This morning I adopted the last of the ten puppies left beside the highway into Prescott from the South. Prescott is off the Interstates, and all but that that main road into town narrow to two lanes past the gates of the Shire. Ten puppies beside the highway, in a box. They came to us like those priests of old who would set sail without rudder or compass to explore the strength of their faith and intention.

The energy around this puppy seeped into the conversation because a woman held something in her arms and wanted to nourish it. Isn't that the way things do begin? "It just snuggled in my arms, and it was the most mellow puppy. And then it began to cry a little and Nancy said, 'Maybe it needs to pee,' so we took it outside and it did. What a smart little puppy."

She was describing one of this ship of ten motherless children, naturally. One of her co-workers adopted him for her son, and he reportedly has coloring like an Australian shepherd. The next day, Linda said, "That is the smartest little puppy. The only time it has peed in the house was when she took it to her ex-husband's house. Such a smart dog."

By this time it did not escape me that she was taken with the idea of having a puppy. Her intuition is completely trustworthy, so when I got the last detail filled in .... here is the detail:

"There were ten of them, and there's just one more left. It's a male."

... I went by the Humane Society yesterday and asked about this puppy. They said there was no such puppy on the premises. "It's not the Humane Society," Linda said. "The pound."

She told me that as I was driving her back to the office yesterday, following lunch on the patio at the Dinner Bell Cafe. I mention it deliberately because if you are in this town and want good food and nice atmosphere and terrific staff, try it. You won't be disappointed unless you think you can pay with a credit card. The reason they are in such a good mood and turn out such great food is they take cash.

I was hearing her but I was thinking of something else. "I guess if you really wanted it you would have gone and got it by now," I said, referring to the puppy of course. She didn't say anything but I could hear her internal dialogue ringing in my inner ear, "Yea, during my spare time I guess."

She has had no spare time lately.

"Chocolate," I said out loud.

"Is that the name of the puppy?" she asked.

I said, "You were talking about getting new carpet. I like dark chocolate brown."

But I knew there were two lines of compatible logic intersecting (getting a puppy and getting new carpet), and that Chocolate might be the name of the puppy. Of course the puppy is chocolate brown, with some white speckled with the brown. He looks like he might be part pointer, maybe. "Must have been a wild night," I and the guy at the pound agreed when trying to figure out what mix he is.

I didn't have any cash and they don't take credit cards at the pound, so I called Linda to come over to the pound and bring me forty bucks. "I don't know if I want to have him neutered," I said.

"There's no choice," she said. "When you get them from the pound it's required." She laughed. "Don't worry" she said, "I'll take care of it." The laugh chilled my blood a little bit.

When I got him home I was jumping around on all fours, playing with him and chattering away at him when I suddenly realized how much I needed to do that. I had become too saddened, over time, by a sense of loss. And it is only by the breaking of the barrier between adult and child that the wholeness is remembered. It split my heart open like a hot knife through butter.

"Chocolito," I said. I heard chocolate in the diminutive which Bianca would always give things that are alive, to make them small enough to hold and nourish. (Carl becomes Carlito, Dracula becomes Draculito). It is only when I find this unprotected space in myself, as when I am playing with a puppy abandoned beside the highway, that I can love all the people in my life without fear of some consequences.

And with this feeling comes another feeling. It is the feeling that the gift that is in the heart, and which we want to give to babies and puppies and all those creatures who are new to the world, is enthusiasm to live. There is food, here, have some. You want to chew? Here is a pair of shoes. Richard gave them to me and I will give them to you. You want to play, Chocolito? Let's play.

There is something hopeful in a new puppy. When my dad got Sasha, a black German Shepherd, it was a renewal of his will to keep going, though he'd had two bad heart attacks and some other troubles. He has beneath him a will to live.

Somebody put it there, when he was a puppy. He probably forgot. We all probably do, because the pain of separation blocks it, and few want to travel through that pain in order to reach the wholeness that is hidden behind it. "Be as a little child."

I struggle on. I have had dreams lately in which I was angry with Bianca. But it is a part of myself I am having trouble with, a part that looks like her in my dreams. It is an energy of a certain type. Now I am having to incorporate it back into myself, and this is difficult. The hardest part of the shadow to accept is not the awful, embarrassing things. We are all strong enough to accept horrible things about ourselves.

No ... it's the gold that comes up last ... that's the hardest part to believe, and thus to allow back in.

Sometimes it takes a puppy to help you along with that.

Posted: Fri - August 20, 2004 at 02:39 PM