Contemplative moment at home with Burnsie

In the spirit of this Memorial Day weekend I’m sharing once again the ‘memorial’ post I wrote last year marking the death of Great Scots Magazine’s own “Albie”, Grand Old-Soul of Las Golondrinas, who grew up in the magazine’s pages, and died at age 15. Memorial Day is for remembering our War Dead, of course, but I can be forgiven remembering in this place on this weekend my long-time friend, sojourner, and Soldier of the Heart, for all the strength in companionship she gave me.

Memorial Day Remembrance To An Old Friend

My world emptied radically in June of 2015. Albie, Matron of Las Golondrinas, died at age 15. Her final week she lost balance and use of her back legs and she refused to eat. Having reached a grand old age, she died peacefully in my arms at the Veterinarian’s office on Tuesday afternoon, June 2nd, 2015. She went as she once ran: quick as a Gazelle.

I can’t complain. Fifteen years together is a rare Scottish Terrier companionship gift. What momentous years and adventures we had together! Moving from the city to the country thirteen years ago, these Las Golondrinas years have been the adventure of discovering myself and Albie was Sojourner through it all. My short-legged Teacher of Merit! Great wee soul with soft eyes, companion of the heart, showing me at each step how to be one-of-a-kind and so become what I am.

Dust to dust before my eyes.

Wuss at end-games. ‘Fixer’ who unravels quickly when helpless to ‘fix it’. How can the Enemy faced so gamely in Mexico remain virile and aggressive these years while I grow old and weak?

Brute Anguish striking like a fist is Evergreen, while I, an old Cottonwood, break leafless, ever softer at my center.

Life’s slow-learner, I’m no Master of strategy against The Absolute, not even how to fake it.

So, my Friend, we face eclipse of the heart together, You dignified in your dying, I with crumbling Human heart.

Remember this Human whose heart you stole from Willie by soft eyes and Princess ways. Remember … but run FREE.

Go, Earthdog! A Cairn of your own.

Go-to-ground! Adventure awaits.


for Albie

Albie Obituary photoAlbie's grave

Quiet moment at home with Burnsie

If you missed it, the annual weekend Door County Scottie Rally at Baileys Harbor, Wisconsin, was this weekend just past. Scottie Crazies and their dogs from all over the country converge at Tom and Michele Bronsky’s for the annual celebration of Scottish Terrier companionship. There’s fellowship aplenty and seminars on Scottie health and training, reports on national Scottie health research, and some of the best auctions of hot Scottie collectibles in the country, all the proceeds from which go to Scottie Rescue and on-going breed health research.

Blogger with Scottie bronze statue donated to the Rainbow Memorial GardenThis year the Rally featured something new and special: the formal dedication of a newly built Scottie Rainbow Bridge Memorial Garden on site at the Bronsky’s wooded backyard. It’s not just for the Bronskys, who are active in Scottie Rescue and all things Scottish Terrier, but for the Scottie community to use as a dedicated centering place, for all who lose and revere much-loved Scotties.

For all who missed the on-site dedication I’m printing here the “Memorial Blessing” Michele Bronsky requested I write for the Door County Scottie Rally’s Rainbow Bridge Memorial Garden Opening Ceremony, May 20, 2016 . . . .

Baileys Harbor, Wisconsin, Scottish Terrier Rally
Rainbow Bridge Memorial Garden
May 20, 2016

Rudyard Kipling famously asked, “Why do we give our hearts to dogs to tear?”

Today, we who wear paw-printed hearts dedicate this place to the answer: we give our hearts to dogs to tear because we cannot do otherwise, we cannot do less, because union with man’s best friend– the Friend and the Union that change us forever — THAT union is reached only by crossing the bridge of vulnerability and paying the toll of an unguarded heart. What Kipling calls “tears” we own proudly as life branded by love, our quiet proof of profound communion with dogs who own our hearts.

So today, in this place, in the quiet of wild things and the beauty of Nature, we hallow in these woods a temple to hearts paw-printed by the gift of a good dog and the Bridge which takes us there.

The idea of a “Rainbow Bridge” is familiar to us: the imagery of a bridge connecting this life to the next, where Scotties who precede us in death wait each day for the sound of familiar footsteps crossing the bridge, ready to greet us.

But the “Rainbow Bridge” is more robust than a nod of faith toward an afterlife. It is a colorful and profound symbol of Life soulfully lived in the here and now. The Rainbow Bridge is that rite of passage connecting Man and Animal, spirit and matter, soul and body, ourselves and our Better Angel — I mean, the Rainbow Bridge is symbol of that remarkable phenomenon by which our dogs through their unconditional love make us softer, more compassionate, more generous and better Human Beings. Our dogs, living and dead, all dwell at The Bridge, each moment, every day, where they beckon to us to leave our burdens, our ambition, our insecurity, our troubles and pains; to leave behind all the daily grind which de-humanizes us, to cross innocently to places of the heart where Love is unconditional, where what matters is measured in carats of the heart, where Life is off the clock, and never taxed by worries and fear.

As Sojourners of The Paw-Printed Heart we dedicate this garden. As we planted in our soul and in the earth the life that went out of us in our dogs’ death, so we plant this symbolic Rainbow Bridge, like corn, so the brightness of what is Simple, Basic, and Real is born again in our conscience.

When despair for the world grows in us, may we find in this Memorial Garden which is dedicated to Life and Love and Loyalty, a still place, a quiet place, a habit of the heart worthy of the Angel our dogs see in us.

May we find in this place a Rainbow Bridge of the Heart to lead us to what is Simple, Basic, and Real.

Joseph Harvill, PhD, Founder of Great Scots Magazine