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 20


At Babe, Bosko, and Bartholomew’s whelping, I made a promise never to choose favorites. How could I when each pup was as cute and smart as the next?

Emery has taught me that favorites are always possible.


Without intending it, we’ve each abandoned impartiality. This white pup is adored beyond compare by all of us.

It won’t move if you bark at it, Caleb told his grandpup. Can’t go over it. Gotta go under it, Little Twister.


How, grandsire?

Under! Squeeze Like I do!


Lucas made sure that, even while we doted over the pup, the big ones and the old ones got plenty of attention, too.


And Chloe made sure that Lucas, no matter how hard he worked to keep up with the never-ending chores, had cheerful company while he toiled.


Lucas wasn’t the only one she cheered up. Chloe adopted for her role “Resident Happiness-Maker.”


She taught Pounce to the pup.

You’re silly, Ma-Dog!

Not so silly as you, Little Twister!


One night, I found Dustin cowering on the porch and Caleb looking on with concern.

“It’s too soon for another visit from the hooded one,” I told them. “What are you two scared of?”


Caleb nodded towards the pup-bed where Otter slept in her transparency. I smiled to see that the memory crossed paws had stayed with her, even as she moved from realm to realm.


In the morning, the Twister had become a dust devil.

“Weren’t you white once upon a time?” Lucas asked the pup.


Chloe smiled at her dirty puppy.

“Time for your first bath, little guy,” said Lucas.


And by the time tea had brewed, Emery was as bright as the Dog in the Moon once again.


I can fly, he said. I am Moon Dog!


Wait! There is someone behind me!


It’s Tail the Magnificent! I’ll get you, Tail! You can’t escape me!


Oh, no, you don’t! You’re not faster than me! You’re not faster… you’re not… you’re… 


OK. You are. A-oooo! My tail is faster than ma-eeee!


And with that, everyone’s favorite sat to contemplate tailness, and how, though it always seems to follow, we can, no matter how hard we try, ever actually catch it. Ah! Such vast mysteries in life! And what is a tail, anyway, and why do we even have them!


Chloe left life’s riddles to the little one, while she went in search of the next to need her smile.

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Puppy Love 19


The twister flew across the meadow, past the row of tombstones, and I rode the tailwind.

He pulled up beside his grand-dam.

Watcha doin’ out here, grand-dog? he whimpered. Why out in the dark and lonely?


I’m remembering, baby, she sighed.

‘Membering who?

Those who came before, little one.


Before what?

Not what, baby. Who. Before you.


They sat together a moment, and Dustin joined his ma and pup.

Got a smile for your sire? Dustin asked, licking the pup’s spotted nose.


Emery sat and gazed up at the moon, with Dustin assuming guard behind his little one.


I blew through the grasses, following the memories where they led.

What was before me? asked Emery.

Before you? Dustin whimpered. I had a cat friend. Her name was Otter. 


Was she a good cat?

That she was.

And where is she now?

Don’t know, little. Not here. Maybe in the After.


How can she be in the After if she was Before? wondered Emery.


I followed the night breeze up to the moon and left the white sire and his white pup below to ponder the Big Questions. Up here, it doesn’t matter. We stop asking, because making sense ceases to matter. Let the little ones wonder! Our minds seek no more.

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