Freed from the leash on 9/11

Yesterday, on the anniversary of  9/11, Kay and I hiked on the Echo Trail near Ely, MN with 2 year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Barclay. Barclay knows nothing about airplanes, falling buildings, religion, economics, terror, or war. He makes friends with everyone. He rejoices in the present, leaping in the air, joyful for no particular reason.

On the hike we set him free from his leash and watch him romp along the trail, out and away from us – but not too far – and then galloping back like a race horse when called. Unfortunately, Kay’s slow motion video wouldn’t load for viewing.

Freed of his leash

he runs and leaps

his feathery coat

and flopping ears

fill the stale air

with the breeze

of joy unleashed.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, September 12, 2015

Since we couldn’t upload yesterday’s slo-mo video, here’s a different view of Barclay’s playful spirit.

“Where’s Mom? I Need Mom!”



Barclay must have been begging for help during the night without a mother to hear his desperate pleas. Kay (Mom) has been out of town for a week.

When I approached his kennel this morning, there was an odor. But I thought to myself, that can’t be. Barq hasn’t had an accident in 18 months. His colitis is under control. I was just praising his habits to friends yesterday.

I opened the kennel door. Barclay rushed downstairs in a panic, leaving a trail behind him on the upstairs landing, down the flight of 18 steps, on the downstairs entry floor and carpet before I could get him outdoors Poor little guy.

So I’ve been cleaning up the mess, wiping the floors and soiled carpets, laundering his blankets, de-fumigating his kennel, bathing him, drying him, and brushing him out ever since. Barclay is resting comfortably now on the sofa while I go up and down the stairs wash doing the laundry.

On behalf of Barclay, I sent the following email to Kay, who this morning is with her six girlfriends at the retreat house in northeast Nebraska owned and operated by the Audubon Society.

He needs his mom badly. Bad mom! Bad mom!

“Where’s mom? I need mom!” he asks with those big brown eyes. “She’s in Nebraska with the birds,” I tell him. “Why is she in Nebraska, and what’s she doing with the birds? Does she like the birds more than me?” “No, Barq, she’s with her girlfriends at an Audubon sanctuary.” “What’s an Audubon? Is that like those fast highways they have in Germany? Is mom driving too fast? Will mom be safe driving?” “Yes, mom will be safe. She driving in a great big car today down to the Audubon river with her girlfriends.” “Car?! Ride in the car?!” “No, Barq, mom’s riding in the car with her girlfriends.” “Aw, Mom likes girls better than us? Why, dad, why? Is that why she wasn’t here last night to help me? Is that why you had to pick up my poop and pee – ‘cause it was a guy’s pee and poop? Is mom ever coming back? Are we alone here together, just the two of us, when only one of us can hear?” “No, mom loves you very much, Barq. No need to worry. She’s coming back on Monday. She’s driving back in her car….” “Car? Go for the ride in the car? Can we, Dad?” “Not right now, Barq, Dad has to continue to dry you out and comb you before we can do anything like that, and, besides, you’re not getting any breakfast this morning. Your stomach has to recover today.” “Mom would give me breakfast!!!” “No, she wouldn’t because you’re sick.” “I’m not a dick, Dad, I just don’t feel well. If mom thinks we’re both dicks and mom likes girls better than guys, do you think there’s a danger she might not come back, that she might stay with her girlfriends and the birds by the Autobahn?”

In short – we’re having a most exquisite Saturday morning.

– Gordon C. Stewart, lonely in Chaska, Minnesota, May 30, 2015.

Everyone’s Desire

Pyrenees-Saint  Bernard and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Bernard and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Is there a common DNA between the frisky six-month-old 10 pound Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy and the lumbering two-year-old 150 pound Pyrenees-Saint Bernard who have just met?

Most large dogs ignore Barclay’s constant pawing for attention, but not this dog. Aside from their size, Sophie and Barclay could be mother and son. The fur is the identical. Its texture is the same: soft and fluffy. Slightly wavy. Beautiful to the touch. The coloring is identical: patches of auburn painted on new fallen fluffy snow white.

Watching Barclay and Sophie following each other around the crowded room on Thanksgiving after the huge meal at the retirement center lightens the air in the room and makes me thankful for these amazing creatures who we presume know nothing about conscious acts of thanksgiving, but who demonstrate the simplicity of joy and relationship that too often escapes families of the species that doggedly presumes its superiority to the canines.

We are thankful for the momentary intrusion into the relationships we take for granted. Joyful for the shared DNA and the union of two dogs who couldn’t be more different or more alike, an attraction of opposites whose fur and color mysteriously share the same DNA. Caught up in the ecstatic union of self-forgetful play that is everyone’s desire.

Footnote on the photograph:

The photograph was published by The Ipswich Star with the caption “King Charles Cavalier Spaniel Fred meets St Bernard Chopin at the Landguard Dog’s Day on Sunday, 19 May” with the following description by the photographer.

“I have to say I love this photo. I stopped to take a photo of St Bernard Chopin whose owners where feeding him his own ice cream at the Landguard Dog Day when he flopped down and Fred, a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel, a fraction of Chopin’s size came right up to his face sniffing away.

“Their colouring was so close it was perfect.”

Dad was bad today

Barclay (Cavalier King Charles Spaniel) and bad Dad (homo sapiens)

Barclay (Cavalier King Charles Spaniel) and bad Dad (homo sapiens)

The new puppy (3 pounds 8 ounces) was leaping from my arms, flying to the sidewalk before I knew what was happening. It happened so quickly. Barclay was still excited from meeting the children around the corner; he was not his customary docile self.

The plunge from my arms was terrifying. The yelping was blood-curdling. I thought for sure he had hit his head or broken a leg or suffered some internal injury. He crawled forward under the Blue Spruce for protection, still crying loudly. I fetched him from under the tree, held him close, apologized profusely – “I’m so sorry, little guy. I’m so sorry” – and carried him into the house, still traumatized and whimpering. He settled down in my arms while I checked his body for signs of damage. Finding none, I put him down to see how he would walk. His walk was slow but straight. He spent the rest of the day more quietly but was fine as the day wore on, returning to his playful self during late afternoon play time.

Barclay greeted Kay’s return from work with a wagging tail and kisses to her face, as if to say, “Dad was bad today, but I forgave him. I’m glad you’re home!”

It’s a Puppy World

Barclay on chestAfter much careful (actually impulsive) thought, we decided to add to the household. Barclay arrived in this world May 21, 2013. We brought him home last Sunday evening.

Barclay is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, a breed known for extraordinary companionship, quietness, intelligence, beauty, and ease of training, all of which drew us to the breed. But when we saw this little guy, saw those big eyes and that excitedly wagging tail, picked him up (all 3 lbs.6 ounces of him), and experienced the quick licks to the face and gentle nibbles on the ear, we were putty in a 10 week-old puppy’s paw.

Life has changed for him and for us.

He has a home…..and our sleeping days are over. He’s very quiet. Doesn’t whine at all. As we learned Monday night, he’s too young to make it through the night without a potty time. Poor little guy was cold, wet, and shivering when Kay came down at 4:30 for her cup of coffee and quiet time. He recovered well throughout the day, and we adjusted our schedule to be better “parents” to the un-house-broken baby. He has had no other accidents…largely because I watch his every move every day. I’m the stay-at-home puppy dad who now required TWO naps a day, just like Barclay.

We feel very blessed to have lost our mind and ask your good wishes and prayers that the three of us survive puppyhood in “a good way,” as our American Indian friends say.