Apart from the good conversations, music and pool party, I enjoyed spending time with Sarah’s recent addition to the family, Chloe.  The smallish basset-hound pup with soulful eyes and a heart-shaped spot on her rump wanted badly to befriend our beagle, but Celli didn’t understand why the puppy was so interested and continually vocalized her intolerance.  Instead, Chloe found friends in the two-legged visitors and was happy to welcome the girls.  

It was evident at once there was something special about Chloe.  For a small dog, she appeared wise and exuded unconditional love even on the unsuspecting beagle-miser.  (Poor Celli who tried, but could never outrun the tireless floppy-eared, gigantic pawed outlaw of the backyard).  

Sarah had asked that I spend some time with Chloe to see whether she could become an indoor dog.  And Chloe showed her intellect immediately learning to sit and finally taking only visual cues to get off the couch when asked.  The first night we were in Nashville, I was working primarily on seeing whether a house filled with people would be too much for such an excitable animal.  We were having some success, but Chloe had not yet asked to go out.  Rather, if we so much as approached the door, she would go “boneless” legs sprawled to either side of her body, ears spilled out over the floor until you had no choice but to lift her off the ground and carry her out.  

Something changed that night and for the first time, she approached the door on her own and looked back asking to go out.  Happily, I opened the door and on her own, the brown and white basset scampered onto the porch.  Instead of running to the yard, she turned and faced me and then faced the yard again.  She was asking me to follow.  

I should mention here that my only association with basset hounds has been through Lauren.  Lauren asked for a basset puppy when she was first diagnosed with NHL.  The morning she passed, it was her puppy who alerted the family in time for them to say their good-byes.  And the puppy ran out into the road and was struck by a car only weeks following her passing as if still grieving.  So when I first met Chloe, I remembered this story and I knew immediately why Lauren had chosen her basset.  

Dew was just forming on the cool grass.  I had not walked barefoot since Traverse City, and it felt reminiscent of home.  Chloe moved forward, but stopped and looked back to make sure I was following.  Somewhere in the middle of the yard she plopped down and looked over her shoulder, her long ears framing a very serious face.  She said plainly, Sit with me.

I sat down beside Chloe and hugged my legs to my chest watching the little dog beside me with intent overcome with the feeling I was being shown something.  Suddenly Chloe pointed her nose up into the night air – she was looking straight up at the sky.  My gaze followed hers until I saw the sea of stars enveloped in stillness.  My heart swelled.  In the city, I am only able to see the brightest few stars able to penetrate the artificial lights of the city-scape.  That night, on the outskirts of another city, beside a soulful puppy and Lauren’s ghost, I realized I had nearly let myself forget.  Fortunately for me, as so often happens, the lesson was larger than teaching a dog how to sit.  Instead a dog helped me find majesty in something so simple as the midnight sky.

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