By Scott Riviere, North Carolina
I was born two and a half months prematurely and stayed in an incubator the whole time I was in the hospital. Upon first coming home, I was isolated from the rest of my family in the third-floor nursery. I rarely cried or moved.
My mother’s upbringing hadn’t prepared her for a baby of her own. She raised me as she had been raised, with nurses and nannies primarily responsible for infant care. I’m told that one day the nurse who always tended to me at home wasn’t on duty. My mother began telephoning friends and saying, “It’s crying. It’s crying!” Her interest in me sparked only after I grew.
Somehow, though, another Soul in our home picked up on an infant’s need for mothering.
Gigi, a small, silver-gray poodle, gave me my first taste of unconditional love. Within a couple days of my arrival at home, Gigi began checking on me in the nursery. Finally, she decided to climb into my crib with me. My family was fond of animals, and my mother was very animal oriented, so everyone was comfortable with Gigi taking up residence and watching over the new baby.
But my parents soon realized that Gigi wasn’t interested in leaving my crib after she’d settled there. Someone would have to pick her up and take her out to do her business or to eat. As soon as she finished her essential bodily functions, Gigi quickly ran up the stairs to the nursery and climbed back into the crib with me.
This routine went on for quite a while until Gigi had puppies of her own to mother. Her litter lived on the first floor of our house. Gigi would tend to her babies and then climb the stairs to spend time with me. Back and forth, she alternated several times a day between caring for her puppies and her human infant.
Gigi Makes a Choice
One day, my parents were away for the afternoon. While I slept, the nurse who took care of me must have left the nursery for a while. When my parents returned home, my mother’s first thought was to check on the puppies.
The puppies were nowhere to be found.
“Well, I’d better go upstairs and check on the baby,” my father said.
To his surprise, my father found Gigi in my crib with her entire litter. She had carried the pupppies, one-by-one, up three flights of stairs. Being a small poodle, Gigi must have been very determined. This was her solution to caring for her canine and human families. It was as if she were saying, “OK, now I’ve got this handled.”
Gigi continued to be my best childhood friend. She shared in the joy of sitting next to me as I drove my first peddle car. At an amusement park, when I rode a little boat that circled around a pole, I sat in the front seat with Gigi in the other seat behind me.
Gigi gave me my first experience of unconditional love during early childhood when I was most vulnerable. Because of her, animals have become a touchstone throughout my life. My relationships with animals are real and authentic, and I continue to make instantaneous connections with them.
Years later, I began studying the teachings of Eckankar, with the Mahanta as my inner spiritual guide. The Mahanta says to chelas (spiritual students), “I am always with you.” I realized that my childhood relationship with Gigi had helped me understand the truth of this promise. Her love showed me that the inner, loving presence of the Mahanta had always been with me.
—Photos by Scott Riviere
I love this blog and these wonderful sweet stories of Love from animals.
beautiful story of unconditional love
Unconditional love ❤️. What a beautiful experience shared. I love animals
Last night I was walking my neighbour’s dog, my neighbour has cancer and dog walks are not something she can do. Out in the woods the dog was startled by a firework and headed off. I looked for her for ages then as night fell I walked sadly back to my neighbour’s house having asked for the Mahanta’s help. The dog had got herself safely home across busy roads. She had sat outside her house, unable to open the front door and a passerby knocked for her. The woman who knocked turned out to have survived the same rare cancer that my neighbour has and to be very keen to walk the dog herself. So now my neighbour has someone who really understands to discuss her treatment with and we have another dogwalker. The ECK is just amazing in the way it works to help people.
Thank you for sharing your love story with Gigi.
waoh, what a beautiful experience. love knows no boundaries..
I continue to be amazed and thankful for animals. This story was a wonderful and touching story. Thank you, Scott and Gigi!
This story is so touching! Yes, the Mahanta is as near as our heartbeat, as close as our breath. I have experienced this unconditional love many times.
This is the most delightful story. I love Gigi! What a devoted and clever friend.