Dealing with Death, and R.I.P Raffi, the Movie Star Dog

Raffi, August 2011

Raffi, from August 2011, taken about two weeks before his passing.

Death is one of those mysteries that informs our life, but is never really discussed in our society.  We are not taught to grieve.  And especially not over the loss of an animal companion.  Death and dying is, however, one of the things we discuss in detail during my animal shamanism classes because you want an animal professional to be clear about an animal’s last journey.

In our society, it is common practise by the veterinary profession and others to suggest an animal be “put out of his misery”, not understanding that there is a soul journey involved and a sentient being inside a furry coat with desires of their own.  Death is a natural process, like birth.  It’s only sometimes that help is needed.  And as I teach, sometimes all that is in the way of them leaving naturally, is telling us one final message, or  making one final request.

Having assisted the natural deaths of many, many animals, I am always amazed at the impeccable timing of the animal’s chosen time.  And so it was with our beloved Raffi – a passing so great that it has left all of us feeling delicate.  Having been  emotionally strong when Raffi was passing, I recognised the symptoms of my heart unravelling when Andrew and Tamsin left me alone on the normal homeschool group activity day in Canberra a few days afterwards.

Normally I love my “me” days.  I write.  I hang out with the animals.  I listen to the music and stuff I want to listen to without a teenager rolling her eyes.  But the day began with the brumbies having broken a fence, and there were cuts and loose stools and mares lying down.  The only way I could treat these wild ones was with energetic medicine, colloidal silver, and homeopathics in the drinking water.

The energy medicine worked, the mares got to their feet and the rest of the day was uneventful until I completed the evening chores with my heart suddenly pounding in my chest.  I took a deep breath and tuned into my higher guidance.  A hot water bottle was suggested.  So I lit the fire, got a hot bottle, dowsed my heart chakra in Aroma Life essential oil, and sat with my unravelling wrapped in a blanket with a hot water bottle on my chest.

It felt like my skin was raw.  The thought of the mundane, gross and shrill TV, or even movies, was horror to me.  I needed quiet and stillness.  I needed to grieve.  My chest was burning.   I thought it would burst open if I let it.   I took deep, calming breaths.  Raw and traumatised. I realised that I was holding grief for so many beloveds.  During recent ceremonies, all the killed farm animals – the so called “stock” of the meat industry –had come in for healing and release.  The heaviness in the room afterwards was palpable and it took a while to clear.  Grief was up in the animal world, and I was carrying that, as well as my own for Raffi.

It was time to let it go.

After about an hour, I had recovered enough to make dog dinners and hold the fort until Andrew got home to take over and I gratefully sunk into a deep and healing sleep.

I’m still feeling the fragility that comes with the loss of a loved one even though my head is clear, and I feel integrated and grounded again. To lose Raffi was like losing the heartbeat of our home, because he touched so many through his films and teaching.  He was officially Tamsin’s dog.  She named him the moment she saw him, exhausted, hungry and begging a place to live.  They adored each other.

Years later, his lifeless form lay on the dog bed under a yellow blanket – the colour of sunshine – which is what he was to us, to his fans, and to his animal communication students.

His passing to the world of spirit was very Raffi: charming, peaceful – and his way.  He gave orders right to the end, while we held space and offered remedies and Transition essence.

There is nothing like a life well lived, and a peaceful natural crossing to the other side.  It was an honour to sit in silence with him – and then behold his last breath and his joyful freedom.  He was thrilled to be able to see again, (he’d had cataracts) and said he would be back very soon.

I still feel his presence all around me.   Especially when it hits me that another precious beloved has left us and my heart starts to shake.  Raffi is like an angel then, a comforting blanket of unconditional love.

Raffi knew he was leaving and he knew when.  When I held him crying, and singing a song that had come through in a dream the night before, he waited patiently and gave me a little lick.  He let me grieve and I let him know how much he was loved.

I knew he was leaving, because I was crying and singing – and also because Cedar, our red heeler in spirit, left me a strong sign.

I was down at the stables and picked up a dog tag.  As soon as I read the name “Cedar”, I knew something was up.  Cedar had been gone for over a year.  She appeared in spirit and said she would look after Raffi.  And she did.  She was there at the end, waiting for him in the light.

Raffi rallied for about three weeks after that – and as often happens, looked healthier on the day he died, than he had on that day I mourned him with a song.

He was eating and enjoying life in the gentle spring sun.  He sat in his last circle of animal shamanism students, and was grateful for all the healing we did late in the night.  I kidded myself that he had changed his mind and would stay.  But he hadn’t.  He just changed his date.

Raffi came into our lives in the winter of 1999.  He turned up  on our doorstep as I was writing Finding Joy and turned out to be the perfect star.  Our telepathic connection meant that he was never trained, but he could “hit his mark” for the camera, look depressed on cue, and ad-libbed to make our film even better. Here is the song I wrote and sang for him in Finding Joy.

He was a bit annoyed he wasn’t the star of 7 Days with 7 Dogs – and had to share the lime light with the others.  But in typical Raffi form, he made sure he stole the show more than once.  He knew how to work the camera.

He hasn’t told me when he will be back or what form he will take.  He just said we would recognise him.  Our gentle, cheeky movie star, leaves a huge hole in the tapestry of our sacred weaving here at home.  A lively thread is missing — of brilliant colour.

He left me with a message to give others: “Be happy and love lots.”

And in these times of intense transition, make sure you make every day a jewel.

. . . . . .

Billie Dean

Copyright ©  Billie Dean, 2011.  Please share this article in its entirety with author’s name. 

Showing 21 comments

  1. Leah Thomas

    Loving hugs, thoughts and prayers to you all at this sad time, RIP Raffi xoxoxo

  2. Greg Campbell

    Billie, I am saddened to hear of Raffi’s passing, but grateful to hear it was such a peaceful departure and he left such a lovely message for others. My condolences to you and the family.
    Kind Regards;

  3. Lyn

    RIP dear Raffi. The ripple effect of your love continues infinitum through everyone Billie ‘touches’. I’m sure you were an angel x

  4. leah

    god bless you billie and your family
    may angels surround you

  5. Sarah

    RIP Raffi. It was a pleasure to have met you. Thinking of you all at Ballyoncree, may love and light surround you. Sarah

  6. janine

    Rest in peace, Raffi xoxoxo

  7. Lynne

    It was an honour to make your acquaintance Raffi, one of life’s truly beautiful souls. RIP x

  8. Tracey Sartari

    Hi Billie,

    I didn’t know Raffi, but may he continue to heal hearts from the spirit world.

    My thoughts are with you all,


  9. Ingrid

    Raffi will be missed and my thoughts are with you all. Sending you lots of love and hugs.

  10. Honour

    “Don’t be dismayed at goodbyes.
    A farewell is necesary before you can meet again.
    And meeting agan, after moments or lifetimes,
    is certain for those who are friends.” Richard Bach ‘Illusions’.

    So sad for your deep loss. Love to Raffi. My thoughts are with you, Billie, Andrew, & Tamsin; and Raffi’s friends too.

  11. Billie Dean

    Thank you everyone — your words mean so much to us all And to Raffi who of course — knows.

    Honour I love the quote from Richard Bach — how apt. I will have to read Illusions again.

    Deep peace and Divine love to all

  12. Jules

    Love and squeezy hugs to you all.

    Still haven’t quite got my head around the fact that Raffi won’t be there when I next visit.

    I miss his head butts and insistant barks to get his tummy rubbed. I am cuddling him in my heart.

    Love you.

    jules xo

  13. Billie Dean

    Thanks Jules — the house is not quite the same without him.

    Talk soon

    with all love
    Billie xx

  14. Nina

    So sad to hear of your loss, Even though I only met Raffi briefly, I feel blessed and honored to have done so. He touched my heart, as I feel he probably did with everyone who met him… I too see him enjoying his sight and also loving being able to run in the fields again….Lots of Love and Light to you all.

  15. Melissa Shelton

    I am forever grateful to have met Raffi in person. What an amazing soul. This quote has always brought me comfort, and I hope it does for you as well. You are all in our thoughts.

    “What we have enjoyed, we can never lose.
    All that we love deeply, becomes a part of us.”

    Much Love Always,
    Melissa, Winston, Ramie, Reiker, and all of our Animal Companions

  16. Lee

    Very sorry to hear that Raffi has moved on, Billie, Andrew, Tamsin and all his animal friends. I hope you can still feel his love surrounding you.

  17. Lisa Mc

    Can’t wait to see you again Raf.

    More squishy hugs to you Billie, Andrew and Tamsin.

    Deep peace!!

  18. amber

    When all the peoples of the lands speak of their animals the same way you do, i know peace will then be a constant blanket upon the earth.
    My Stratt (whom you met once whilst doing a reading for Matrix) was a blue heeler x. I had a deep and meaningful with him not so long ago – lots of tears. I asked him to give me a sign, just to let me know he was listening. I was entering data into columns on my computer when the cursor suddenly disappeared, that had never happened before. I could still enter the data, i just couldn’t see the cursor. The penny dropped, “Just because you can’t see me, that doesn’t mean I’m not here!!” As soon as I got it, the cursor appeared.
    Wishing you all many, many moments like this one xx

  19. Rosemary

    Its never easy when they pass over, I’m sorry for your loss. We have to love to feel loss yet knowing that someone is feeling a passing brings back the memories of all the others gone before.

  20. Gena Harmer

    Billy and family. Sorry for your lose. Raffi sounds as if he was a beautiful soul who touched all he ment in some way. As time passes I hope the pain eases. Although no longer with you in the physical sence. I am sure he will always be with you in spirit.

  21. Kristin

    I know that heartache and am feeling for you all.
    What a beautiful dedication to Raffi.

    Chi hugs

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