Puppy Love 9

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

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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.

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See? said Bartholomew. Lukie’s eating snack!

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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

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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.

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

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

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

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Crackers feigned disinterest.

“Whatcha matter? Got business? Pounce!”

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

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

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

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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.

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

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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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Wonder 12

Mae

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“Tia Berry!” Charlie said this morning. “Guess what today is?”

“Chips-for-breakfast day?”

“No, silly! Kickball day! And if I get there first at recess, I get to be the captain!”

Charlie ran off to school full of excitement.

The day passed quickly. Beryl painted. I cleaned house and watched a boring movie on TV. It felt good to sit for a few hours and let my mind go numb from bad acting.

We were standing out in the yard chatting by Beryl’s easel when Charlie came home in the afternoon.

He stood out front for a moment.

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I wondered if he was taking in the view. Sometimes the clouds over the mountains steal our breath. Berry spends hours telling us stories about the captains and crews of the tall ships sees in those clouds.

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“How was kickball?” I asked Charlie at supper.

“Good,” he said.

“Not great?”

“It was OK. I was captain, and we won. No big deal.”

After supper, when he was drawing, I came over to listen to him. When we were kids, Berry used to talk so much when she was drawing. That’s when she’d really open up with me if something was bothering her. I thought maybe Charlie might be the same.

“Why do there have to be losers?” he asked.

“What do you mean, Charlie?”

“When our team won, the other team lost, and they were sad. Pierce said they were losers, and Martin started to cry. I don’t want to be a winner if it means it’s gonna make the other guy sad.”

Huh. I didn’t know what to say. Did I think about ethical dilemmas when I was a little kid? I guess I did. I never thought about how my winning made someone else feel badly, though. I always wanted to do my best, and if that meant I won, so be it.

“I’m not sure I know the answer to that one, Charlie,” I said at last. “Some questions don’t have easy answers. But that’s cool. That means you get to think about it. So, you can keep on thinking about this one, and maybe you can talk about it with me, your pai, and Berry, and you can fill us in on what you discover. This can be one of those lifelong questions you explore.”

“Do you think the robber goes faster if his car has more glitter or less?” he asked me, turning back to his drawing.

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Berry brought out a surprise she’d gotten him: his own fiddle. She showed him how to hold it, how to use his left hand to play notes and his right to hold the bow, and, to our surprise, within half an hour, he was actually sounding decent.

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After forty-five minutes, we could recognize the tune he was playing, the team song for his dad’s old soccer team.

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I expected he’d grow bored, or his fingers would hurt, or his bow arm would get tired, but he stayed out in the garden playing for hours.

“Should I let him keep playing?” I asked Berry.

She laughed. “You’re the one who insisted that he be allowed to play computer games to his heart’s content, and now you’re wondering if you should restrict his time on his violin? What happened to ‘every obsession is a chance for mastery’?”

I had to laugh. I guess, for me, playing computer games for hours on end seems like fun, so why curtail fun? But playing a violin for hours seems like such hard work! To Beryl, it must be the other way around–the computer’s boring, but the violin is heaven.

Charlie loves both.

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He came in for a snack eventually.

“You like the violin, then?” I asked him.

“It’s all right,” he said. “I like Berry’s scrambled eggs better.”

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