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 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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Puppy Love 11


We played in the After, chasing light butterflies, frolicking under void clouds.

When I remembered to return, I faced a giant. Little Miss Molly had become a very big dog, indeed.


Caleb was as smitten as ever.


Go on, said Mochi. Make puppies already.

Oh, Ma! said Caleb, and I thought I saw the tip of his nose blush.


Really, Mrs. Golde, said Little Miss Molly. I think we might, but maybe not if you were watching?


I called Mochi to me. Let’s romp in the fields! I suggested. Show me what you’ve found!

We left Molly and Caleb to their doggy date, while we ran through the meadows. Have you ever seen a solitary dog, racing apparently alone, across a field, ears flapping, tail circling, and the broadest grin on her face? You thought the dog was simply expressing the joy of life. But maybe the dog wasn’t really alone–maybe the dog was racing the spirits, and this wasn’t merely joy-of-life, but that greatest joy, joy-of-all, combining the now, the After, the physical, the metaphysical. Who says dogs aren’t superstitious for a reason? It’s because, more than any, they are ever aware of our presence.


When next I returned, I found Lucas bathing Molly.

“Here you go, Little Miss,” he said, “or should I call you, Little Missus! This will help with those aches and pains you’ve got. Not easy being a mommy-to-be, is it?”


So she was expecting! Tongue hanging out, tail drooping, feet shuffling, it looked like she was at the mercy of an uncomfortable pregnancy.

I’m OK, really I am, she said. And I had to admire her resolve.


It is always the light that takes me away, and the light that carries me back again.

The next time I came,  Bosko and Majora accompanied me, and we weren’t sure what to expect.


Through the fields streaked white lightning.


I’m not looking, Bosko said, superstitious even in the After, but I can feeling something behind me.

I think it’s a pup! I said.

Can’t be. It’s white, said Bosko. Pups are brown or black or tan.


Pups can be white, I said.

Not that I’ve seen, replied Bosko.

But sure enough, it was a bouncing, racing, pouncing white pup.


Meet Dustin, said Caleb, kissing his son.


And so they had just the one pup, a little white male, with a curly tail, and a wide, high brow, and playful, laughing eyes.

Majora streaked through. This pup is trouble! she said. Black cats? Nothing! Watch out for white pups!

I had to chuckle. Dustin sat and politely waited for Majora to race past. He didn’t look like trouble to me!


Good going, Little Miss Molly, I said. That’s quite a pup you and Caleb have.

Sure is, said Molly, if I do say so myself. He may be little now, but one day, he will be a giant!


He may be, at that!

I hovered beside him.

Hello, little pup, I said. You have a look about you of your great grandpa Bobie–same sweet eyes! And a little curly tail like your grandpa, Bartholomew. And look at those sweet floppy ears! Just like Papa Caleb! You are one fine pup, Dustin! Even if you are the first white lightning pup of the family!


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Puppy Love 10


The next time I showed up, the dogs and Otter clustered around the door. And what was that tiny little being I spied between Mochi’s feet?

It looked like a puppy!

It was! It was Molly, the not-yet-giant schnauzer.


The same adoption agent that delivered Mochi to us was here. But this time, he seemed to need some convincing.

“I know we have a lot of dogs?” said Lucas. “And a cat? But we’ve still got room? At least in our hearts?”


They sat together.

“I admit they all seem healthy,” said the agent, “and they look happy. But it can really change the dynamics when you introduce a new dog into the mix. Are you sure you’re ready for that?”

“Do I look ready! I’m ready?” Lucas replied.


At last the agent was somewhat convinced.

“Let’s consider it a trial,” he said as he was leaving. “Give it a day or two, a week, and if there are any concerns at all, we won’t hold you to it. She’s a good dog! We won’t have any trouble re-homing her, if needed!”

“Oh?” said Lucas. “It won’t be needed!”

As soon as the door closed, Molly ran up to Caleb.

I’m Little Miss Molly! she shouted.

I’m smitten! said Caleb.


You’re very big, she said.

You will be, too, he replied, one day. Until then, I’ll show you the ropes.


And while Otter watched on, he taught her how to play.

First you fake down low, like this.


And then you pounce! 

Otter snickered. She was the one who’d taught Caleb how to pounce!


Think you’ve got it? Caleb asked.

Let her try! Just let her try it! suggested Otter.


Molly took a more vocal approach.

I’m bigger than you! she barked. I’m bigger! One day… ay-ay-ay…


When Lucas went to bed, I called Tanvi over so we could pup-sit together.

“She’s a lively little thing, isn’t she, Tan?” I asked.

“Needs to be,” said Tanvi, “to keep up with this crew.”


“Happy, Bartholomew?” I asked.

He nodded.

“I’m happy, too,” said Tanvi.


I was, too.


Such fine dogs, Caleb and Crackers were! I felt awed when I considered that these were my Bobie’s grandpups, both so tall and strong. I couldn’t see much of Bobie in them, physically, but they both had his kind and gentle nature–and they had their grand-dam’s stubbornness!

“Mochi really brought in some beauty to this line, didn’t she, Tanvi?” I asked. “And a good bit of size!”


“Oh, yes,” said Tanvi. “But they’ve also got all their sire’s sweetness!”


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