Tashi has been adopted by Jeff Davis and is now protecting the Kagyu Center in the forests of Tennessee. Take a look at the heart-warming story below.
The Story of Tashi Bear (The New old Bear)
by Jeffrey Edward Davis
Background: Lama Karma Chötso (LKC) and the sangha of Kagyu Shedrup Chöling in Miami, Florida bought my house there in 2003 to become the Dharma Center or Lama Residence. This certainly opened the door to the Dharma path for me. Soon after (2004 – 2005), I had the good fortune to travel with Lama Norlha Rinpoche to Bodhgaya, India, Sherab Ling, and Nepal. After the second trip, I stumbled upon and was able to purchase the Dharma land in Tennessee that is central to Milarepa Ösel Chö Dzong (MOCD), Lama Norlha Rinpoche’s name for the Happy Valley retreat center that he founded. Then in July 2006, LKC was one of our first visitors.
When I bought the land in Happy Valley, there was a black dog living there. Apparently, he’d never been let out of his dog run. The couple I bought the house from said they couldn’t bring the dog to their new house in town where there was no yard. I don’t think they could have gotten him out of the dog run by that time, much less into the car. When I looked deep into his saucer-like eyes, it was as if he was saying to me, “Please buy this place and save my life.” The owners were happy when I said the dog could stay. I asked the man, Mr. Fred Reed, the dog’s name and age. He said he was about 2 years old but wasn’t sure and after an awkward pause said, “His name is Buckshot.” I was more than happy to let the little guy stay. At first, he was fierce with strangers, but I made friends with him quickly, using lots of treats, MANI mantras, and head pats but it still took months to coach him out of that pen where he’d spent his life so far.
When LKC came, the week after I bought the house, the first thing she said was, “Buckshot is no name for this dog. Let’s call him ‘Bear’.” She offered me many tips for training Bear and he turned into a great pet. Lama Norlha Rinpoche visited Happy Valley a few months later. One evening when Bear was barking like crazy at something in the woods, Jamdron asked me why he was barking. Rinpoche responded, “That dog sees things others do not see…he’s a Mahakala dog.”Bear had not only found a home but also a job to do. Anyone living in the woods realizes the need for a dog’s protection from snakes and other varmints coming too close to the house.
Sadly, however, I only had Bear with me for about six years. He was killed the first week of July 2011. I and others had gone to Washington DC to see His Holiness Dalai Lama, so I wasn’t home when it happened. From the evidence, we believe he was killed by three pit bulls owned by people who had recently moved into the valley.
Bear had died tragically and I was devastated. Then Lama Karma and Lama Samten moved from the monastery in New York State to Happy Valley to be the resident lamas at MOCD. This was in mid-August, just one week before the 49th day of Bear’s death. The lamas did a special fire puja offering for the old Bear and that was a major healing of heartfelt wounds. It also was a great antidote for the deep sense of loss of my beloved dog, who had always protected the house and property. Really, Bear had never left the Dharma land till the fateful day he was killed.
Around mid-Dec 2011, four or five months after the old Bear died, serendipitously, magically or through karma, two sangha members of KSC in Miami found a black puppy maybe three weeks old under their car. A week or two before this, the puppies of their female had all been adopted and the mother dog happily took this small puppy into her care. However, the two students, a married couple, soon discovered they were going to have a baby and with their own dogs and the pregnancy, decided they couldn’t keep the puppy as much as they were attached to him. So, Lama Karma Chötso said she would foster him until a good home could be found. Lama named the puppy “Tashi” and trained him well. (Now no one can believe he’s just seven months old. Very mature dog!)
Tashi stayed at KSC through March, April and May, 2012. Lama Karma Chötso really took to the puppy and they bonded so quickly that her other dog, Sengay, became quite upset. It took weeks before he would play with Tashi and accept him. Lama didn’t intend to have another dog, always saying, “One cat, one dog and one human are enough!” but for some reason, couldn’t put him up for adoption. So she began doing divinations (Tibetan ‘mo’) to see if it was time to find him another home, but every time she asked, the answers were very negative. Twice the answer was “death and disaster” so, of course, she felt she couldn’t send Tashi away. That was why she began training him to be part of the sangha — although it changed everything for her, for Sengay and definitely for the cat, Ching Hu who didn’t like being chased around his own territory.
Then, on May 23rd, Jim and I drove down to Miami to attend a 5-day Meditation Intensive at KSC. When I entered the main house, I saw this 6 month-old-puppy that looked like the old Bear. Actually, and quite remarkably, the old Bear and new pup are practically identical! They are both mainly black; are part Labrador but with long legs; they have similar white chest markings; and, each had/has a back paw with one white toe. Needless to say, I made an instant connection with this puppy, so in the morning when Lama came to start the Intensive, I pointed out the similarities to her and asked what she thought. She said, “I think I should do some mo’s about this.” When she did the divination she asked, “Is Tashi the incarnation of Bear?” The answer was an unmistakable “yes!” Then, she asked, “Is he supposed to go back to Happy Valley and be the protector of the Dharma Center there?” Again, the answer was a clear “YES!”
That morning, Lama Karma Chötso came up to the main house and said, “Jeffrey, he’s Bear, he’s yours and he’s supposed to go home with you.” Then she changed his name to “Tashi Bear” (the auspicious Bear). On Tuesday morning, Tashi Bear got in the car with Jim and me and survived the long drive home to Happy Valley.
Is this coincidental or pure karma? Not one of us cares. I’m happy to have Tashi Bear! Thanks to Lama Karma Chötso for this wonderful gift! Thanks also to MOCD resident Lamas (Karma and Samten) for so kindly accepting Tashi Bear to be part of our Happy Valley Dharma family. Here’s some pictures of him at his new home.