Do you believe in pet reincarnation? I think I do. Especially after this crazy experience.

August 23, 2019 was the day when the tragedy hit us. We were on our way to Las Vegas for a weekend, drove nearly six hours from LA with our kids, and as just we arrived in ‘Vegas we got a call from our dog sitter, telling us that our beloved dog, Koobeh had managed to escape, been hit by a car, and died on the spot.

This is not a story about the unbearable weight of grief and guilt over the loss of a being who I referred to as “my older child.” It was not the first dog I had to say goodbye to (we said goodbye to Dreyfus two years before our kids were born). But the sudden death, the fact that I didn’t get to say goodbye to him, and the thoughts of the fear that he must have felt during these moments when we weren’t there with him, haunt me to this day – and probably forever.

After Koobeh’s death I was mentally destroyed, for weeks. I looked for ways to be consoled everywhere. I looked for someone or something that would be able to heal my broken, bleeding heart. One of the ways was to go back to a book my late therapist gave me when Dreyfus died. It’s called Animals and the Afterlife. The book chronicles research on animal communicators – for both living animals, and those who’ve died. The book inspired me to research animal communicators who specialize in deceased animals. I scheduled a call with one of them, Laura Stinchfield, at the beginning of January this year. And I was stunned by the details she provided.

“I know that we want to be together longer and so I am coming back,” Koobeh ‘said to me’ through Laura. “There is this man, both my dads know him, he will [lead us to the puppies].”

“I am going to be in one of the puppies. You know my paws. They are about the same size.”

Was it really Koobeh talking to me? Who knows? But regardless, I decided to follow my own hunch in finding our next dog, and by that I mean to listen carefully to “signs” that the universe sends me. And this is what I did:

First, I made sure all of our friends knew that we were ready to get another dog. I followed every lead that came from “a friend that both me and Alex know.” Nothing was actually leading to a puppy. Until suddenly it did.

Our neighbor got a new sweet dog that reminded me of Koobeh a lot. I asked him where he’d gotten her and he mentioned a rescue place, Ozzie and Friends Rescue. I checked the place’s Instagram with pictures dogs for adoption – and there she was. Nala with the eight puppies.

I clicked with “Nala” right away because of our family-like friends’ dog, named Nala, who I often babysat and who died shortly after Koobeh last year. We called Ozzie and Friends and they told us that they keep the puppies with their mama until they are 8 weeks old — but all of the puppies were already adopted.

At the beginning I thought I’d give up. Maybe it’s not meant to be. But the thought of Nala’s puppies didn’t leave. So after a couple of weeks I texted them, again. “Actually,” wrote the manager, “one of the people who said they’d take a puppy has backed out.”

“We’re coming to see him. Like, today,” I said.

We took our kids and drove an hour and a half to meet the puppy. When we got there, there was a song playing on the radio that goes “one foot in the past, one foot in the future…” to me it felt like another sign.

When the foster family told us that this puppy is the only boy in the litter, and how his previous adoptive family just disappeared, I started feeling that the universe is playing a part here, and something is meant to be. Also his birth date: August 27, 2020. Almost exactly a year after our tragedy (in fact, it’s exactly a year after our original plan to return from Vegas). But I still wasn’t sure. So I asked him. “Are you Koobeh?” – and he gave me one lick on my nose. That was it for me.

People say that we see what we want to see, but resemblance between Charlie and Koobeh is undeniable. They sit in the exact same spots in the house. Charlie picks on the exact same shoes that Koobeh did when he was a puppy, and as Charlie has grown he looks more and more like Koobeh – it’s almost scary. In fact, they look so similar right now that half the time we call Charlie we actually say Koobeh. It’s the same brown thing that was around the house all the time.

Another weird thing is that when I talked to Laura after Koobeh died, Koobeh ‘mentioned’ that “he learns to walk only on his back legs.” And now Charlie does this a lot when he wants something. He stands up on his hind legs and it’s so cute!

So… do I believe in reincarnation? I do, but I don’t trust myself enough to accept it as “fact.” I scheduled another call with Laura (the first available time she had was…. on the same exact date as my first call – only a year later), so I’ll keep you posted. But I’d love to hear YOUR stories about pets’ afterlife. It’s just heartwarming. And if there’s something we need right now—it’s heartwarming.

Maybe one final note about my husband, Alex. I think it’s safe to say that he doesn’t believe in reincarnation and “animal communication with the dead.” I think Alex was devastated by the loss of Koobeh (and he has experienced more than his share of loss in 4- and 2-legged family in his life). I’ve spoken to him a lot about this over the past year and I was surprised at his response to my suggestions of reincarnation, etc. While he may not accept that we might literally talk to Koobeh from “the beyond,” he takes the idea that “those we love live on in us” a lot more seriously than just the words. There is a kind of magic he seems to experience when he talks about those he cherishes who have died, a sense so vivid that it makes me realize we both hear and feel Koobeh and are so much better off for it.