Man’s best friend

Frodo Buddha dog

You may have got the impression that I am a cat person, but that is because you never saw me with Frodo, and he was a mini-Schnauzer. Actually, he was a Buddha emanating as a human in a mini-Schnauzer body, but whatever… the point is, he was not a cat.

Frodo appeared exactly when I needed him. In 2009, I had lost my job, my house, my income, my community, and was staying at the mercy of Frodo’s mom S in the Hamptons (why not! What better place to hang out when you’re penniless?!) for a few months, doing retreat. I was at first a little discombobulated, wondering how to make my life meaningful with only my own mind for company, adapting to a new reality. And along came Frodo, giving me his unadulterated, unconditional adoration. It was some strong karma ripening as he wanted to follow me around everywhere, and I happily let him. His mom was very good about it; she said it was not his fault as I had bewitched him.Frodo on walk

Frodo was always happy to go for walks with me. He was always happy to sit next to me, beside me, on top of me, as I read my Buddhist books in between sessions. He was a little too happy to sit right next to me staring at me whenever I ate — really he did love his (anyone’s) food! And, marvelously enough, he was always happy to join me for any number of 2-hour meditation sessions, his paws reaching under the door if I shut it, scrabbling to be let in. He would sit very quietly on the bed behind me for about an hour and three quarters (and sometimes I could feel him staring at me) … then I would hear a small whimpery noise, and I’d tell him to shoosh. He would shoosh for about ten minutes, and then that little attempt at communication again, this time a little louder and more determined. If I looked behind me at that point, his face would generally be right next to my left shoulder. That is if he wasn’t upside down on the bed entirely blissing out, which is how he spent most of the sessions. We enjoyed our Heruka retreat very much, Frodo and I.

Buddhism and dogsI wrote a few things down about Frodo at the time, so here are a few random snippet memories of getting to know a dog, and a sometimes challenging but beautiful retreat.

A meeting

“Frodo jumped unexpectedly onto my lap today, and stayed there for hours, mainly staring at me. He is very sentient. S was not looking for a dog, but when she popped into the pet store to visit her favorite puppy, he was gone. With a shock, she realized he was her dog, but it was too late, he had been crated away for euthanization (at 5 months deemed too old to be cute.) Luckily, she managed to get him back in the nick of time. I am doing no justice to this story, let her tell it to you.”

Cure for boredom and loneliness

“I’ve never felt bored before, really. However, I felt a little bored and out of sorts after lunch, so I took Frodo for a walk and cheered right up. I was out of sorts about the lack of job or clear future, no community, tinged with loneliness, thinking, “What am I doing?” I examined that I, the one that needs distraction and the suffering of change, and dissolved it away. Everyone has it – the sufferings of boredom and loneliness and the sufferings of change are horrible. There is even a TV series called “Bored to Death” — I saw the billboard when I was in New York. I developed compassion from exchanging myself with those who experience boredom, and it was “real” as it was based on my own experience of suffering. I developed real concern for the suffering of Frodo, and everyone else.Buddhism and boredom

At this stage I dissolved my Spiritual Guide into my heart. If he feels this much love and compassion, he must be desperate to dissolve our suffering away, so I went with that and spent time feeling the bliss. There is no need for the grasped-at-I, including the I that is more concerned about its own boredom than the suffering of those born as animals, in a tsunami, etc. I did a meditation fusing exchanging self with others and emptiness, deciding to become an emanation of Guru Buddha and forget all about my limited sense of self, a self that doesn’t even exist. Then I can spread my sense of self over everyone, starting with Frodo, and dissolve them into my mind of bliss and emptiness. I generate others as Buddha Heruka and Buddha Vajrayogini, which means that I am never separate from anyone (and therefore never lonely.) This, I find, is the perfect cure for feeling lonely and isolated.”

I want you. I need you.

“Frodo came along at a good time. In a few self-pitying moments I would think that no one seemed to want me or need me any more, but Frodo told me with his eyes: ‘I want you to attain enlightenment for my sake. I need you to attain enlightenment for my sake.’ Frodo is my new BFF and how wonderful it is if he can be representative of all living beings, as my object of love. This is such an uncomplicated relationship! I can’t bear to see him hurt, even though it is usually momentary e.g. when I threw the yellow tennis ball for him and it landed on his back and he yelped. I have to get him and everyone else out of the lower realms and out of samsara.”

A dog’s life

“Frodo is powerless – all he can do is whine or bark, he cannot open a door himself, or get himself his favorite treats, and he’s always at ground level having to look up. He cannot read or otherwise really entertain himself. Who owns Frodo’s body? It’d be good to love all living beings as much as I love Frodo. He is an emanation dog for my retreat. He is whimpering ‘Please hurry up and get enlightened!’

“Frodo is not worried about human problems like losing a job. My teacher Geshe-la makes the point that animals are temporarily free from human problems, just as we humans are (only) temporarily free from animal problems. If you pay close attention to people’s lives, naturally empathy and compassion will arise as they are all experiencing problems every day.”

dog is man's best friend

Wake up!

“This morning, Frodo was whimpering in his sleep. I wanted to wake him up. It occurred to me that if you’re going to free someone from a nightmare, you can’t buy into that nightmare yourself. Buddhas see that we are suffering but they also see that it is dream-like suffering, so they try to wake us up.”

Best gift

“It is Frodo’s birthday today! I gave him all sorts of goodies, but my main gift to him, and indeed his back to me, was to exchange myself with him and all other animals all day long. On the beach where S and I took him for his birthday run, we saw a poor fish flapping on the sand, the fisherman oblivious.”

Upside down dog

“Tsog day was lovely with self-initiation and Offering to the Spiritual Guide and an upside-down dog on the bed behind me.”


“I was with Frodo earlier today when a white labrador bounded up to me on the beach, seemingly with no owner. She followed me for about a mile, until I came across a woman sitting on the beach with her dog, a black labrador. For some reason, she called out “Mala!” and both her black lab and my new white lab bounded up to her. We didn’t think too much of it, but when we looked at the white lab’s collar, her name, too, was “Mala.” And I’m doing a counting retreat.”

Stay here now

“I am leaving today. Earlier, I was a little melancholy to think this was the last walk Mr. Frodo and I would be taking down to the bay, until it occurred to me that it wasn’t a last walk at all. It was a first walk. Due to subtle impermanence, nothing stays the same even for a moment, and every step we were taking was brand new and different. Every Olympian leap Frodo made into the air to catch the yellow tennis ball was a new leap. Every ripple on the water was a first ripple. My permanent grasping abated. Each moment was fun, full, and vibrant. One of the best walks of my life.” (Postscript: I often think of this walk when I need a reminder to experience the vibrancy and fullness of the present moment, not dwelling futilely in the non-existent past or distracted by the non-existent future.)

If I ever wanted to tune into love, I could think of Frodo, it worked instantly every time. He was there during my Heruka retreat, and Heruka is the nature of love. At the time I used to reckon that if I loved everyone as much as I loved that dog, I would be enlightened by now. I think that may be true.bodhichitta or bears

Why am I telling you all this? Because Frodo died today.

Please pray for Frodo. May Buddha Tara, whom he loved, take him straight into her heart. Please pray for Dharma, my friend’s brave cat, who also died a few days ago after a long illness. Please pray for Bear, who died recently. Please pray for all our precious animals, who teach us so much, who open our hearts. May they all be happy. May they all be safe. May they all be free.

Author: Luna Kadampa

Based on 40 years' experience, I write about applying meditation and modern Buddhism to improve and transform our everyday lives and societies. I try to make it accessible to everyone anywhere who wants more inner peace and profound tools to help our world, not just Buddhists. Do make comments any time and I'll write you back!

32 thoughts on “Man’s best friend”

  1. Baron or Lobsang gyltsan enamination of Buddha . A past life teacher and student via a dream in dream yoga. Inferred by my teacher. Lobsang Dharma Dewa here. I am a Tibetan Buddhist. Baron a mini schnauzer who really is a human pretending to be dog who is a Buddha.

    I believe he came to teach me love as I lost it being severely depressed in a needful time. He’s old now awe I will be broken when he dies but I do my layship for him.

    Erin crouse

  2. Beautiful post Luna :’-) Frodo really does sound like an emanation, (they’re normally not that obvious). I wish you both many lifetimes of bringing others to bliss.

  3. Jonathan Hickery,

    You just got Sara to sign this petition: Tell Denmark to stop banning dog breeds.

    Every person you add is a huge step toward winning this campaign. Each new supporter is another person who will spread the word, get their friends to sign, and bring the campaign closer to victory.

    Can you find more people to join this campaign? Ask them to sign now.

    – The Team

  4. You have just reminded me of two things I had forgotten. Firstly to become enlightened and secondly the reason for doing so. I have a working cocker spaniel called Cassie who turns every day into an adventure. I lost my older dog Bess at 17 last November and prayed for her to have a fortunate rebirth. I will pray for Frodo and all the other animals. They teach us so much and give so much pleasure. Thank you for a lovely post.

  5. How interesting that this dog happened to be called Frodo. In the Lord of the Rings book, Frodo unselfishly strives and eventually succeeds in destroying a great source of evil in the world symbolized by the ring. Frodo the dog what just as giving towards you. We get so much more than what we give to the animals that share our daily lives. If only we, as humans, could understand that it works the same with all living beings. What a great place earth could be 🙂 I’ve been blessed with sharing my life with many cats and two dogs so far. They’ve all thought me great lessons and every day I wish that they get reborn as a humans and have the very precious opportunity to realize their true nature, their Bouddha nature.
    Thanks for this wonderful post.

  6. Praying for Frodo, Dharma and S down here in Virginia. All are going on our Center’s dedication list…

  7. Thank you for sharing this. I will hold all beings, including Frodo in my prayers. Our best friend is a collie-whippet cross called Millie. She is now fourteen years old, lame in one leg but never stops wagging her tail; a friend to everyone she meets including other animals that she tries to mother. She is a surrogate mother to our cat and a Yorkshire terrier we recently inherited. When she goes, I will suffer the loss terribly. I too whisper mantras in her ear and pray to the Buddhas to take care of her if she passes when I am not at home or asleep; though I often wake in the night to check she is comfortable on her bed and blankets next to my bed. I truly feel blessed to have her as a friend. Our small friends do bring out the best in us don’t they.

      1. We have all been in the animal realm, countless times and, likewise, animals have been in the human realm countless times; I feel such a karmic connection with my friend, Millie, that I am sure our connection goes back a long way, and I hope this connection will extend into infinity, one way or another. I think this maybe so for a lot of humans and their friends!

  8. Lucy I am sorry for the loss of your friend Frodo. From your description, he will take a favorable rebirth and the two of you will be together again.  Our animal friends are precious little souls and I count myself very fortunate to have them with me in this current life.  Donna, Lulu, Abby, Layla and Baby

    1. Frodo was a small dog with a very big heart, and it seems to be paying off now with the amount of love and prayers he is receiving to guide him on his way.

  9. I know S and I have met Frodo, my kids played with him at the temple when they were little. Will dedicate for his swift relief and include him in Powa we are doing next week. Thanks for the beautiful story.

    1. Awww! Frodo did use to visit the upstate New York temple a lot as a young pup, in fact he lived there for a while when they were still building it. He used to eat the apples off the trees.

  10. Wonderful teaching and very personal for me. My dog has become everybody’s friend especially on the street where I’ve lived for over 25 years, greeting them with a wag and a polite sit waiting for them to pat her on the head or maybe even give her a treat. I often think it would be wonderful for me to have that unreserved affection and doggy equanimity for other humans! She also teaches me the limitations of an animal rebirth and she is one of the luckier manifestations of the lower realms.

    She manifested for me at a similar period in my life when I experienced some major ‘disasters’ at home, work and family and my mind was quite a mess.She became my ‘object of love’ and has never failed to return great affection,trust and loyalty. I owe it to her and all other beings to keep trying and keep practising because with all her great qualities, she is powerless and I am the one who, this life, has the karma to be human.

    I was very moved by Geshe-la’s fearlessness when he once said that if he could he would sue the human race for their treatment of animals. He has removed so much ignorance from the world by the power of that fearless compassion and I pray we can all become just like him.

    Finally, a recent post from some kind person on Facebook, ‘Whoever said diamonds were a girl’s best friend never had a dog.”

    Beautiful teaching. Thank you. I rejoice!x

  11. Dear Luna, I’m so sorry to hear that your dear Frodo passed away. I knew, reading your lovely eulogy of him, that he must not be alive anymore, but hoped for your same that you were just writing about how much the love of our pets can inspire us. Best wishes to you and little Frodo. It’s so hard to lose our pets. Cindy

  12. I’m reminded of my dog Lava. She was my number one companion and new to our family during my recovery from surgery several years back. I was home for six weeks and every day I would take a walk increasing my distance over time. Pretty soon we were walking out on the canal bank and then finally near the end of that time I took her out about a mile and a half, turned around and I started to run. She looked at me with such an expression of joy. As if to say can we, can we! Today she is the only dog we have left and she is almost ten. My husband takes her out every morning and I see that enthusiam rising. Lately I’ve taken to whispering mantras in her ears.

    1. I can totally picture her expression! Mantras in her ears is a great idea. Frodo had Tara’s mantras and then Avalokiteshvara’s mantras in his ears as he was dying.

  13. How beautiful to remind ourself of the unconditional love of a dog what strength and direction that should give us to aim each and everyday to having those perfect feelings towards everyone we meet in our daily lives ! Love and blessings to frodo and his owner

  14. My heart goes out to you, Frodo’s mom, Frodo, and the other animals. They will be in my prayers. Thank you for sharing the beautiful ways Frodo touched your life; it was a delight to read.

  15. I stayed with S for a year about 10 years ago. My heart goes out to you three. Well wishes for Froto. -MJ

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