here’s to the dog

Here’s to the dog who transformed from a scared, skinny, reserved mess into a brave, athletic, playful son. When we first met you at the pound, we took you into the yard to see how you’d interact with us. As Dad threw a ball, rather than fetching, you cowered, trying desperately to disappear into yourself.  Our hearts broke at the invisible story that brought you to such a sad place. For years, we didn’t think you had a voice at all. Maybe your box had been removed? Dad would give me such shit for trying to teach you to speak. But you learned, didn’t you. You found your voice and the courage to use it to protect us, to laugh with us, to tell us you were there, to tell us you were hungry. Our hearts applauded your self-discovery. We knew you came into your own when we’d let you loose on at the local park, and you would run like a freak. Unabashed. Insanely. Comically. Gleefully. Our hearts celebrated at the freedom you finally felt in love.

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Here’s to the dog who transformed us into ninjas in the morning. As our bodies eased out of deep slumber, we’d stealthily adjust in the bed so as not to awaken your bladder. Our even worst was when our bladders were awake. We’d lie there in pain, just so we didn’t give you the false impression that our day was, indeed, actually starting. Or sometimes, you went into the ninja business with one of us. So as not to awaken the other parent, one of us would coax you out of the bedroom as sneakingly as possible. But alas, your hummingbird tail always drummed the bed, the walls, the door, our souls: the imperfect perfect alarm clock.

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Here’s to the dog who was my dancing companion. You know as well I do, Momma don’t clean without some good music. And so there I’d be in the living room, blasting Rihanna or Britney Spears or Juanes, and well of course my feet and hips would catch on. And so would yours. You’d look at me from your bed, then your tail would mark time, then you’d raise to your feet and bow your chest to the ground, then you’d come to me, then I’d pat my chest, and what do you know, I’m in my living room dancing with a four-legged companion, upright on your hind quarters, paws on my shoulders, mouth panting in rhythmed ecstasy.

1930457_33430112812_8591_n 1919160_192461262812_7397308_n 38418_439971082812_4160013_n 73041_492507727812_2398029_n 73694_492508172812_1248683_n 261853_10150308992172813_6826574_n 425146_10150641017682813_1306980350_n 1044143_10151737797722813_1331969970_nHere’s to the dog who never met a rock you didn’t conquer. No matter what trail, what state, what adventure, the nearest rock would eventually become your throne as you explored it and scratchily fell off it and climbed atop again and eventually planted your paws like Armstrong on the moon, standing tall and regal, tail in the wind like a flag’s declaration, surveying the conquest.

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Here’s to the dog who was just the goofiest kid who just wanted desperately to be liked by his peers. You hated water until you saw one of the cool kids running around in it. You didn’t understand fetch until you saw another dog doing it, then you tried out for the team but didn’t make the cut. Oh, you’ll eat a treat because that dog ate a treat. You loved to stick your nose in anything, even when you found it being exploded back into your face by a sneeze. You playfully wrestled with the ground. You looked like you were seizing when you tried to roll over on command.

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Here’s to the dog who was loved by all those we loved. You were the calm dog everyone felt comfortable being around. You protected the Doyle girls like they were your own. Your were gentle with my aging parents. You let puppies have their space (we’ll pretend this was your honor, instead of the fact that you were petrified by them). You cradled yourself into our families and into our friendships. You were our son, and everybody knew it. And they loved you.

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Here’s to the dog who loved his brother beautifully. You’d fight, and then you’d paw and makeup. You’d share your toys and your treats and your bed. You kept on eye on him when he walked around the block with us. You were compassionate and kind to him as he aged, and then as he died, and then, you stood steady for us our in grief.

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Here’s to the dog who was your Dad’s favorite. When you’d piss me off, he’d defend you. When I didn’t want to get fur bombed, he’d gather you between his legs and pet you. When I looked and looked and looked, he’d go right for that perfect spot around your ears that made you smile like a druggie. You were his dog, and he was your idol.

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Here’s to the dog who was the soul mate for our lifestyle. When we ran, you ran. When we hiked, you hiked. When we camped, you camped. When we melded into the TV, you slept in your bed. When we took road trips, you curled up in the back seat. When we took naps, you snored. When we lounged outside, you curled up in the grass. When we ate, you waited at our feet. When adventure called, you sat politely while we put on your collar. When home beckoned, you greeted us at the door with that one of a kind hip wiggle of yours.

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Here’s to the dog who made our life complete. Here’s to the dog whom we miss with all of the broken pieces of our heart. May you run, smile, rest, and wag in peace.

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and so it goes in life

march 2014 047We spent the past weekend camping in the desert of Utah, tucked into a sandstone labyrinth, beneath the watchful gaze of crimson-colored, ancient, rock-people. After arriving and setting up camp, we sat and listened to the buzzing echo in the near distance of our own ears. It was that. quiet. That buzz reflected the pervasive noise of our busy lives and the challenge of transitioning into the foreign land of stillness.

And so it goes in life. The constant chatter of social media, demanding schedules, endless tasks, and false relaxation haunts our hearing… until it doesn’t. But the transition takes time, patience, endurance. But the reward is a glorious quiet, a quiet glory.

Fyodor Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment

Fyodor Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment

Friday night around the fire brought moments of comfortable silence and sincere comments. But it wasn’t long until our eyes traveled upward to the delightful night sky. We left the glow of the fire and walked out to the vacant desert floor. We snuggled into each other. We debated constellations. After leaving the intrusive light of the fire, it was amazing how the little lights came out in droves, surprising us around every black-blanket crease.

And so it goes in life. Sometimes the darkness is so scary and falsely perceived to be the lack of light. Insecure and fighting for control, we struggle to stay in the happy and comfortable light. But if we never look away, if we never embrace the night sky, if we never give time for our eye’s transition to the deceptive void, we will miss the breath-taking, liquid beauty of a night sky blanketed in so many stars it is more bright than it is dark.

Of course, all this wonder didn’t come without tension. Our first campsite was near the road and beneath the giggly gaze of climbing, high, young, loud neighbors who were there not to settle into stillness, but to perpetuate a petty party. Something in me sunk. Dave, annoyingly, noticed. Both in my heart and out of my mouth I reflected: “I think I need to plan ahead next time where we stay, so that I’m not disappointed.” Dave’s eye roll replied: “Just enjoy the adventure.”march 2014 071

And so it goes in life. There should be an order that avoids chaos, a structure which reduces messiness, a mask which hides the ugliness (shouldn’t there be?!). When that is not the case, we futilely dwell not in the present, but in the past (shoulda’s and coulda’s) and in the future (what if’s). And in doing so, we miss this moment, in all its ugly, chaotic, messy didn’t-happen-before-will-never-happen-again uniqueness.

march 2014 060Saturday morning, we climbed and sat in the laps of rocks nearby. We gazed westward and watched the shifting light dance on the rusted walls of the horizon. We were just a bit chilled with the night crispiness still in the air. But as the sun crested behind our backs, bursting up from behind the barriers, we warmed. We reveled in the firey fingers of the dawn sun. We took mental pictures and Iphone snapshots of our shadow. I was grateful; the sun, forever faithful, appeared for a new day. march 2014 137

And so it goes in life. Sometimes the sun is hidden–in the canyons of catastrophe, the storms of sorrow, the nights of soul-neglect or regret, the haze of heartbreak–but always it is there, always it rises.  Secret, but steady. Eclipsed, but eternal. Concealed, but constant.

march 2014 115Saturday we hiked Little Wild Horse and Bell Canyon, slot canyons carved by the erstwhile eroding hands of water and wind. Sometimes we had to turn to the side to make it through a narrow crevice, sometimes we had to use hands and feet and each other to hop up or down dry waterfalls of rocks taller than us, sometimes we had to skip across slippery rocks in puddles of stagnant, muddy-brown water, sometimes we tripped because we were too consumed looking up and down and all around. But onward we journeyed.

Our dog was off-leash and on-life, running unabashedly this way and that, greeting other groups of hikers, photobombing every one. And many times, he could not make it by himself from point A to point B. And so Dave or I, or Dave and I, carried him in our arms, from height to depth, always to safety and tail-wagging, trust-building freedom.

march 2014 157And so it goes in life. We want to journey forward, but darn it, that barrier-monster, standing stubbornly in the middle of our path, arms folded and eyes glaring. And let’s face it, it’s been there longer, stronger, grounded. But always, there are friends, carrying us down it, or up it, or around it, or through it. And just like Spooner, it’s easier to be carried when we relax in the arms of our rescuer. And just like Dave and I, sometimes we do the carrying, passing the helped from him to me to them…to you.

 

Play

With the snow, ice, and illness hovering around these parts, we have not been able to run as much as we’d like/should. Especially considering that this is our base-building time and next week we up the mileage. Ugh oh. Needless to say, today’s run was rough.

So what’d we do about that? Well…we played.

We stopped to enjoy the scenery of this gorgeous and mild winter day.

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We stopped to hear the bubble of a brook beneath its frozen topcoat.

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And we delighted in the childlike delight of our dog, frolicking freely.

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