Friday, September 27, 2013


I'm sad to report that my sweet, sweet dog Chloe (also known as Gopi) died very suddenly and very unexpectedly this morning, from hemangiosarcoma. Basically, she had tumors on her spleen and lungs which burst quite suddenly, causing severe internal hemorrhaging. Apparently this particular sarcoma is difficult to detect until it's too late. I had no idea she was sick and thought that any lethargic behavior she had been displaying the past two weeks was related to the dog-attack in early September. (She was mauled by another dog while under the care of a dog-sitter). Anyway, when I came home from NYC late last night, she could barely walk, and didn't give me her usual high-spirited greeting. In fact, her personality seemed to be absent. And her abdomen was bloated. And her feet were cold. My poor sweetie. I realized she was seriously ill and took her straight to an emergency veterinary clinic in Poughkeepsie. 

The vet at the emergency clinic actually advised me to euthanize Chloe last night, right on the spot, but I could not do that. No way. I chose to bring her home with me instead. The vet said Chloe would likely die within twelve hours, from the hemorrhage. But still, I wanted to bring her home. I suppose it was a bit selfish of me, but I wanted to have the opportunity to say goodbye. We gave Chloe some painkillers and lifted her back into my van. Chloe was still too weak to walk once we got home, so we spent the night lying on the floor in the foyer. She panted all night long, likely in pain, while I recited mantras and prayers from the Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Christian and Jewish traditions.
I told her how much I loved her and what a good, kind, loving being she has been. I kept reminding her how pretty she is, and how sweet, and how everyone enjoyed her company so much. I thanked her for being my companion. She wasn't 100% coherent, but I think at one point she wagged her tail. (I had gotten one kiss from her before we went to the hospital, and it was cold. As cold as death.)

Oh, Chloe. You sweet thing.

After a long night in which neither of us slept, I decided to take Chloe to our regular vet--Dr. Rothstien at Saugerties Animal Hospital. Dr. Rothstein practices TCM and acupuncture in addition to traditional veterinary medicine and I absolutely love him. As I drove to Saugerties, I started to allow myself to believe that Dr. R would have a magic herb to cure Chloe. From what the emergency clinic said, it was unlikely Chloe would survive. But I hoped that Dr. R would at least be able to do some acupuncture to ease Chloe's suffering. I even accepted the fact that I would elect to have her euthanized if Dr. Rothstein recommended it. I had said my goodbyes, after all.

On the way to the vet I brought Chloe up to the monastery (KTD) for a very important task. There, Lama Tundup--a Tibetan monk--performed the TIbetan Buddhist version of "last rites." He read passages from an ancient Tibetan text--none of which I understood. He fed Chloe some mantra seeds which were blessed by the Karmapa. Chloe could barely swallow at that point, or even operate her tongue, so I had to plant the seeds on her tongue, the way a priest might administer communion. Chloe's gums were white from anemia. Her tongue was brown. I wanted to cry, but I was told it is important to make sure our animals (or any beings) remain calm at the time of death. I kept petting her, reminding her that she was going to have a very auspicious rebirth. At some point during the ritual, Chloe became semi-alert and turned her body to face Lama Tundup. He touched the text to her forehead. Did she feel it, I wonder? Did she receive some powerful, karma-clearing transmission?

Like many dog guardians, I often feel guilty that I am not "doing enough" for my dog. Yesterday, for example, I was not with Chloe during those hours in which she fell ill. I feel VERY guilty about that. As in: how dare I go sing in New York City when your dog is dying? But we all know that thoughts of guilt are silly, destructive thoughts. Plus, I didn't know she was dying. I thought yesterday was just another day. Anyway, as I watched Lama Tundup give Chloe more mantra seeds, I thought: well, if even it's true that I "I didn't do enough" for her in this lifetime, at least I am making some effort to ensure that she has an even better lifetime the next time around. She will likely be reborn a human.

So then it was time to go down to the vet for our 9:00 appointment. I drove with one hand on the wheel; the other on Chloe's cold paw. I sang Om Mani Peme Hum for her, and the Mahamrityunjaya Mantra. Could she feel it? Or was she locked in her own private place of pain? Or non-pain, if the painkiller was still working.

I found myself wishing--as I often wish--that I had a partner, because then that partner Could be the one driving the minivan, and I could be in the backseat hugging Chloe. Instead, I just held on to her paw. It felt smaller, as if she had already begun to shrink.

We were now about ten minutes away from the Saugerties Animal Hospital. Thus it was time to seriously address the issue of euthanasia. In Buddhism, there are different schools of thought about this. Some teachers feel that if you make the decision to end another's life, you are taking on negative karma, because you are ending someone else's cycle of suffering prematurely. Other teachers feel (as I do) that if your true desire is to ease the animal's suffering, then the act of euthanasia is actually a benevolent one. But as I drove down the hill from the monastery, knowing what I was about to do, I considered both theories. And I decided that even if I did indeed risk taking on more negative karma for euthanizing my beloved dog, I would do it anyway. I would bring more suffering upon myself in order to ease hers.

I am not trying to toot my own horn here. It's just that I've never really looked at love from that angle before. I haven't really done any heroic or noble things in this lifetime, but in that second I realized that this thing people call sacrifice isn't sacrifice at all. It's just pure love.

Shortly after I had this realization, Chloe died. We had just pulled into the animal hospital parking lot. I don't know how to describe a lifeless body--the way it sags. But those of us who believe in reincarnation trust that there is life beyond the body. This is what I told Chloe.

Was it wrong to keep her alive in her diseased body for another twelve hours? I think the soul-Chloe would say no. I think the soul-Chloe knew I would have been paralyzed with guilt for the rest of this life if I had had to make the decision to end her life. I think she also knew I would have been paranoid about the negative karma. So she, in her life-saving way, she saved me. Again. Those of you who are now thinking "Lee analyzes too much" are correct. So let me just end with this:

She knew I loved her. And I knew she loved me. We are complete. And so I say goodbye to a beloved friend.

Right now, through my window, I can see fat squirrels frolicking across the lawn. And there is no one to chase them.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Animal Aid USA Fundraiser-An Evening with Acclaimed Dog Author Lee Harrington. Saturday October 5 in NYC

Dog lovers: I'm honored to have been invited to participate in this wonderful fundraising event for Animal Aid USA. Founded by Prince Lorenzo Borghese, Animal Aid USA relocates animals in kill-shelters to loving homes through its large network of rescue groups and volunteers. I have friends who volunteer for this group (i.e. the fabulous Jen Bush) and believe me, they work hard. Each weekend they travel to remote areas in the US and lovingly rescue hundreds of dogs. Read about them here

Anyway, this event will basically be a hip NYC party, featuring books, music, authors, princes, and dogs.
After a short author Q&A moderated by Ms. Bush, I'll be performing covers of Pete Townshend's song "Sleeping Dog" and Heart's "Dog and Butterfly" with songstress Jen Bush. Jen will be singing some songs as well.  I believe "Hound Dog" by Elvis (duh) and "I Love My Dog" by Cat Stevens are on the list.
You might know Lorenzo as "The Bachelor." We in the animal rescue world know him as a great champion of animals with a big and generous heart. By coming and supporting Lorenzo's foundation, you are DIRECTLY saving the lives of animals in need.

Free Bark magazines and free copies of the acclaimed memoir "Rex and the City," --plus  big hugs of gratitude - will be given to the first 60 attendees.
For more information on the event, visit:

TIME:  4:00 - 7:00 PM
LOCATION: Shetler Studios & Theatres
244 W 54th St, New York, New York 10019-5502

The facebook copy reads:
Join us for a tail wagging evening of chat, song and fun with writer, singer, editor of BARK Magazine and dog lover extraordinaire, LEE HARRINGTON! The evening will begin with a lighthearted interview, then I will join Lee for a short musical performance and the evening will end with a meet and greet and book signing. Did I mention that the first 60 people will receive a copy of Lee's book, Rex and the City? Well, you will and you can even have some wine and light refreshments. Lee lives 2 hours away and graciously agreed to give her time to this fundraiser to help animals in need. Let's make it a nice showing for her. Tickets must be purchased in advance using this link:

By coming and supporting this wonderful organization, you are DIRECTLY saving the lives of animals in need.


Friday, September 13, 2013

Check out the latest cover of Bark magazine! (Fall 2013) This is our 75th issue, so it's rather a milestone for us.  All our covers are cute, but this one just kills me. Look at that terrier's face! The cover dog is a rescue, of course.

Appearing in this issue is my review of Mary Oliver's latest collection of poems "Dog Songs." All I did in this review was gush ineloquently about how sublime Mary Oliver's poems are.  What else could I say?

Also in this issue, is a Q&A I did with New York City's only house-call vet, Dr. Jeffrey Levy. Dr. Levy also happens to be a noted veterinary acupuncturist and.....he fronts a pet-rescue themed rock band called "Pet Rox." Their new CD, "Just Sniffing Around" was recently released. 

To subscribe to Bark and experience non-stop cuteness (as well as vital information about life with dogs):

To purchase Mary Oliver's sublime poetry collection "Dog Songs":

To hear clips from Pet Rox and learn more about Dr. Jeff:

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September 11th.....again and again

Twelve years ago I was living in Brooklyn, with my former husband Ed. I'll never forget that moment when the NPR news radio station we were listening to went dead. We knew then that the towers had fallen. My husband--a newsman himself--immediately left in order to get into NYC (even though all entry points were blocked) and to his office. He spent the rest of the week filming carnage and interviewing survivors while I stayed at home alone and wept for my city and all her people.

A few months after the towers fell, I left NYC and my marriage and my job and even my dog and moved to a Buddhist retreat center. I knew things had to change, and that the change had to start with myself. But that's another story....

I'll never forget how silent the city was after September 11th, and how connected everyone felt, even though our connection was based on horror and sorrow. Cab drivers stopped honking their horns; everyone made eye contact. There was so much oneness and so much love. I don't think that feeling of oneness has necessarily gone away. I do think the world has changed--dare I say for the better?

Think of how many people have embraced spiritual teachings these days. And how much kirtan there is. There are yoga studios on every block and in every town. People are truly remembering that All Are One.

It's tragic that so many lives were lost on that day, and that the motivations for those attacks were ignorance and hatred. My heart still bleeds for those who lost loved ones and suffered trauma. I hope everyone continues to heal and grow. We are all with you.

The Dalai Lama's Message Regarding September 11th

I encourage everyone to read this beautiful speech by the Dalai Lama, delivered directly after the 9/11/01 attacks.

"The events of this day cause every thinking person to stop their daily lives, whatever is going on in them, and to ponder deeply the larger questions of life. We search again for not only the meaning of life, but the purpose of our individual and collective experience as we have created it--and we look earnestly for ways in which we might recreate ourselves as a human species, so that we will never treat each other this way again.

The hour has come for us to demonstrate at the highest level our most extraordinary thought about Who We Really Are. There are two possible responses to what has occurred today. The first comes from love, the second from fear. If we come from fear we may panic and do things—as individuals and as nations—that could only cause further damage. If we come from love we will find refuge and strength, even as we provide it to others. This is the moment of your ministry. This is the time of teaching. What you teach at this time, through your every word and action right now, will remain as indelible lessons in the hearts and minds of those whose lives you touch, both now, and for years to come. We will set the course for tomorrow, today. At this hour. In this moment. Let us seek not to pinpoint blame, but to pinpoint cause. Unless we take this time to look at the cause of our experience, we will never remove ourselves from the experiences it creates. Instead, we will forever live in fear of retribution from those within the human family who feel aggrieved, and, likewise, seek retribution from them.

To us [Buddhist thinkers] the reasons are clear. We have not learned the most basic human lessons. We have not remembered the most basic human truths. We have not understood the most basic spiritual wisdom. In we have not been listening to God, and because we have not, we watch ourselves do ungodly things. The message we hear from all sources of truth is clear: We are all one. That is a message the human race has largely ignored. Forgetting this truth is the only cause of hatred and war, and the way to remember is simple: Love, [in] this and every moment. If we could love even those who have attacked us, and seek to understand why they have done so, what then would be our response? Yet if we meet negativity with negativity, rage with rage, attack with attack, what will be the outcome? These are the questions that are placed before the human race today. They are questions that we have failed to answer for thousands of years. Failure to answer them now could eliminate the need to answer them at all. If we want the beauty of the world that we have co-created to be experienced by our children and our children's children, we will have to become use that to happen. We must choose to be a cause in the matter.

So, talk with God today. Ask God for help, for counsel and advice, for insight and for strength and for inner peace and for deep wisdom. Ask God on this day to show us how to show up in the world in a way that will cause the world itself to change. And join all those people around the world who are praying right now, adding your Light to the Light that dispels all fear.

That is the challenge that is placed before every thinking person today. Today the human soul asks the question: What can I do to preserve the beauty and the wonder of our world and to eliminate the anger and hatred—and the disparity that inevitably causes it—in that part of the world which I touch? Please seek to answer that question today, with all the magnificence that is You. What can you do TODAY...[at] this very moment?

A central teaching in most spiritual traditions is: What you wish to experience, provide for another. Look to see, now, what it is you wish to experience--in your own life, and in the world. Then see if there is another for whom you may be the source of that. If you wish to experience peace, provide peace for another. If you wish to know that you are safe, cause [others] to know that they are safe. If you wish to better understand seemingly incomprehensible things, help another to better understand. If you wish to heal your own sadness or anger, seek to heal the sadness or anger of another. Those others are waiting for you now. They are looking to you for guidance, for help, for courage, for strength, for understanding, and for assurance at this hour. Most of all, they are looking to you for love.

My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.

-Dalai Lama

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Recap of the Omega Fall Ecstatic Chant weekend

Hello Beloveds:

The Omega Fall Ecstatic Chant 2013 Festival this past weekend was absolutely amazing!  Thanks to Stephan Rechtschaffen and Shyamdas for continuing to make this event a glorious expression of love and oneness.  As Gaura Vani said at the closing ceremony, the vibration just gets deeper and deeper every year.  We're on our way to becoming a Kirtan Nation!

I had the great privilege of singing onstage with the sublime Adam Bauer--a rising star in the kirtan world, whose first CD "Shyam Lila" will be released this fall. I was also blessed to sing at the finale with so many kirtan musicians I revere: Gaura Vani (my producer, no less), Jai Uttal, Ishwari and Sruti Ram of Sri Kirtan, Donna Delorey, Krishna Das, Steve Gorn, Vraj Devi, Ananta Cuffee, Visvambhar – Vish, Janaki Cuffee, John McDowell, CC White, Adam Bauer, Arundhati, Patrick McAndrew and Steve Postell. 

It was wonderful to see so many wonderful old friends at Omega and to make new friends as well. Among my new friends are the beautiful London-based wall Vrajdevi (a great friend of Shyamdas) and the dashing vocalist Patrick McAndrew, who sings with CC White.  I feel like I'm name-dropping, but it's just that I am so thrilled at how many beautiful and talented people there are in this world, and how many of them seemed to have congregated in Rhinebeck this weekend.

Shout-out also to the author Matthew Sharpe, a former Columbia University colleague with whom I lost touch with years ago but have found again. I'm so proud of all Matt's successes as an author and professor.
Jai ma!