- Michelle Corp
With Love to Yogi Bisous 2009-2022
Oh how our fur babies show us the ways & depths for which our hearts can expand. An elasticity that can take one's breath away at times. I remember when I was five years old, our family dog, T.J., which stood for Tom Jones, passed away. My parents bought the schnauzer when they first got together. He was 13 when he crossed over - I was 5. It was the first time I saw my dad cry.
I would not rescue my own first fur baby until I was 35 in 2009. I had just moved to Milbank Street in Studio City, Ca renting from my Chère Mamma who had many fur babies; mostly rescued. There were 3 other dogs on the property & I felt the desire to take the journey into becoming a mamma.
I went to the Van Nuys shelter with my friend Meg, a dog trainer, who said that dogs 'pick you'. Cesar Milan, the Dog Whisperer, was there and I knew that was a sign I'd find my baby. I saw her at the back corner of the cage in a little black & white swirl. She ran up to me with those cute ears & soulful eyes. I asked to see her outside of the cage.
When they took her out of the cage, she literally jumped from the floor all the way into my arms & 'tree hugged' me - wrapping her legs around me. One of her many amazing tricks! Meg looked at me, "You've been chosen," she smiled. I stood in awe, my face being bathed in kisses by this happy dog. I named her Bisous, which means 'kisses' in French.
Thus began our adventures together. She played with her friends Zena, Buckley, & Leon & her Auntie Sera (my Chère Mamma) for 3 years on Milbank before I met Nick, my boyfriend, in 2011. We moved in together in the fall of 2012 and Zoo left her home behind to meet her new friend Cha Cha & my neighbors - her Auntie Kai Kai & Michelle, who always left their doors open when we were at work for Zoo to come and play.
In 2013 we rescued Babette & she fell right into her new home & playful friendship with Bisous. Bisous, also known as Bee Bee, Zoo Zoo, and the Beez, loved going to the beach & to the Hollywood Park, taking hikes, playing tug-o-war, chasing Babette (who she could never quite catch), burying her toys, climbing ladders (Nick taught her), and catching treats like a Ninja.
She had a love affair that was truly unexplainable with my best friend Byron Beane. The two of them were fascinating to watch. That baby loved him so much. I genuinely believe they were soul mates together from a past life. Sometimes she cheated on him with Nick, but he was always her true 'one & only.'
In 2017 Nick & I consciously parted ways & still maintain a great friendship today. He & his lady watch the babies when I teach yoga abroad & he still comes to visit & play. Zoo settled into teaching Babette ways to lead and we had a front yard to play in and a river to run around with Auntie Winter & her babies Roo & Trixie.
3 days into the pandemic lock down in March of 2020, Zoo went blind. I was in shock. It was at that time we found out she had cushings - a liver disease, so she was unable to handle anesthesia for surgeries. Being my willful baby, she found her way. That year she still ran around the river, entrusting me to lead her. I was in awe of her courage & tenacity. Covid was a gift at that time, because I stayed home like the rest of the world for 2 years. It was a renaissance for dogs. 4 and sometimes 5 walks a day, tons of play time, and I could be there fully in her greatest time of need.
It was after I returned from the Iceland Yoga Retreat in 2021 that her health took a turn. She was developing scoliosis & tumors on her body. She was also losing the use of her back legs. Her poor belly ballooned from the liver disease and she now weighed 35 pounds. I had to carry her everywhere, even to her water dish. It was heartbreaking watching this decline. Our nights became brutal, getting up 3, sometimes 4 times in a night. We reached a breaking point early this month.
My Chère Mamma & Nick both said it was time. So, on Easter Sunday, before bedtime, I laid with her for an hour on the floor. I recanted her amazing life, apologized for my angry outbursts in the middle of the night from sheer exhaustion, and as I kissed her all over, I couldn't thank her enough for choosing me. I told her to tell me when it 'was time', because I just couldn't make the decision. I was scared.
The next day was our most challenging - she told me. I scheduled the ceremony of passage for 8pm the following day at home so she could feel safe in her own bed surrounded by love. I posted on social media for all to come and celebrate her life before she said goodbye. I was in awe of what happened.
People & puppies started showing up at 10am with food, cards, flowers, and stories of fur babies passed on. So many came, I can't even count. There was laughter, tears, puppy kisses & cuddles, and prayers & chants for my baby Zoo. It truly was her day. Texts and calls came in all day - friends, students, & loved ones let me know that they were sending their own pets who'd passed on to come and help my sweet Zoo cross over. The love was profound.
That evening was powerful and the doctor showed up to my open screen door with a bouquet of flowers and I swear that she was a born angel. She told me she does this work because..."just look at all this love." I felt she had been sent - she was ethereal.
I spooned my baby as the shots were being given. The first gave me time to again recount her adventures, kiss her face as she had always done mine, and say how lucky I was she chose me. She taught me how to be a mother. She taught me patience, responsibility, that it's not about me, how to be present, how to play, and most of all....how to receive big real love.
When it was time, I said, as I always do when it's time to walk or go out to the park...."C'est les temps pour les chiens." It's time for puppies! Bisous! I sobbed, it's time my love! "C'est les temps pour les chiens!" I gave her permission to go....and she did. My tears and heart spilled out onto the floor in all directions. Love knows no bounds.
I gave Babette a moment to say goodbye and then Auntie Sera, who had been with me through the ceremony, told me to take her out for a walk & that she would carry Zoo to the car. I couldn't watch that. I bow in humble and deep gratitude to my Chère Mamma. I don't know what I would've done with out you Sera. I love you.
Zoo was being taken to be cremated. Her ashes & paw print will arrive in a few weeks. My Chère & I will bury her under the orange tree where she grew up on Milbank Street.
It's been 4 days, and Babette and I are finding our new rhythm. Yogi Babette likes to move, and is helping me to remember my own advice to my students, that movement is medicine. We are about to go on a walk as I finish this blog. She is teaching me to take breaks, play, and sit in all this love.
Thats what it's all about. Love. Love, all day long. Animals open our heart chakra in more ways than one. I loved how Zoo Zoo would look at me - those big oceanic soulful eyes...those big love orbs...all that love just for me. Sometimes I couldn't take it all in. I would get tickles in my tummy and my heart felt like it swelled when she looked up at me like that.
That was her biggest lesson to me...I see it all now. "Just let the love in mamma. Let the love in." I'm doin it baby! I promise. So. Much. Love!