By Ken Sheetz
It is 1960, Bay View Wisconsin. Our fuzzy miniature grey Poodle named Lacy, licks 8-year-old me, giving me love like a crazy. Lacy already has some tumors. She dies sadly, years later, taking on the cancer of our family. A poodle Jesus. But for now I am basking in her very lively lick kisses. I can’t contain my little boy giggles and shout, “Lacy loves me!”
A dear relative, who will remain anonymous, one that never likes seeing me happy, like happiness is something to fear, says clucking their tongue disapprovingly, “Ken, Ken, Ken. You think that dog licking is love?”
“Um, yeah,” I say already dreading the meanness that I know is coming.
My dear relative grins, like they are addressing the village idiot, and looms near my little face, their breath wreaking of cigarette smoke, and says dryly, “Wrong, Kenny boy. Dogs just lick people for the salt on their skin.”
“Feels like love to me!” I say, tears welling. Lacy feels the tension growing in me and tries to lick away my pain.
My dear relative smells my pain and laughs crazily as they deliver their words like a death blow, “Love? From a poodle? Ha! Animals don’t have souls, so they don’t love, except salt. Dogs love salt! Ha ha ha!”
Eight-year-old me has no words. The dear relative sickly relishes the shock on my little boy face. I begin to shake with sorrow and rage at what’s been stolen from me, the love of every animal on planet earth. A word knife is lodged deep in my heart. I shove Lacy off my lap and run bawling to my room to the taunting laughter of the dear relative.
Well, it’s 2014 now. I am a lot wiser. I call bullshit, dear relative. I feel sorry you could not feel love and found it needed to shut my heart like yours. For decades you succeeded. Today I am grown now, awakened and grown wise in the power of love.
So in today’s meditation I send you, dear relative, loving Lacy doggie licks. Lick, lick, lick. Back across time and space, straight to your frozen heart. I see the licking love of our tormented brave family dog Lacy upon your heart. She is a brave furry little hero who your inner guardians are helpless against as she scoots between their legs, effortlessly dodging swords.
You are stunned, dear relative. Penetrated to your frozen core as Lacy runs about your ice caked heart. The poodle darts so fast her grey fur ignites with the flame of love. Barking and licking, she flies so fast she is a streak of fiery love. Crack! The ice about your heart is helpless as the polar ice caps today’s neglect of humanity is wreaking our world. Your heart thaws rapidly. Spring dawns in your wintery soul.
Your hateful side is stranded on a iceberg in an azure ocean. You are a red polar bear trapped by Lacy’s love. The iceberg becomes too small and you fall, roaring the last of your hatred as a new inner ocean of Lacy’s bliss and love drowns the last of your bitterness.
Tugged to safely to shore by the impossibly strong tiny soggy poodle, dear relative, you stagger to your feet on the beach of love, new color in your face. Lacy, job happily done, barks good-bye and zooms back into to her tortured 1960 body and returns to licking the eight-year-old me and you say in wonder…
“I am so sorry, Kenneth. Forgive me. Yes, doggies love salt on our skin, but I see now – oh how I see – that’s their reward for giving love so freely and selflessly!”
You run to join us on the couch, kissing me with love as Lacy licks us both.