Sometimes when we look at the clouds, we imagine all kinds of shapes: human faces, animals, castles, cities and who-knows-what-else. But it’s only our imagination, right?
Maybe… Maybe not.
Joan and Nick’s young daughter was a big fan of hockey player Curtis Joseph, commonly known on the ice as CuJo. So, that was the name they gave their new beagle pup—until they realized “Cujo” originated from a well-known horror film that featured a rabid St. Bernard dog. Thereafter, that rambunctious beagle became known as “Kuj”, “The Kuj” and even “Kuji.”
Kuji enjoyed making the house his personal race track and obstacle course, diving under furniture, hopping on top of furniture, running in circles—and he loved food; not just dog food, but human food, too. Hamburgers and hot dogs were among his favourites. The family used to joke that Kuj would be a master chef in his next life, he appreciated food so much.
But by the time he was three years old, Kuji’s constant running and jumping meant that he needed surgery on his overworked back legs. Kuj’s recovery was long and arduous. It required hours of just sitting with Kuj to keep him from moving while his surgery healed.
Nick ended up doing most of the dog sitting, and a strong bond of love grew between him and Kuj because of it. For many years afterward, they played together, walked together and took great pleasure in each other’s company.
“Nick would take The Kuj on his daily stroll, and The Kuj was overjoyed to walk along with his nose to the ground, sniffing everything, as beagles do,” explains Joan.
Then came the sad news that, at age 13, The Kuj had developed tumours in his back. Minor surgeries helped stall their progress for about six months, but there came a time when The Kuj could no longer eat or lift himself from the floor. Joan sat with him one day feeling very sad about the decision her family was going to have to make.
“I had heard that sometimes you can talk to your pet and they can answer you back in an image or in words inside your own head,” says Joan. “I was in tears as I asked The Kuj, ‘Are you ready to go?’ To my shock, he said ‘Yes!’
“With great sadness we took The Kuj to the vet and allowed The Kuj to go to sleep and be free of pain and a body that just didn’t work anymore.
“It helped me to deal with the loss of The Kuj because I had heard him say that he was ready to go.”
But the end of The Kuj’s earthly life was a big blow to Nick. He felt the loss of his beloved friend very keenly. Then, one day during an international airplane flight, Nick was relaxing to the sounds of James Brown in his earphones singing I Feel Good.
As Nick’s gaze drifted toward the window, he saw something extraordinary: A cloud formation in the shape of Snoopy, the popular beagle of Peanuts fame—wearing a chef’s hat. Nick knew right away what this image meant for him and his family.
“The Kuj was once again energetically twirling around, flipping hamburgers and cooking hot dogs,” says Joan.
“The experiencing of this sky image, accompanied by the musical message ‘I feel good’, greatly helped both of us to know that our beloved Kuj was in heaven, literally and figuratively.”
At The Meaning of Forever Project, we know that the bond of love between humans and animals can be very strong, and that—just as with our human loved ones—when our pets leave this life, that love continues.
Does Nick’s experience with The Kuj trigger something in you? Have you thought you lost a pet only to find that your beloved animal still existed elsewhere in another form? If so, we would love to hear from you through our website and blog, on Facebook, or by emailing us at email@example.com
You can help us put together a book about the continuation of life, and how comforting experiences with departed loved ones have smoothed the transition for many people who might otherwise be left believing their loved ones were completely lost to them.
At the Meaning of Forever Project our aim is to demonstrate, through stories like these, that the ones we love are not lost, just changed, and that love lives forever.