Puppy Love 28

Bands of energy cross the universe, and when we, more spirit than form, move through them, we become imbued with feeling.

That is why, on my next visit to the house, I was charged with eros, the fuel of the Prime Mover, the very source of creative energy.

“What do you say about getting to work creating a pup?” I suggested to Emery. “Ready to keep this lineage going?”


He seemed to like the idea all right. Though friendly with both Nougat and Prissy, it was the border collie whom he approached with raised tail and snout. She ducked her head for him.


Soon they nuzzled, then off they went, chasing each other through the meadow, and into the woods.

I left, happy to imagine the fine-looking pup that might come call them sire and dam.

When I next returned, Prissy showed signs of pregnancy, swollen teets and a belly beginning to sag.

Chloe and Miss Molly gave her mothering lessons.

“Now don’t coddle the pup,” Miss Molly said.

“Pounce!” said Chloe. “Never too young for pounce!”


I left again, pulled by the invisible lines transversing space, and when I returned the third time, Prissy lay on the patio with the early pangs of labor.


“Come, dear,” I said. “You’ll be happier inside.”

She settled on the couch, and I kept vigil while she rested between the bursts of pain.


In the wee hours, with a whimper and a stretch, she bore her single pup, a white silky male a near image of his sire.


Lucas calls him Felix.

“Because you make me happy,” Lucas said. “You’re our Luck Pup.”


How has this funny boy, Lucas, grown into such a fine man, finding joy in puppies and dogs, living his life with my furry estate?


Prissy, proud of her little pup, wasn’t quite sure where to begin–did she follow Miss Molly’s not-coddling advice? Chloe’s pounce advice?

Or could she come up with something that was authentically her?


Before she could decide, in rushed the grand-sire and grand-dam, and there was Lucas, in the midst of the commotion with the little pup barking up at him in a high puppy voice.

“What do you want, little guy?” Lucas asked.

And it sounded like Felix barked back, “Pounce me!”


A little rub calmed the pup, but Chloe had caught the spirit of fun.

“Pounce, pounce? Yes, pup!” she barked back.

And the round of play had begun.


Felix knows the circle–maybe that’s his secret of happiness. We say goodbye, we say hello. Patterns repeat: same nose, same fur, same games and play.

Some things change–we change. But still the play continues. Puppies pounce.

Bands of energy crisscross this earth, too, and when we spirits move through them, we pick up the feelings in the fiber of our remembered form. This is why, after visiting with Felix and his family, I became colored with the light of happiness. I don’t mind belonging to the After when I can still visit the Now. And when the Now is filled with puppy, it fills me with joy.


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Puppy Love 25


Grief aged Miss Molly. Maybe she wanted to hurry time so she could join her mate sooner. Her sad eyes drew me in.

“You won’t always be apart,” I said, “and when you’re together again, it will be in a place with no time, for all time.”

Lucas knew Crackers’ turn would be soon. He and Caleb were litter-mates, after all.


Since Bartholomew, we’ve always had at least one dog who liked to sing. Emery’s keeping the choral tradition going.


While the household mourned Caleb, he sang soulful songs. Have you heard a dog sing “Swing Low?” It’s enough to make you long for that chariot to come soon.


Dustin tried to cheer up his uncle. I could see that Crackers’ old joints weren’t up for  a game of pounce, and neither was his spirit.


I wonder sometimes what Lucas learns about form and formlessness, about the slow grinding passage of time, about the quiet stillness of the timeless moments. Watching so many of his four-legged friends move on has got to be changing him in some way.

The crack of thunder–the smell of sulfur–the rising column of ash: Does Lucas think, Here we go again? Or does the out-of-time profundity still make him stop in his tracks?


A passing is both sacred and everyday. But, no matter how often it happens, it is in no way mundane.


I never tire of the rising of spirit. Something in me rises, too.


I never weary of the silent witnessing. Somehow, this sacred duty makes us stronger. It quickens the living to the passing moments. It reminds those passed of what they’ve left.


I don’t know why sadness accompanies this–at least for those of us who come from the After. I understand the sorrow of those left behind, for they don’t know what waits, what lasts.


I understand their anger, too.


Emery and Dustin, like two white sentinels, flanked Nibbler, the beagle who, with Bobie, started this long line.


The flash! The light. Emery and Dustin shared a glance.


They watched the greedy shepherd to ensure he handed Crackers’ light-sphere to me.


I received him, to set him free. Where we are, there is no time. There is all time. There is no space. There is infinite space.


We roam through no dimensions. We wander all dimensions. This is all true, simultaneously. We can’t keep dichotomy, and that’s why we have no form but the memory of who we once were.

Dustin doesn’t understand, but Emery, I suspect, does.


And Chloe doesn’t care. She’s seen the robed one often enough to have lost all fear. While he lingered to watch the old movies on the TV, she joined him. I don’t suppose he understands dog. But if he did, he’d know that she was asking him whose turn was next, and when it would be her turn.


She offered him friendship. And, as few are brave or cheerful enough to befriend Death, he accepted.

I’ve stolen a glance at his ledger. I know he’ll visit a few more times before he comes for her.

How can it be that the divide between form and formlessness becomes such a barrier, such an ultimate separation?

For Chloe, it’s nothing to fear.

For Emery, I suspect, it’s not a barrier that’s real. And there between the sadness, bravery, and wisdom, extends Emery’s view, which, I suspect, lies closest to the truth.


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Puppy Love 17


Lucas had something I never had. He had brothers.

Gunther called, and for a moment, Lucas’s black mood lifted.

“It’s good to hear your voice, brother,” he said. “I’ve got sad news, and I’ve been wanting to talk to you?”


“It’s Otter,” he said, his voice catching. “No, not sick. Worse? Like the worst.”


They talked for a while. Lucas’s voice gained some strength as they shared memories of the very good cat, but when the call ended, he lifted his head and howled, more mournful than I’ve heard any of the pups howl, ever.


I did my best to help out. There was always so much that needed to be done, and Lucas was hardly in any shape to resume his typical chipper attitude towards the housekeeping tasks.


He thanked me. Even broken-hearted, this boy’s polite.

“It’s all right, Lukie!” I replied. “You eat! Leave the rest to me!”


I looked into the household financial records. The saving were slowly chipping away. The amount Lucas’s mediocre paintings brought couldn’t cover the bills. There was enough for the near future, but I was thinking of the long run.

I could help with that, too, I realized, opening a Word Doc and beginning to type. “Six Pups and a Cat,” I wrote, “by Lucas Munch.”

I knew I made a great ghost writer, and I had hopes that, with any luck, this book would be a best-seller. Its profits would funnel back into the household account.


My writing was interrupted by happy barking. Out back, Chloe and Dustin played pounce.


I’ll pounce you! Chloe barked.


Not if I pounce you first! yapped Dustin.


You’re cute when you’re pouncing! Chloe said.

Oh, no, you don’t! barked Dustin. You’re not going to distract me with flattery!


My heart jumped a happy skip. Would these two become mates?

But when the game ended, they sat, back to back, looking into the darkness.


Poor Dustin! Otter was such a good friend to him.

“It’s OK, White Lightning,” I said. “You’ll get your spark back again.”

He only whimpered in reply.


Dustin took the slow march to the line of graves, and Chloe followed. They cocked their heads, as if they were counting each and every headstone.

“There you are, you two!” said Lucas. “I’ve been looking for you.”

Dustin raised his head, his white tail wagging.

“You know?” said Lucas. “One thing makes it easier? It’s friends. Friends and family? You and Chloe, you’re friends already, but if you wanted, you could become family. Do you think you would like that?”

Dustin wagged his tail harder.


“Gunther told me you could use a hug.” It was Wolfgang, who wrapped his brother in his arms and squeezed. “You’ll be OK, little brother.”

“I know,” replied Lucas. “I’ve got you?”


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Puppy Love 15


I stayed around for the season of grief. I couldn’t leave when they needed me, though I wasn’t sure how to comfort them. Miss Molly took the loyal spot, sleeping at the graveside.


Tanvi tells me it takes time. Time is something that’s tangible here, in this dimension. I’ve lost its grasp unless I play music, and then the notes and rhythms ground me, connecting movement to moment.

Bach buried nine children; he was intimate with grief. I played the partitas. Lucas listened, and Otter sang along. I thought it helped, temporarily, at least.


But Lucas wept in his sleep.


It was he who discovered, when he woke before the sun, the best balm for the grieving heart, love.


Mochi missed her mate.


But she still had her companion.

As sorry as her weeping eyes, her laughing ones sparkle bright. Who received the most comfort, the man or dog? Love brings solace to both.


Crackers followed Lucas to the field where he painted the line that marched across his life: all these passings.


The next afternoon when Lucas and Dustin headed down to the cove, I blew along beside them.


We found an intelligent female boxer. Dustin liked her all right, and Lucas liked her a lot.

She was hungry, dirty, without a collar.

“She’s a stray,” I whispered to Lucas. “You could bring her home!”

He thought about it.



By the time he opened his eyes to ask her if she wanted to come with us, she’d trotted off down the beach, and she didn’t come back when Lucas called.

And that’s when we met Chloe.

The elegant collie trotted up to Lucas and sniffed his hand.


Doggies! she said. I think that’s when she fell in love with Lucas.


She jumped up to him and whispered in his ear. Take me! I’ll follow you home!


Lucas loved her back.


And when she came bounding through the garden to play pounce with Otter, we all laughed so hard that we forgot, just for the moment, that we’d ever felt sad, and then we felt that tired sting around the eyes, but our smiles pushed it back.

We’ve got Chloe the Collie to make us happy now.


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