossing the street. She loved retrieving the ball and Joe would play catch with her many times a day.
Gunner dog moved in with Joe a few months after Jean brought Tootsie home. Gunner had been a show dog but grew too large and so did not qualify for showing any longer. Gunner was very well mannered, loved to eat, but didn’t know how to play ball. When he met Tootsie, he learned very fast, and the competition began.
Gunner would always run the ball back when he retrieved it, ready for another toss. Tootsie would sometimes hold the ball and not return it right away, which frustrated Gunner for a moment but he was very, very patient. If the tossed ball went under a chair or table where he couldn’t get to it, he would stare at it until someone noticed and pulled out the ball to throw for him again. Sometimes Tootsie would dive under wherever the ball had landed and retrieve it.
Before Joe and Gunner had moved into Jean’s home, feeding time was not of particular interest to Tootsie. If Jean stayed in the kitchen next to her, Tootsie would munch away. The minute Jean left, Tootsie would grab three or four pieces of food and follow; then drop the food and only munch one at a time.
Gunner lived to eat, and feeding time was very important to him. Tootsie soon found out if she didn’t keep her head down, Gunner would dive in. While the food bowls were being prepared, Gunner would sit patiently and whine about how hungry he was. Tootsie would spring up and down, up and down, until the dishes were ready. This soon became known as “Feeding Time at the Zoo.”
Jean and Joe called Gunner and Tootsie “the kids.” The two dogs loved to play ball and tug of war and to go for walks. Tootsie never missed a chance to be the boss and would tease Gunner until he couldn’t ignore her any longer. A couple of times she pushed Gunner too far, nipping at his ear and growling, and he gave a swat to make her leave him alone. Their disagreements didn’t last too long, and they were soon best buddies again.
Both dogs lived long, healthy, and loving lives — Gunner to fourteen and a half years, and Tootsie to fifteen and a half years. They each eventually began to lose strength in their back legs. It became very hard for them to go up and down stairs or walk very far. Gunner went to the Rainbow Bridge a year before Tootsie. Jean and Joe missed him so much. Every Monday night they would light a candle and remember their special Gunner Dog. Needless to say, Tootsie then became even more pampered.
After Gunner was gone, Tootsie had a particularly bad time. One day, after trudging up the stairs she lost balance and tumbled all the way down. She didn’t get hurt; no broken bones, but her ego was bruised. She had been struggling to get around, not particularly interested in eating, and her little body was just wearing out.
One night soon after the fall on the stairs, Tootsie came to Jean in a dream. Wagging her tail, Tootsie said, “Please, oh, please, I want to go see Gunner now.” That’s how we knew our second best buddy was ready to go to the Rainbow Bridge.
Joe and Jean kept Gunner and Tootsie’s cremains with the intent to bury them when they planted a couple of new bushes in front of their house to honor the two dogs. Weeks and months went by. The topic of burying the cremains came and went until the couple finally decided what to do. They would refurbish their rock garden by moving some bushes they wanted to keep, pulling out some they didn’t want any longer, and adding new plants.
They ordered two special six-inch rectangular stones and had the kids’ names and paw prints etched on them — one for Gunner and one for Tootsie.
On Monday, October 11, 2010, Joe and Jean were talking with their gardeners, as they worked, and sharing stories of the kids with them. The couple told the gardeners that they had decided to put cremains of both dogs in the same spot, since Gunner and Tootsie had been inseparable during all those wonderful years as a family.
Neighbors came over to see what they were doing. All of a sudden a bird with white wings swooped down over Jean’s head and then perched on the small roof above our garage door. It was a white dove.
At first, they were all stunned and then completely mesmerized by this beautiful bird. The dove stayed nearly five minutes — long enough for Jean to walk into the house, fetch the camera, and snap a picture. This beautiful bird was very calm, staring down at them. Then the dove flew off as quietly and quickly as it appeared.
That evening Joe and Jean couldn’t stop talking about the white dove appearing just as they had been preparing to bury Gunner and Tootsie’s cremains. The cremains had been stored in boxes from their veterinarian, Dr. Barb Rush. The next day, Joe returned the boxes to Dr. Barb and told her about the white dove. She said, “It was the kids.”
White doves are not a native or common bird in Iowa. Nor are they typically kept in cages as pets. Joe and Jean believe that this dove was definitely sent by the kids who wanted them to know the two dogs were doing just fine.
What the Jeffries experienced is called a waking dream. Like a dream that occurs during sleep, the waking dream can be interpreted. It is an outer confirmation, or a message, that Divine Spirit sends to help a person make a decision, let someone know he or she made the right decision, or deliver an unmistakable message of comfort or healing.
It has been our experience that animals are often the angelic messengers for waking dream spiritual experiences. Perhaps, as many of the indigenous people seem to understand, it is in the nature of animals to be deeply connected with Spirit, and when one of us dense humans needs to know something, they are open to bringing us the blessing of reassurance.
Allen and Linda Anderson are the founders of the Angel Animals Network and authors of a series of books published by New World Library about the spiritual connection between people and animals. Dogs and the Women Who Love Them: Extraordinary True Stories of Loyalty, Healing, and Inspiration is their newest book in the Angel Animals series published by New World Library. Subscribe to the Andersons’ free, online newsletter at www.angelanimals.net and follow them on Facebook and Twitter@angelanimals.