Content and title copyright Christine Palm Shaughness. No reproduction allowed.

The Trumpeter in the Woods
Chapter One – Blame It on the Dog (part two)

I was not aware of a wish to change my life. Something came upon me like a soft whisper at first then grew into an inescapable shout. The animals showed me a new path – to leave behind the traditional corporate career and be their voice. I was no longer allowed to be asleep in my life. These are the chronicles of my path to fulfill my passion, to listen to the voice, to find God – with the help of the animals, to help the animals.

Was it Caper’s doing? Was she sent to be my guide into this new life? Some days I look at her photo, those soft yet intense eyes boring into me, and curse her for dragging me into a new life where I no longer recognize my old self. Other days, I praise Caper for being my guide and trusting angel. I’ve become a different person and I’m not sure if I like it. How did I get here and where was the happy-go-lucky gal who used to turn off all of the lights, blast disco music and dance in the dark? I miss that person, someone who didn’t worry or analyze life as if her next breath or dollar earned depended on it. Exactly when did the dancer go away? Will she ever come back or is this my new forever? You must be thinking, “Well just go back home!” Whoever said it was correct, “You can never go back.” I was changed forever, so I had to deal with it.

Was it Caper’s doing or was the fault mine alone when I decided to leave my ex-husband? Or maybe it was when I moved to Delaware in 1994 after living in the same 15–mile circumference area near Timonium, Maryland for 37 years? “You’re going to love the dog more than you love me,” were the words of my then-husband when I adopted Caper in 1988 as a small fuzzy puppy from the animal shelter down the street from my house.

So maybe it was the dog who instigated my journey to a new life, a path to find myself, to be a voice for the animals, to connect with God. Indeed, I did love her more than my husband. He had insisted we not get a dog for the first six years of our marriage. And I listened to him as a dutiful wife, willing to compromise for the sake of the relationship. He finally relented when we moved into a home in the country, about 10 miles north of Timonium. He said the dog could be protection for me when he was working so many long hours. Those hours he spent away from the marriage bonded me to Caper all the more. She was my joy, my salvation. She gave me the love I was missing from the relationship with my husband. Four years later in November 1992, she and I moved out of that dream house in the country and struck out on our own: to adventure, to freedom, to a small one-bedroom apartment, to paralyzing fear and decisions that changed the course of my life forever.

It wasn’t until Caper’s passing in 2002 that I really became aware of where my life was going. I awoke from a dream one morning right after her death and heard a voice saying, “it’s a big world, you have to have a voice.”

Who said that? The voice was as clear as if someone sharing my pillow were whispering in my ear. I wasn’t afraid that there was really someone there; I knew the voice came from inside of me. Maybe it was a message from Caper, maybe it was God, or maybe it was just me. But I knew what the voice was telling me. I had to write and speak for the animals.