Monday, January 30, 2012

The Dog Always Dies at the End

Kevin Coolidge

The Dog Always Dies at the End

“The one best place to bury a good dog is in the heart of his master.”Ben Hur Lampman

Wind and cold slap my cheeks, and makes a hard job harder. As my shovel bites into the frozen ground, I pause and wonder if it’s the right tool for the job. I don’t know where my pick is, and I don’t know why it never gets easier to bury a dog. He was a good dog, but I’ve never buried a bad dog.

He loved the fields and the searing heat of the wood stove. He loved to dig up my rose bushes, and chase the neighbor’s cat. He cost me a lot of money when a car hit him, but I never regretted a single penny. He was my buddy, my friend. I never wanted to take that last dreaded trip to the vet, but I didn’t have the heart to see him suffer. I never wanted to bury another dog, and damn if this might just be my last.

The love and loyalty of a good dog is a special gift, and losing a cherished pet is never easy, but perhaps the hardest part is explaining that death to a child. It’s part of life, and a fact, but that doesn’t make it easy. It can, however, be done well, and a book that does that is Snort’s Special Gift by Suzann Yue, beautifully illustrated by Lin Wang.

In this hardcover children’s book, Snort doesn’t pay fetch anymore. Snort is sick and in a lot of pain. It’s time to take Snort to the veterinarian and help take the aches and pains away. Savy, a little girl, doesn’t want Snort to go. She is very sad and will miss Snort, but her father explains that her memory will live forever in her heart.

Several days after Snort is gone, Savy’s father suggests that the family plant a tree in Snort’s memory. Everyone works together to plant the tree and remember special memories of Snort.

When Savy’s teacher asks the class to write a story about someone special in their life, Savy chooses to write about Snort. Sitting by Snort’s special tree, she writes of the important things she learned from Snort—such as patience, love, and loyalty.

That Christmas, Savy found a lost puppy wandering around Snort’s special tree. Her family decided to give the puppy a loving home. She named the puppy Angel, because she felt the sweet puppy was a gift from Snort. She knew that Angel would teach her special lessons too.

It’s growing dark. I carefully place the stone to mark the grave, though I doubt I can forget. It’s under his favorite tree overlooking the field where he would chase rabbits that he seldom caught. It is where he would nap in the heat of a summer’s day and the tree that the neighbor’s cat still climbs. I’m going to miss that dog, but maybe there’s still room in my heart for another loyal friend…

Dogs, cats, gerbils…the best place to bury a pet is in your heart. As long as you have a special memory, it never really has to be goodbye.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Parting the Veil

Kevin Coolidge

“Reality is what doesn’t go away when we stop believing in it.” Phillip K. Dick

Stories are stones. Stories form the foundations of religions, countries, and families. Stories can connect us, help us learn and retain information, create understanding and cement friendship between cultures. I just love a good story, but stories can also build walls, cast shadows, divide humanity, and turn neighbors into enemies. I don’t always believe everything I read, and neither should you.

One man who encourages rational and scientific thought is Guy P. Harrison, author of 50 Popular Beliefs That People Think Are True. In his introduction, he writes that, “We all believe silly things. What matters is how silly and how many.” Being a little more skeptical could help us lead safer, happier, and more productive lives.

Really? By being skeptical? But aren’t skeptics cynical and negative people lacking faith and closed to the possibility of miracles? Skepticism is really just trying to think clearly. It’s making an effort to sort out lies and misperceptions. What’s negative about that? It’s a willingness to ask those hard-to-ask questions. To seek answers based on evidence and logic, rather than on hopes and dreams.

Believing is easy and can be a lot of fun. I love the idea of Sasquatch running through the woods. I want to believe there are creatures that are still wild, untamed, and undiscovered. New species are discovered all the time. Maybe there really is a giant, hairy ape that has constantly eluded capture and discovery, but why isn’t there any real evidence? There are only poor quality photos, inconclusive hair samples and molds of footprints. Footprints have been faked so many times and by so many people, that they no longer have any credibility. My wanting to believe in Bigfoot doesn’t make it true.

Being skeptical is hard and sometimes a harsh truth. I wish the Holocaust never happened. It was more than just one of history’s many bloodbaths. It was more than attempted genocide. It was the industrialization of murder, and according to Holocaust deniers, it never happened. If almost six million Jews were not killed, where did all those people go?

‘It is all a hoax perpetrated by Jews for political and economic gain, and mainstream historians are part of the fraud,’ deniers claim. Hitler wasn’t trying to eliminate Jews? All those dead bodies never piled up in pits? Are they serious? I don’t want to believe that people could do that to innocent people, but the evidence is overwhelming.

Instead of being scared, shouldn’t we strive to educate ourselves? Shouldn’t we question why television news devotes a third of air time to crime while topics such as education is given less than 2 percent? Consider the source. Question everything. Demand evidence.
It’s an amazing and beautiful universe we live in, and you can still believe that, and still try to understand it…

The Devil’s triangle? Or Heaven’s gate? Email me at and let me know. Visit and let us know your favorite column of 2011. Looking for a great children’s book? Check out “Hobo Finds A Home” about a kitten who decided to think for himself and explore the world, written by Hobo the cat. Don’t be skeptical, just read it and see…