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(c) 2011 Christiana Lambert (Puppy Pick-up Road Trip)

(c) 2011 Christiana Lambert (Puppy Pick-up Road Trip)

Could barely watch as our old car crept onto the ramp of the vehicle that would tow it away. No, it wasn’t my father’s Oldsmobile—but it was my father’s Mercury, as well as my mother’s Mercury, before it became ours.

My father planned to go on many adventures when he bought a new Mercury Sable in spring of 2001. But soon after its maiden voyage—a joyful college reunion where he and my mother and their returning classmates of fifty years earlier were honored—he received a diagnosis of cancer’s return. Instead of driving off into sunsets to see his grandchildren, children, and friends, as well as sites previously unknown, he became a passenger in that car, chauffeured often to treatments and procedures back and forth through the canyons forged by the Big Thompson River. Nature’s beauty remained a constant companion on those final journeys he never chose to take.

This would not have been the car my mother chose for herself. But when he died before a year had passed since its purchase, the car was too much depreciated for her to sell it without a loss. So instead she drove off in it on her own solo adventures, as well as those with family members and friends, to locations near and far.

When my mother stopped driving almost six years later, that car came to us for our own adventures, both with and without her. We called the car the Grandma-mobile—which wasn’t really fair since she never would have chosen such a large car with such a long front end. This car most definitely did not fit the picture of what our two 16-year-old drivers preferred, but its ability to seat six worked well when we drove our kids and their friends during the period when their graduated licenses did not yet allow them to drive alone with their age-peers.

You know how the story went. Yes, I ended up with my father’s Mercury, which didn’t fit the picture of what a certain 46-year-old mother wanted to drive either. But we were grateful to receive a good car with low mileage, which was a much-needed answer to our burgeoning transportation needs.

That car played a big role in our own family stories and travels and transitions. It drove off to college loaded down with too much stuff, but returned home with two parents ready for a time of greater rest. The Mercury later transported our family to the sacred grounds where we laid my mother to rest. I picked up my daughter from her first year at college in it so she and I could take a classic western road trip to pick up my new puppy—not that my father would have ever allowed a dog in his car, let alone a puppy leaving his mother for the first time!

When this mom finally got a car more in tune to her dreams (a MINI S), my son Jackson was grateful to inherit the Grandma-mobile. True, he was no fan of parallel parking it but he most definitely appreciated the get-up-and-go as well as the ability to work and play without having to juggle cars with us. Unfortunately, the car (and its driver) got-up-and-went a bit too fast on an icy day last November, leaving the driver unscathed but every panel on the driver’s side damaged—enough so that the insurance company totaled the car due to its age—an age that reminds me just how long my father (and then my mother) have been gone.

Seems fitting that my father’s car left us on the last day of Mercury in retrograde. You may not believe in the power of the stars over our lives but this concept is just the right metaphor for saying goodbye to his Mercury. Astronomically, Mercury in retrograde is the time when the planet Mercury appears to reverse its orbit due to its position in the sky—which looks a whole lot like going backward. According to the StarChild site (linked to NASA), it is not doing so, but “. . . just appears to do so because of the relative positions of the planet and Earth and how they are moving around the Sun.” Astrologers, on the other hand, see Mercury in retrograde not only as a time of complications in areas such as transportation and communication (as Mercury is the god of both areas), but also as a time for returning to past connections.

So, Dad, thanks again for the Mercury—though we never, ever managed to keep up with your standards and plans for its cleanliness, we did our best to live up to your dreams of taking adventures in your chariot of choice.

Farewell, oh fleet-footed one—turns out you were just what we needed after all.

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(c) 2015 Sherman Lambert

(c) 2015 Sherman Lambert

Last night’s nightmare that woke me was about . . . raccoons? I guess Disney didn’t succeed after all in teaching me that those critters were adorable—sorry, Pocahontas, but your little masked sidekick is not welcome in my dreams—or my yard!

Raccoons are definitely roaming our neighborhood at night. Not sure if they’ve made it into our back yard or not, but in my dream they were wandering around just about everywhere back there. Little ones, medium-sized ones, big ones—on the walls of the house, on the picnic table, on the ground—and their beady little eyes gleamed in the dark of night as I tried to keep them from approaching me.

Dreammoods.com says: (t)o see a raccoon in your dream signifies deceit and thievery. You are not being completely honest in some situation. Alternatively, the dream suggests that you are hiding something. You are keeping a secret.

Right—it’s all about me, not the possibility that raccoons could figure out how to access our costly stash of premium dog food, harm our dogs, and/or bite us. I’m being honest when I say I neither want our dogs to be hurt or require expensive surgeries nor do I want to go through that series of rabies shots in my ample mid-section, thank you very much. Plus, we just bought two 26-pound bags of food for our dogs and our daughter got 15 pounds for her pup.

I’m not keeping a secret—I’m just paranoid. However, as my husband likes to say, just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you. They, in this case, relates to those critters I saw slinking away in the neighbors’ bushes or the guy who watched us from the nearby sewer drain as we walked our dogs. None has tried to get me—that I know of—so far.

When I woke in the dark of night, I felt relieved to find myself in bed and not outside my house. Not saying that I was rattled or anything, but after I grabbed a sip of water from the glass I keep for that purpose in the kitchen, I set it down on the edge of the counter and heard it spill over the counter before it fell to the floor. Of course, I poured that water right into my pillbox with the huge (and expensive) supplements I take daily. Despite the hour, I threw on the light in order to save my supplements and clean as best I could, trying not to wake myself up more than I already was, thanks to the pounding of my heart and my overactive imagination.

Were there eyes glowing outside my darkened windows, beckoning me to test out my dream? Don’t know and didn’t look—just got myself back under the covers where I tried really hard not to think of those rabies shots while praying my next dreams would be raccoon-free—which I think they were.

If I keep this kind of thinking up, I’ll be screaming if someone asks me to watch Pocahontas. Sadly, it is no secret that the power of suggestion works a little bit too easily for me. For this reason, I no longer watch the news and horror movies. And now, Disney, it seems.

If you want me, I’ll just be hiding under my blankets.

(c) 2015 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2015 Christiana Lambert

All this dog walking we’ve been doing lately is a great way to slow down and really see the neighborhood where we live. When my daughter and I first started walking our little pack of three, her puppy, Patches, garnered much of our attention. Not sure how often I really noticed the surroundings. But now that he’s about to turn five months’ old, we’re all settling into routines. That leaves more time for us to pay attention to more than just the dogs.

We tend to amble around without a pattern, especially to keep the puppy from thinking he knows where we are going. Why should he be any different than we are? Even if we choose to walk the dogs to a specific place in order to complete an errand, we don’t often choose the same path. We set off on an “expotition”—in the words of Winnie the Pooh and friends.

I love living in an older neighborhood laid out in a grid. Every block as well as every house on that block is different. Not only that but properties range from very well kept-up to, well, not kept-up at all. That’s just the potluck of living in a town developed one house or a few at a time, mostly before most people thought about master planning communities. If you know anything about me, you know I think potluck=you take what you get—and that’s most often a good thing.

Each walk we take leads us to discover another house that surprises us in some way—a bold color combination, a unique original style, or a creative response to adding space to a home built before most homeowners expected more than 1,000 square feet to satisfy their needs. People can mock our town as a “hood” all they want, but some real jewels add sparkle to the neighborhoods, either in traditional ways or “would have never thought of that” ways.

Part of why walking around these spaces feels like home to me is because so many of my nearby streets remind me of the small town where I often explored streets on foot and/or wheels or the one where I did so with my cousins when I visited my grandparents. Those were streets where real people lived and where putting on airs and “keeping up with the Joneses” was the stuff of seeing who could get wet laundry out to dry on the line earliest and whose flowers and produce might do best at the county fair. These were not homes where people thought spending money in showy ways was clever, but rather that thrifty living and taking a creative—and wise—approach to making do was how the clever amongst them had survived the Great Depression.

Most people who live in the homes in my town either do not have the means to spend in big ways or still believe in the value of a dollar taught to us by previous generations. We choose to live here in this old school place with its old school values because we want to do so—even if that means putting up with not everything around us being just so.

And during these now-hot days of August, I especially appreciate the opportunity to drink in the kind of growth that comes from my neighbors’ diligent attention to tending their colorful flowers. At the same time, I also notice the kind of growth that comes from ignoring weeds—something that will eventually be handled through encounters with city code enforcement officials.

Potluck—that’s what we get here, without the tightly held parameters of HOA control and without the sameness of master planning. These daily walks of late remind me just how much the ordinary as well as extraordinary that surrounds me and my humble abode satisfies my hunger for beauty. Not every dish is pleasing, but the overwhelming bounty and variety at the table provide just the sustenance I need to fill me up.

I’m so in each moment these days that it feels a little bit unnerving. All those thoughts that usually overrun my head have gone a bit silent. Even with all the divisive news of recent weeks, I have my strong opinions but not so much that I have big words I can follow down the rabbit holes. Don’t know whether to try to stir up my thoughts on my own or to take this fallow period as a time of rest and underground growth.

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert


So my moments are often filled with activities such as dog walks—lots of dog walks since our daughter got her puppy about five weeks ago. Of course, if we’re available when she is walking her puppy, we ought to walk our own dogs, right? Walk we do—this street and that street—serpentine if you will to keep that puppy from thinking he’s in charge and knows where we are going. I see raindrops on blooms, flowers gone bold in this oddly wet growing season, new paint colors on houses, as well as nighttime light from porches and the bluish glow coming from large screens inside.

What is different about those walks from when we walked our dogs before is that we no longer walk in partial anonymity. The puppy draws attention to our little group—despite having lived in our neighborhood for decades, we are meeting people old and new as never before. Perhaps the constant human connection and conversations ground me more into the here and now than previously when I so often could escape into my head?

Beyond walking dogs, most days we also visit my husband’s mother as she rehabilitates from a fracture that led to a partial hip replacement. The puppy comes, too—with or without our daughter—since he is one of the few bright spots in the sameness of my mother-in-law’s days where she is a little too in the moment. The little superstar works her into thinking about what’s good about being able to sit still with a puppy at your side. And on his way in and out of the residence, he brings smiles to staff, other residents, and visitors alike. Although he is an amateur at therapy, he is an expert at causing people to pause.

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

Life is change—whether it’s a daughter finishing college and trying to find her way or a long-lived person encountering a body that no longer does as she bids or a society debating whether or not to keep traditions. Maybe at times of great change what we most need is a pause.

Although my mind is not much used to pausing, perhaps this little break is just what it needs to figure out what comes next. What better than a puppy (and its paws) to make play from a pause button?

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

“Puppy, puppy, puppy”—that’s what my husband Sherman used to say to me when I was waiting for my puppy to get old enough to come home to live with us. I had puppy fever bad. As an adult I had never had a puppy right from its early weeks away from its mama. Not too long after my own mama died in a pretty horrible way, so did my dog. I’d had it with old age and illness. I needed youth to renew me—or at least that’s how it felt.

Now that four years have passed since our puppy came to us, I still know that getting a puppy was what most helped me through the healing days. Yes, taking care of that puppy and raising him was hard and took a lot of energy, but loving him put my focus on growth and rebirth—and fun and joy.

Nothing like being around a puppy for helping you to see that the world is pretty exciting—even if you don’t quite agree with the puppy on what exactly is so exciting. Morning! Breakfast! People! Grass! Sticks!

So here we are with a puppy in our home again, but it isn’t really ours. We’re not up with it in the night or cleaning up most of the messes—unless we offer to be on puppy duty. Yes, our daughter just graduated from college but she’s been waiting over six years to get her own dog. This is no post-graduate whim for her.

To everyone who thinks it’s crazy to get a puppy when you’re looking for that first career job and hoping to move out on your own (again), I just have to say that the healing power of puppies can be worth a lot of the cost (time and money) involved. It’s a big transition to finish school and come home again, but now she has bigger motivation for moving on to what comes next.

The puppy has her keeping a daily schedule and requires her to plan ahead for how she’s going to complete her obligations. She is taking two computer skill-based classes at the community college to round out her abilities and has to figure out how to get that work done on deadline without the puppy eating up our house or doing unsafe things. She borrowed a pen so that we could all work on getting her moved back in—not an easy task when someone’s been living in an apartment for four years—and she could start on her class work. The puppy’s own pen should arrive any day, even if he hasn’t yet demonstrated any affection yet for not being the center of attention.

She is also training him to use a crate and taking him on frequent walks to prepare him for the likely day he becomes an apartment-dweller. She also sees how good it is to be able to work him through his often noisy protests to boundaries now while she doesn’t yet have neighbors that live just a wall away.

The puppy is in his own way training her to develop a routine while filling her heart during these early days when her former social structure has so recently ended. Nothing like the full-out run of the little tyke as he races to see her when she comes home from her evening class.

The first week with a puppy here again has been chaotic but rewarding. He is a quick little learner, especially thanks to our daughter’s commitment to creating consistent boundaries—despite how adorable he is and despite how exhausting every waking (and interrupted sleeping!) minute is. She is in this for the long term—and it shows.

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

The puppy, puppy, puppy has come to stay at our house and I think he will likely turn out to be what inspires her to figure out just what comes next in her post-grad journey. She has dog food to buy—and someone who already knows she won’t let him down, even if he’s not going to like her spending less time with him.

For some of us, when life gets hard, we get a puppy—and somehow everything else seems easier.

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

My dogs have watched the old morning glory vine with fascination, ever since they figured out the sounds and smells they detected come from birds—clever birds that hid the nest behind a tangle of old vines. Even I can’t see any birds if I look from the side closest to the door.

Each year, at least one pair of finches graces our lawn with songs from the clothesline or trellis or wires strung above our yard, although some years we never discover where they build their nests. Most of the years they choose well, although there have been a few disasters, such as the time they built a nest on loose wood that moved with the winds or low in a trellis that our former English Springer Spaniel could head butt.

The current two spaniels normally let birds flit and flutter around the yard unimpeded, but the constant sounds coming from that hidden nest seem just too tempting for them to ignore. Sam stands on two paws, sniffing with delight in the general direction, while Furgus settles in the grass watching.

I am not comfortable with supporting this habit—circle of life or not. My dogs have a healthy diet of quality (read: expensive) prepared food and also con us out of table scraps from time to time. Their health does not depend upon eating little birds. Any time they get too obsessed and I can’t distract them from their subjects of interest, I bring them in.

Today, as I looked out the window (currently screen-less in order to aid in our own bird-watching views) I saw both Mr. and Mrs. Finch hovering, almost hummingbird-like around the nest. Usually they take turns visiting and feeding their squeaky little offspring. One would dance toward the nest and fly back and then the other would swoop in. But today, little flutters of wings answered in response from the nest.

Suddenly I realized those formerly fuzzy-headed and barely covered little birds, now seem feathered-out, so to speak. It’s almost time. Wow, that was quick. Wasn’t it just one of the most recent cold snaps (with snow!) when they broke out of their shells? These little finches seem destined to take the most important steps (flights) of their journeys during Colorado’s flakiest spring weather days.

On this cool and rainy morning, those birds are getting ready to fly away from the nest.

What a metaphor the finch babies give me this day when we will soon attend our daughter’s solo art exhibit opening. Next week she graduates from college, but this week she shares a tangible view into the work from her hands, mind, and heart. Our baby is getting ready to fly and we are so proud of not only how well she has developed and strengthened the talent with which she seems to have been born, but also how she persevered through many dark and stormy days—and yet still is seeking flight—just like the finch babies outside on our porch.

No wonder the songs of Mr. and Mrs. Finch resonate outside my window and fill the yard with such joyful noise.

Though our yard hosts hazards such as spaniels and the occasional visiting cat or hawk, the Finches still sing with the joy of what comes next. The babies in the nest are safer from outside threats, but if they stayed, they would soon wither from lack of movement—and they’d never know what it’s like to soar—a glorious feeling despite all the risks.

Fly, little birdies, fly—the world is waiting for you, too, to fill your surroundings with your own joyful noises.

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

What a treat today has been—nothing like enjoying 71 degrees at the end of January, especially, if like me, you get to get outside and go to the beloved spot that is Washington Park. We had similar weather yesterday so I knew to bring warm weather clothes for my post-errand run. I also knew to expect pretty much everyone and his/her dog to come play in the park—which they did. My poor dogs, home jumping around in our snow-melt mud puddles, have no idea what else they missed. For one thing, they missed seeing a Bald Eagle sitting majestically at the top of a tree, located just perfectly in front of a view of snow-covered mountaintops.

That’s the beauty of going the pace I go these days—I have a chance to smell the roses or—in today’s case—to look up and see the eagle. Didn’t take me too long to see the people craning their heads toward a tree while holding out their cell phones. I debated stopping, but decided just experiencing my glimpse of the eagle was enough. Of course, that didn’t stop me from ending my run over by that tree and trying for another look. No such luck, but once was enough.

My husband Sherman and I have spent the last few Thursday evenings running in the same location since it’s one place with good lighting and surfaces where most of the snow and ice melt quickly. Those recent nighttime experiences could not be more different from running out there today with all of Denver. Instead, the park is really quiet. The more adventurous souls are running on the dirt path (or more often, it’s a path hard packed in snow) using their headlamps—or nothing—to spot out the more treacherous surfaces. Our ability to run at all—slow as it is—is too hard-fought for us to take further risks with our bodies—which is why we stay on the better lighted roads that wind around the park.

We also do bring our dogs when we run together. For them, it’s no different if the thermometer reads 70 degrees or 10, or if the ground’s icy, dry, muddy, or all of the above—as long as they get to go.

Just looking around the dogs at the park—either ours in the quiet evenings or the ones I see out and about in the daytime—reminds me that it’s really about the “get to” not the “got to”—and, more than that, it’s about being in the moment. Dogs aren’t at the park thinking about taking a nap or hanging out on the couch nor are they worrying about when dinner will be—or even if they’re going to pay for going a little too far. They’re just running or walking. For some it’s all about the “go” and for others there’s the go and the geese and the people and the other dogs and the smells—oh my.

Oh my indeed. Love it in the cold and dark, but there’s no treat like getting out in the warmth and sunshine right smack dab in the middle of the winter. Whenever my steps feel hard-earned, may I remember that if I get to go, I’m doing OK. Just ask any dog—it really is all about the go.

Trina and Scott with Whiskers, the dog we had after Dee Dee.

Trina and Scott with Whiskers, the dog we had after Dee Dee.

Letting a dog go never gets easier, no matter how many dogs you’ve had cross the Rainbow Bridge in your life.

My in-laws had to say goodbye to another dog today. Today I realized that might be especially hard for them not just because she was their dog, but also because they have gone through this so many times before.

As I was thinking about that, then I realized what day it was and burst into tears for my not-quite-five-year-old self. May Day 1967 was my unwilling initiation into the dog loss club.

Oh, Dee Dee wasn’t an elderly dog—which is something altogether since in those situations we have so many years to connect with our dogs and grow to love them more each year we share.

No, she was my first dog, the one who came to me on my fourth birthday, so small she fit into a grape basket. I never imagined she wouldn’t grow old as I grew up.

May Days in small-town-Nebraska were festival days when kids took their handmade paper baskets, filled them with goodies, and distributed those baskets to the doors of the homes where their friends lived. But the wind and our typical unlocked front door conspired to turn our joy into sorrow. As a family opened our door to protect the gifts they had brought us, out ran our little girl, straight toward the wheels of a vehicle being driven down our normally quiet street.

Not sure if seeing that all happen made it much worse or not. After all, I got that she was really, really gone. Even if I didn’t really understand death, I understood what I witnessed.

She is just the first of the names of my “soft and warm and fuzzy” loved ones written on my heart. Dee Dee, Whiskers, Duncan, Chelsea, Fordham, Abel.

And those are just the names of those who have lived with me over the years. I also have not forgotten many of those dogs who stole the hearts of those humans I also have known and loved.

I definitely get that my in-laws are really, really hurting, too. That’s why I’m bringing my mother-in-law flowers tonight. I can’t fix her pain, but I understand it, although maybe not as well as I will understand when I reach her age.

And, thus, I’m mostly leaving you with pictures. Well, other than of relaxing activities such as my delicious nap today and my soak in the tub—I will spare you those images. Thank goodness for small favors, right?

Christiana petting giraffes on our trip to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

Christiana petting giraffes on our trip to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

Running.

Running.

Road trips.

Road trips.

Reading.

Reading.

Singing in church.  (c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

Singing in church.
(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

Walking dogs.

Walking dogs.

Now, off to grab 40 winks–or more.

(c) 1999 Trina Lambert

(c) 1999 Trina Lambert

Some stories you don’t want to tell because you wish they hadn’t happened. But sometimes you must if you want to move on from the memory—especially when the trauma is even harder for those around you.

Not everything that happened on our trip to Oklahoma was joyful. That’s because there’s nothing quite like a now grown-up boy or girl losing the canine companion from the better days of childhood. How many of us did not really understand our childhood was gone forever until that first or second pet we had known from its first years was gone? For me, at least I had the joy of knowing my dog died mid-pant, a big dog grin on his aging face. My kids, however, had to be part of that devastating decision of when to say goodbye. But, turns out, there are even worse ways to lose your old companion.

When we arrived in Oklahoma for my nephew’s wedding to Mona, nothing surprised me more than that Chris’ old dog (who had appeared not long from crossing the Rainbow Bridge when we last saw him in May 2012) was still on this earth. However, Time had not been kind to him lately. But somehow this old guy still wanted to spend time with the family, even putting up graciously with the four young grandchildren who had moved into my brother’s home in the past year. Even on his last night in the house, he took his now crippled body and moved around happily, asking for a pet from each of us. And, when he started barking mid-night, I knew enough to let him out so he could take care of his failing bladder and/or kidney. I can only assume he fell back asleep as I did after I let him in.

Smoky spent his days outside, so he’d already gone out for the day by the time I made it out of bed. The kids went to school and/or their great-grandma’s house so we adults could spend all day working on wedding preparations—without any unsolicited help. This windy, windy Oklahoma day was supposed to be the one that brought in the first hard frost of the season. The soon-to-be bride and groom joined us all for dinner before going back to their own home. Thankfully, the wind had finally died down. The three oldest boys asleep and Sherman doing a great job of having the youngest almost asleep, we relaxed at the end of a long day.

That’s when we realized we had heard nothing from Smoky—a dog who would not be ignored in the evenings. Distracted by our busyness, we hadn’t even thought about the absence of barking. My sister-in-law Lori and I looked at each other, knowing this would not be the best week for the inevitable to happen. My brother Scott and I jumped up to look for him outside, while Sherman and Lori finished getting little David to bed.

Bright moonbeams stretched across the yard, but Scott, ever the gardener, has all sorts of bushes and tall grasses planted in his yard. Plus, that first frost was still a few hours from destroying the annuals, so many shadowy areas remained untouched by light. Scott called, but no answer came. We saw no dog—in fact, nothing moved anywhere as we searched the edges of the vegetation on that still night. And we both agreed that the dog was in no condition to scoot under the fencing or out a gate. On our rounds, Scott pointed out the above ground swimming pool cover—which had been secured for the season just two days earlier—had come undone in the day’s winds.

While Scott ran inside to see if he could find one flashlight that his grandchildren had yet to dismantle, Lori joined me in the deepening cold.

That’s when we saw the gate to the pool steps lying flat. In no time I had climbed those stairs to look beyond where the cover floated. Something else was definitely in the water, but I didn’t want to believe it could be him, even though the shape was the right size and the coloring mottled in a familiar pattern. I cried out but stepped back.

Surely I was wrong. Even with her bad knee, Lori clambered up, too. But it took Sherman’s arrival for someone to act bravely enough to reach in for him.

After that I spent a few hysterical minutes hyperventilating—I think I made the same sounds I remember making when I was blindsided by a car striking my car door 25 years ago. No little/big boy’s dog should end his long life this way, but especially not the dog of someone preparing for the joy of his wedding day.

I don’t remember what else the four of us did or said in the chaos of that shocking moment, but it took us awhile to focus enough to figure out what to do next, but first Lori had to call Chris to break the news—which was not unexpected except for the method or timing. Thank goodness he had Mona at his side.

The guys prepared Smoky for his final ride to the vet and Lori got her son Cody to agree to take him in the next morning, everyone taking great care to shield the little boys from seeing their old pal. The boys awoke to the news of Smoky’s demise but not the how.

And that’s the story I never wanted to tell—yet it was all too improbable and too important not to tell.

Even now the how makes no sense. He hardly had the strength to climb a step let alone to knock down a strongly secured barrier in order to take his stairway to heaven. He was done, just done with it all, and ready—apparently—to leap onto that Rainbow Bridge and grow young again. Smoky—you were a good and faithful companion to Chris and the rest of the family—long may you run.

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(c) 2009, Christiana Lambert