“OK, Blue Bear, today we’re going to learn the
alphabet. You have to pay attention.
This is an “A” and This is a “B” and This is a
“C”… Can you say them?,” said the sweet,
slightly sing-song voice of the child from behind
her closed door.

All very serious and no nonsense.
Maybe you’ve been lucky to have been invited
to a delightful, magical tea party between your
child and her Teddy Bear and floppy-eared
puppy, and maybe a very worn monkey with
bright shiny eyes.
You were taught the alphabet, and how to drink
from a tiny tea cups, blot your lips with a real
napkin, and be included in the real world of
wonder-filled toy animals.
And what fun it was to play make-believe.
Except maybe, it wasn’t so “make believe.”
Maybe the toy animals had real lives that my
daughter knew and realized- and I couldn’t. At
least not right away.

Had I lost belief in the reality of this simple,
innocent world?

When I was invited to be the “grown up up
guest of honor” with my younger daughter, I
remember lively chats with a giraffe and an
And an elephant too.
The animals were so real.
How could they not be.
They pick up the energies of our kids and our
homes, and all the living, the life that takes
place there. They become family members.
Children (and grown ups) sleep with them, talk
to them, confess and confide in them.
They see our tears and listen to our stories,
and so they become part of our lives; of our
family, absorbing all the life around them.
Taking in who we are and how we live.

Ever wonder why kids don’t want their blanket
or toy animal washed?
Because they know washing them washes
away the deep bond.
A washing machine is no place for a real friend!
There’s a lot written about Spirit Animals
and how they show up when you need them.
And I have marveled at how animals open our
hearts and comfort us-so why wouldn’t our toy

or “stuffed” animals do the same?

The truth is, if you’ve held and looked deeply
into the eyes of a play bear or ducky or panda,
it’s impossible not to sense some kind of life
and emotion there. A Spirit.
When they look back at you, it’s as if they know
who you are and recognize what you’re all

But at some point, our animal friends are taken
from us, and surreptitiously put away.
We have to “grow up,” go to school, make new
friends, go to dances.
And so begins the first ache of separation.
The first pang of loneliness.
Years later, the childhood doggy will be found
by someone, someday, someplace in the attic.
It will still hold the love and memories of
precious, childhood times, when we were all
more innocent and hopeful.
As you hug the bear tightly and recall those
precious years, you’ll wonder where they all
went, and why they passed so quickly.
You’ll probably cry some.
I did.

But the teddy bears and floppy-eared dogs and
soft, blue-eyed kittens always remember us and
the times we had together.

They gave and received so much love, and
none of it is gone; none of it is lost.
How can it it be otherwise?
Just ask the forever Tigger and Winnie!
They know our kids better than we ever will.
They know us, more than we ever did.

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About the Author: Kaleel Sakakeeny
Kaleel Sakakeeny is an ordained Animal Chaplain and Credentialed Pet Loss and Bereavement Counselor, one of very few in the country. He also has BA, MA, and MS degrees, and is certified in Reiki, EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) and Animal Communication, which helps him tremendously in his work with people and animals. Kaleel specializes in grief and sorrow counseling for those who have lost their pet to death. He is very accessible, and looks forward to working with you individually or in a group setting. He especially loves working with small groups in workshops, schools, community centers and churches – talking about the beautiful bond between people and their animals. And, addressing your questions about love, loss and our animal companions. Please say “hi” and introduce yourself!

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