Posted by: jamesthethickheaded | February 13, 2009

From Blogless to Dogless and Back


Blogless isn’t exactly a variant on Dogless… though perhaps its close. I’ve been dogless… a state you can’t visit until you have a dog. .. and then you don’t. The first condition makes you Dogful, and the second… Dogless. Doglessness is a condition of longing for a condition of Dogfulness that no longer exists. Either you “get over it”, or you “get on with it”. The first solution translates into satisfaction with the change of state, while the other seeks a restoration… a thing that cannot be had for the moment gone remains, and the moment sought is never found: There is no replacement of one WITH another… only transition from one TO another.

When a dog becomes part of your life and your family in ways you don’t even fathom until it dies… and leaves you Dogless…. it will never be the same Dogfulness that you knew before. That first dog comes with no pre-conceptions… your transition from owner, to trainer, to trained… seems to go without your even noticing how much you’ve learned and how much your dog remains in control. You forget what it was like to conform two lives together… and simply think you’ll restore the same life to your side. But that’s just not the case. No two animals are the same, nor are you the same. You think you’ve been steeled, but in fact your heart has softened. And so round two’s “preconceptions” meet with “nothing like”… and it’s a whole new transition, a whole new learning, and restoration that may see a new peace but not the same. Maybe it will be “better”; more likely it will only be different… but a partnership nevertheless,  and an effort of joining two lives…and an ambition lives at least another day. It is a faith of sorts… warts and all… and lack of sleep… but there you have it.

During that Doglessness… through the pain that you’ll remember, you’ll  recall those who understood what you didn’t… until you crossed the bar yourself. And it is odd how readily we can discuss the death of our pets, our fourlegged partners… with each other in ways we cannot or will not even begin to do with respect to those of our two-legged losses. For what seems an intrusion into a personal grief is somehow so easily shared as it concerns animals that maybe we ought to know better.. maybe we ought to understand how we can transfer our learning to ourselves, our families, and friends. But we don’t.

Surely people aren’t animals. And with animals, we’re already far more accustomed to discussing their lives, their play, their animal instincts and behaviors and the whole of our life with them – we do all of this as we would never dream of doing when it comes to our two-legged partners. The dispassion and detachment, the humor and yet earnestness we can seem to find in discussing our pets… and even how this seems to make sense… just seem inappropriate to a similar discussion of another person.

Maybe it’s the experience of looking on at the dog park in this… where we watch a process we don’t fully understand and readily admit our limits, and at the same time  are easily helped by others… this all seems so natural there on the side of the hill where these admissions lead to  learning, sharing, and reform of our lives. All these virtues…  we seem to gain almost effortlessly as we gently… even benevolently look across to our subjects frolicing nearby. There is little judgment… and more resolve, more recognition of the goodness of exercising and exorcising these small demons… and fellowship among each other bound in a common struggle. How like it seems to the playground, the nursing home, and so many other settings… and yet so distant.

And the thought occurs that perhaps this isn’t all that far from how we come to Church, how we, too, are seen by our Heavenly Father, the Son and Holy Spirit, by the great cloud of witnesses… and all the like…. even as we, too, are called as well to stand with them aside that hill, to see ourselves, and come to that moment of discussion, awareness, repentance, confession and reform. Another phase in our training; another day; and another place.  And we won’t just be dogful or joyful, but blogful again as well. It’s just what it is.


  1. James, I am now thoroughly convinced you *need* to write a book full of wonderful reflections like this one.

  2. Having been Dogless several times, and twice buried long time dogs in the last couple years, and having buried a father in law who in a sense was a stray that we took in and had to figure out how to play with in our “park”…it would be wonderful if we were all “natural”, ie., able to live in the fullness of the image of Christ, and just “be” with each other guided by holy instincts.
    Great post. Thanks for the memories.

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