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 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 18


Dustin and Chloe needed little encouragement to create a family.

I felt gratitude for myself, and joy that Bobi’s line would continue, but Lucas felt the greater joy.  He’d be co-parent, friend, and companion to any future pup of theirs!


As for Chloe, she was enamored with her handsome, brave, idiosyncratic mate.


She wasn’t sure about his habit of nightly dips in the pool.

Come out, please? She whimpered, cowering.

I’m not done yet! Dustin barked yet.

But you might… drown?

Dustin barked a laugh. He was a strong swimmer!


The sun sped along its Milky Way orbit. The earth wobbled around the sun. We all spun, at ridiculously fast rates, through space, but since we were all moving together, and it all happened faster than we could comprehend, we felt that we were standing still.

Though we weren’t.

The passage of time brought changes. A new gardener.


A gray muzzle for Caleb.


Long, lazy days in the garden for his aging brother Crackers, with his stiff joints.


And then time brought a puppy to Dustin and Chloe.


Emery wasn’t sure what to make of his place as the littlest member of the household.


I don’t feel little inside! he barked.


I feel like a tornado!


Look at me! I’m Tornado the Twister!


Aaaa-oooo! I am the Doog in the Mooon! he howled. They call me Emmmm-errrr-eeeeeooooo!


What a good dog! With his head tilted to the heavens, and his curl of a tail, he reminded me of Bobi. Oh, to see the genetic memories, stored in the patterns of the newest pup!

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Puppy Love 12


Dustin, little lightning pup, had a certain quality, and I found myself smiling to think that he might pass that spark down through the family line.


It wasn’t just his smile, though he had the sparklingest laughing eyes I ever did see.


And it wasn’t just his sweetness, which caused all the grown dogs to dote on him.


They seemed to know he was special, too, and they took turns playing with and watching over him.


“What do you think of the pup, cat?” Lucas and Otter conferred.


Otter had spent quite a bit of time watching the little one’s antics.

“I think he’s pretty smart, too,” said Lucas.


Already, Dustin and Lucas had become best friends. I’d been noticing how Lucas was developing an intuitive understanding of dogs, exceeding what I’d learned in my years with Bobie and his pack.

He was a very smart young man, that Lucas was. And he was quick to adapt his ways to fit the needs of the individual cat or dog he was relating to. Plus, he had a quiet, gentle way about him, and a soft voice that critters responded to.


One afternoon, I found Dustin out by the back pool, looking like he wanted to jump in.

Stay back, barked Bartholomew, pouncing towards the pup.


Why, granddog? whimpered the pup. I likes water!


Can’t swim, can you, pup?

I could, if I could try! answered Dustin.


Maybe when you’re a big dog, said Bartholomew. For now, we keep you out of the wet. You got a big responsibility, little dog.

What’s that? asked the pup.

The whole family line. You gotta grow up and have pup or two of your own, replied his grandsire.


Bartholomew stood between his grandpup and the deep wet pool, staring him down until he trotted off into the house.

I will be a big pup one day, said Dustin. Such a good dog! All the same, I was happy Bartholomew and the other big dogs were there to keep him safe. That little pup carried a big responsibility, as Caleb and Miss Molly’s sole offspring.


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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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Puppy Love 9


Lucas had been picking up my violin, and Caleb was none-too-happy about it!


Neither was Mochi. Even after he put away the instrument, Mochi and Caleb covered their eyes.

What’s wrong? Bartholomew asked.

Sounds like spiders! said Mochi.

Sounds like the refrigerator! Dancing on a chalkboard! said Caleb.

What’s this? I realized I could hear them.

It’s over now, anyway, said Bartholomew. It’s quiet!

Caleb dared to peek.


See? said Bartholomew. Lukie’s eating snack!

Nope! said Caleb. I can still hear it! The after-tones! They’re after me!


Coast is clear, said Mochi, lifting up her head and trotting out back.

See? said Bartholomew. Your ma says it’s OK!


Well, if Ma says so, it must be! said Caleb.

“What’s up, Caleb?” asked Lucas. “Ready for a walk?”


While Caleb and Lucas took a walk down to the wharf, I sat with the other dogs and Otter. We had a lazy afternoon, and we were just getting up from our afternoon nap when they returned.


I checked on the garden. The gardener was doing a great job with it. All the plants were as healthy as they were when Tanvi and I tended them.

On the way back in, I found Caleb practicing yoga–downward dog of course–while Crackers meditated nearby.


I waited until Lucas went to sleep before manifesting into form. I had something very specific I wanted to check: Lucas’s browsing history.

There it was: The Animal Rescue Adoption page.

And it looked like Lucas had bookmarked the profile of female giant schnauzer puppy.


Bosko and Bobie waited for me outside. We had planned to head back together.

“Don’t worry, boys!” I said. “Lucas is making sure the lineage stays strong! It’s Golde puppies forever!”


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Puppy Love 7


A houseful of puppies offers a strong lure! I visited often, to play music for the pups, to watch their training, to take part in this busy furry family.


Otter taught both pups the tricks of Pounce and Retreat. Caleb proved to be an apt pupil.


When I could, I played the violin for them. The music always drew Bartholomew from wherever he’d been roaming. Usually, he would sing along, sometimes joined by Otter, while Mochi listened appreciatively.


One might think that Bach never intended his partitas for solo violin to be accompanied by howls and meowls, but I know differently! The Great Composer has often said that his music was written for all.


My heart was most warmed by seeing the love that both Mochi and Bartholomew had for their pups.


We were so lucky in Mochi! Of course, she was beautiful. But she was also smart, loyal, and devoted.


Crackers, with his little loop of a tail, was growing into a sweet, smart pup.


Mochi was proud of both pups. I had the feeling that she thought of Caleb as her mini-me, while Crackers favored Bartholomew.


Crackers seemed to be a Bartholomew-in-training, choosing most often to be with his sire and doing whatever it was his sire was doing.


As for Lucus, I couldn’t be prouder. He kept everyone happy and well cared-for.


Sometimes, when I listened carefully, tuned into the correct frequency, I could hear what the pups were saying.

“Pounce, Crackie!” Caleb joked. “Pounce me!”


Crackers feigned disinterest.

“Whatcha matter? Got business? Pounce!”


“I’ll pounce you!” shouted Crackers, swinging back for the surprise attack.


When Lucus walked in on their games, they turned to serenade him.

“Lucas! Lukie! We love yoooo—owl! Oooowl! Yooooou!”


Lucas never forgot us who’ve crossed over. He, Bartholomew, and Otter often visited our tombstones.

We heard him speak to us.

“We’ve got a full house?” he said. “Very nearly? It’s hard work. Am I doing OK? But I’m doing my best?”

“Of course you are!” Tanvi and I always said back. “You’re doing great! We’re so proud!” But I’m not sure he heard us.


When Babe and Nibbler came in the midnight moon to visit, Lucas shared love with them.


Tanvi always tells me that it is love that keeps us real. Without love, we would fade away. But love, it binds our spirits whole, so that even when the material of form fades, our substance of love remains.


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Puppy Love 6


I felt the pull home and arrived to find Otter mid-leap.

Who would the Gaunt Man come for this time?

Tanvi. My heart leapt–to think we’d be together again! And my heart sank, to think of those she was leaving behind. To think of her own farewell to earthly pleasures.


She must have been filling the supper bowl when the chime rang. I knelt beside her, whispering, I have so much to show you! Don’t be afraid. It’s wondrous!


The door creaked open and the shepherd walked in. Bartholomew and Otter weren’t afraid. They knew his tall shape well.


“Give it a rest!” I said to him when he tried his come-on again. “It’s business, not pleasure.”


He grumbled and pulled out his tablet. “Well, I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news? This is my last scheduled visit here for quite some time. No more pick-ups in the near future. That’s the bad news, too. Won’t you miss me?”


“I won’t,” I said.

He swung, and his scythe stuck in the rafters.

“You really need to work on your technique,” I said. “That keeps impaling things.”

But it made no difference, of course. It’s a metaphorical tool, not physical, and metaphors are easy to unstick.


Otter arched and hissed. The shadow one may be familiar, but that doesn’t excuse what he does when he comes.


Lucas napped in the bedroom, and we let him sleep. Grief can wait.

Mochi, well-acquainted with ceremony, led the procession to the line of tombstones.


Bartholomew followed.

Lucas had reported that Bartholomew got a clean bill of health at his last visit to the vet. “Little dogs can live quite a while,” the vet said, “and there’s no reason for Bartholomew not to be around for years and years.”


I wasn’t sure, at first, if Bartholomew wanted to remain for years and years, while his brother and sister, his sire and dam, Tanvi and I all roamed through bright fields.


But when they finished mourning, Mochi led Bartholomew on a romp, and I could see every reason that he would want to stay.

I noticed then that Mochi’s teats were full and her belly sagged. Was she expecting? Would we have pups?


Inside, Otter kept a close watch on the tall one, sitting vigilantly near his feat.

“Weren’t you leaving?” I asked.

“After this show,” he said. “It’s The Flavors of Provence! My favorite cooking show!”

Otter mewed.


Mochi made her way back to the house, walking slowly toward Lucas’s room.


He knew, when he woke, what had happened. Tanvi was gone.

It’s all right, I whispered. She’s with me. She’s with our pups and Majora! And she’ll return to visit.


But I know my words don’t bring solace.

I came back–it must have been a few days or a week later–feeling a pull once again. But this time, it was a happy pull.

Mochi had puppies, Caleb, a beautiful smoky pup, and Crackers, chocolate with a curled tail like his sire and grandsire.


Such lovely dogs! Such intelligent pups! And what a good mom!


Grief doesn’t stand a chance against puppy snuggles!


Caleb leaned into Lucas’s hand as he stroked the taut puppy belly.


When Lucas headed inside, Caleb sat back and howled in a strong alto, just like Bartholomew used to do when he was pup.


Crackers liked Lucas’s touch, too. I wanted to wrap my finger inside the curl of the tail, like I used to do with Bobie. But for that, one needs a corporeal finger–light-fingers slide right through.


When the puppy-high wore off, Lucas slammed into grief. Bartholomew followed him out to the graves.

Speak, boy! Bark!

Bartholomew sang.


That was all Lucas needed. Bartholomew was grieving, too, he realized. And they could comfort each other.


When I built up the energy to light up my form, I visited again.

“How are you, Mochi, dear?” I asked. “You’re looking noble!”


Mochi barked once, and the puppies crawled out from under the couch.


“Astrid!” Lucas said when he saw me. “Look! We have puppies! This is Caleb!”


“He is lovely!” I said. “He and Crackers are the most lovely puppies that ever were!”

“They really are!” said Lucas. “We all think so?”

I cheered. A houseful of puppies is the most lovely thing!


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Whisper 2.15

Heya, Shan. Thanks for the postcard you sent. I love the painting of lava you did on the cover, and the one word you wrote on the back made my day.

“Radical” has always been one of my favorite words.

We had big drama at home this week. You like drama? Naw, me neither. But with a rebel teenage brother and a law-abiding IF helping me raise said little brother, drama is bound to happen.

I was out for a long nighttime run. I love running at night. There’s hardly any traffic, and I can feel the frost creep up as the temperature drops, and the stars! Well, the stars look like ice crystals, but I know they’re suns for other worlds. So there I was, running under the suns of other worlds, when the whole three act drama plays out at home.


See, Bo went over to the Wolffs’ house after school. It’s sort of a tradition, since I always went home with Waylon after school, and now Bo goes home with Gator. Our family kinda likes hanging out with the werewolves.


Bo said he had a great time over there.  He did his homework–before playing video games, I might add! Then he listened to Dwayne playing the guitar.


And then, before he knew it, it was late. He got a courtesy ride home–from the cops. He persuaded the cop to let him off down the street so he could walk home as if nothing had happened.


But he wasn’t counting on Riley waiting up for him. She’s got a thing about following the rules.


“Um. So. I’m home?” Bo said.


Riley let into him. Of course, knowing Riley, I’m sure she was sweet about it and never even raised her voice. Let’s just say that she read him the riot act in sotto voce.


She told me that he actually applauded her speech.

“That was awesome!” he said. “You used about twenty of the best why-follow-rules cliches ever! Even the classic: ‘rules are for following!’ Duh! I bet the rule-makers paid you big bucks for using that one!”


He was mad. She was hurt.

“So, how much do I have to pay you to keep you from grounding me or telling on me to Marigold?”

She said that was the final straw, and she grounded him for a week.


When I got home, there was such a fuss waiting. Bo was upstairs, rocking as fast as he could in the rocking chair, and Riley was downstairs, rocking as slowly as she could in the rocking chair, and the upstairs floor was creaking lickety-split, while the downstairs floor was groaning and moaning!

I had to pry the story out of Riley, for she really didn’t want to tell on Bo. We talked a bit. I told her the story about when I was out after curfew and got a ride home in the cop car. That was also at the Wolffs’ house! And I got grounded, too.

“But then Mom ungrounded me,” I told Riley. “It’s a stupid rule, anyway, and we were never meant to follow stupid rules! Besides, having to ride home in a cop car is punishment enough.”

“Bo thought it was cool,” she said. But she agreed that we could let Bo off the hook. She was too mad and too hurt to speak to him. “I’ll talk to him tomorrow,” she said. “If he apologizes.”

So I went upstairs to tell Bo he wasn’t grounded, after all, but that, all the same, it’s probably a good idea to be home by ten.

Oh! But I left out the best part!

On my run, I swung by the festival grounds.


And guess what I saw? Puppies!


There were two of the most adorable, bouncy puppies!


Are you sure you don’t want to move to Moonlight Falls with me? We could get our own house and adopt puppies! They’ve got two! One for me and one for you!


Think about it?

I miss you.



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