Home is where your dog is


When we arrived last evening the little guy couldn’t contain himself. He ran back and forth between us, wagging his tail and jumping for joy. Barclay’s been accident-free for more than a year. When I picked him up the second time, his tummy was slightly wet. He was so relieved to have us home and we were equally relieved. -:) So was Kristin, his care-giver since Dec. 30, who announces our homecoming in this video.

Home is where your dog is.


Basking in the Light – “What a good boy!”


Apologies to you who foolishly stopped by today looking for something serious! We’ve been thinking about lesser things the last few days.

Like about cats and dogs and humans. It started with a verse from Steve Shoemaker about an old man and his dog, followed by a humorous fight between cat-lovers and dog-lovers on the social media site that begins with an ‘f’ and ends with a ‘k’. Then came Steve’s verse about his old cat, the Queen Cat, and this morning’s “Kennel-Mates, After Work” about a young Irish Wolfhound (Steve) and a tabby cat (Nadja). A few hours later the video of Sleepy Head Barclay reached us through cyberspace from back home in Minnesota.

While Kay and I are basking in the sun in St. Augustine, FL, Barclay the Soccer Dog had some quiet time this morning under an artificial SAD (“Seasonal Affect Disorder”) light back home in cold Minnesota. The voice belongs to his older sister Kristin. We’re not into philosophy, theology, politics, or global news this morning. I hope your world is lighter peeking behind the curtain of intimacy, you break into a smile for 35 seconds.

Kennel-mates, After Work

At first when they paired-off, the dog and cat
would fight when they got home from work. His bark

was silent almost the whole day, and that
made the young Irish wolfhound want to speak

so badly he would arf and yowl when she
came through the door. The tabby, though had heard

enough already, thank you, from the three
cats and five dogs in her small lab, and would

soon scratch at him “Can’t you leave me alone?!”
Their love made them negotiate, in time:

he gave her thirty minutes to wind down,
and then would softly smooth her fur… When tame,

she’d purr, and they would share their different days:
his reading, her solving squabbles between

the strange and varied, feisty animals
at work. Neither the dog nor cat was mean

at heart. There didn’t have to be a spat
each day…even between a dog and cat.

– Steve Shoemaker, Urbana, IL, Jan. 30, 2015

A Man and His Dog

Barclay and Gordon

Barclay and Gordon

Few bonds are as close as a man and his dog. I sorely miss Barclay, the soccer dog, who’s living with his “sister” Kristin while Kay and I are “somewhere else” for a long time.

Kristin reports he’s doing well, eating all his food, taking his medicine, and happily playing goalie with his ball.

I wonder if Robert Frost had a dog. After writing “Mending Wall,” – Something there is that doesn’t love a wall….”, he might have thought, “Something there is that loves…a dog.”



Verse – An Old Man and His Dog

He limps as the other clicks
along the sidewalk beside him.
Slowly, they walk together,
And loneliness falls behind a few paces.
They partake of one spirit.
They know the mystery of
growing old together.

Ah yes, there’s a world beyond them,
But now they know more
Of a priceless world between them.
One glance, and a thousand worlds
spring form the depths
Knowing a direction far beyond
the concrete way beneath them.

– Dale Hartwig (1940-2012) from the window of a care center, Grand Rapids, MI.

Joyful Obedience


Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could all be this well trained in the things that bring joy to others and to ourselves? This is 10-month-old Barclay wanting to please the Alpha Dog and the Beta Dog. The commands were sit, down, roll over, off (which means “leave it”), come, and heel.

Barclay preparing to go to school

All schools in Minnesota will be closed Monday out of concern for children’s safety. Governor Dayton wants no child left behind freezing at a bus stop. The prediction is 50 degrees below zero with wind chill. Meanwhile, seven-month old Barclay is practicing for his first trip outside in booties. He’s a champ, despite the slur in the narration. He’s attending his first obedience class Monday night in New Germany, MN. Unless they call school off.

The Puppy in the Memory Care Center

Barclay, the 6 month old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, walks on his leash in the pastor’s hand down the long first floor hall of the memory care center. People stop and smile. Barclay paws at their legs, scaring a few, but mostly arousing greater desire to touch his soft, fluffy fur.

This is Barclay’s first experience in the memory care center. It’s also his first ride on an elevator. We take the elevator to the second floor.

I knock on the door. We walk in the room to see a parishioner who loves dogs. She’s always had a dog before she lost her independence. Barclay goes to the bed, puts his paws on the side of the bed, and begs to be lifted to say hello to Susan. Susan’s eyes open wide. “Oh, my!” she says. Her face is beaming. I lift Barclay to meet Susan. She reaches out to touch and is delighted by his softness. He licks her face, kisses her mouth, brings her to the rapture only a puppy can at this point in her dying life. There is no time. Time disappears. There is no then. No there. No anywhere but here, no time but now in puppy time on the second floor of the memory care center where Susan doesn’t know she is.

There is NOTHING in this world like a puppy. He just loves everyone the same whether or not we know our own names. Is it a coincidence that ‘dog’ spelled backwards Is ‘god’?

Barclay is watching from the floor. His “owner” is doing something with Susan. “Dad” tales Susan’s hand. They’re holding hands. They close their eyes. Dad is talking in a peaceful tone of voice Barclay hasn’t heard before. It’s very quiet in the room. Susan’s face relaxes and is at peace. Long after Dad has stopped talking, Susan’s eyes stay closed. They hold hands for a long time in the silence. She is at peace. Maybe Susan has gone to be with dog.

BOO! The grandson, the dog, and the grandfather

Isn’t technology wonderful? Memories of Jack, now 12, and the ever playful, ever licking Maggie.

My Grandfather Stewart would play this game for hours. I’d cover him with pillows; he’d cover me with pillows. The resurrection always came as a surprise, as up from the grave we arose!