[A Life Well Lived] My Distant Sibling

[A Life Well Lived] My Distant Sibling

My Distant Sibling

My sister Maudie was born 11 years before I came onto this planet. She was the first child, and I was the last of five! By the time I managed to arrive here on Earth, she was already on the edge of being a teen. She had lived through much of her early formative years, and had developed into a responsible daughter — perhaps a bit bossy, if my other siblings are to be believed. 😊

By the time I started having keeper memories (around 7), Maudie was a young adult and ready to move off to college. She left home as I was just becoming aware of myself as an individual. So, I really did not know her much at all.  I only felt her as a presence in the family dynamics.

My earliest close memory of Maudie was her (first) marriage. She was very young — around 20 or so.  I very vividly remember her marriage to Mark at the chapel at Oklahoma City University, where she was attending college. I was wearing a suit that Mom had made for me (in gaudy if trendy colors.) And, it was quite the shindig. I recall the wedding itself was at a catholic church nearby (Mark was a catholic), but the reception was at the chapel? Like I said, I was quite young still, so my memories are a bit faded. One very clear memory I had was of my cousin Nancy Johns (on Mom’s side.) I had a HUGE crush on her! Of course, not only was she my cousin, but she was much older than me. But, still, I could not wait to dance with her!

Things could have easily continued along this path — Maudie and I distant relatives within the same nuclear family. Not friends, not sharing many experiences other than the occasional family gathering. We might never really had gotten to know each other.

However, fate intervened. I decided to go to Oklahoma City University for college, as both Maudie and Mona did. (To be honest, I had many great choices around the country, as I was a damn good student, but I really did not want to go that far from home.) As it happened, Maudie was still living in OKC, studying to be a medical doctor at the University of Oklahoma health campus. She became an anchor for me, especially in my early years at school — a presence of family. We went to the symphony, cooked meals together occasionally, even went to bars, once I was of age. (Turns out, Maudie did not share my unnaturally high tolerance to alcohol. 😊)

She was around for a good chunk of my undergraduate years. By the end of that overlap in Oklahoma City, she and I had become good friends. I learned to appreciate her strength and priority on family. And, I believe she learned to see my strengths (and weaknesses) as well.

We are not at all distant anymore! (I am so happy to say!)

The Universe is Not Wasteful

The Universe is Not Wasteful

The Universe is Not Wasteful!

The Universe is Not Wasteful
I have been thinking about transcendence and about consciousness lately.  What happens to the selves of the people around us after they die?  Do my loved ones that have passed on linger in some way?  When I feel the presence of my father (who first taught me the love of the outdoors) in those special wilderness moments, is this a result of some “actual” presence of something that was once my dad?  As I consider my own mortality, is there any value in continue to grow my own sense of self, pursuing my path to enlightenment — or does all this work simply vanish when my physical self is no more?
The mere possibility that years of work and experience on the self just goes away upon death, well, offends me.  It offends the sense of order that I’ve been taught exists in the Universe.  It offends the order and inherent goodness I experience over and over again, as I navigate this world.  In fact, it pisses me off to think of the waste of all these consciousnesses over history — if they just vanish upon death.

But this is more than an emotional reaction.  It goes against the understanding of the universe that my education as a scientist has provided.  From Newton’s Laws including Conservation of Momentum, to the Conservation of Energy principles that continue to be demonstrated experimentally, and provide the underpinnings of our models of the physical world — these all teach us that the Universe does not just “throw away” things.  Energy and matter, the fundamental building blocks of our physical world, certainly transform, change into each other, migrate and mutate.  But the sum total is conserved.  In spite of a lot of looking, scientists continue to see this Conversation Principle preserved.

I have come to the belief that Consciousness is also “conserved.” I do not see a wasteful universe around us. In fact, all my education points to an orderly universe where fundamental values are conserved. Why would Consciousness not be the same? Would a Conservative Universe be consistent with the HUGE waste of value, if Consciousness simply vanished with each passing life? I find such blatant and rampant waste inconsistent!

I do not have a precise definition of Consciousness, nor have the greatest philosophical minds come to agreement on such. I am not even convinced that Consciousness is even a uniquely human creation and attribute. (I am quite doubtful of this, in fact.) I certainly do not have a handle on what Conservation of Consciousness really means. But, I am increasingly convinced that our “essence”, whatever that is, is preserved — in some form, in some “real”, impactful way.

[A Life Well Lived] Dave and his boys

[A Life Well Lived] Dave and his boys

Dave and his boys

I’m always amazed at how strong the love can be between parent and kids. I know that personally, I have been completely transformed by the act of parenthood, and the strong love and devotion I have for my kids. And, it is not just my biological children, Ben, Ellie, and Max.  I also feel love and caring for Paiton, my “gifted” son.

It’s not just me, of course. Even though I feel I am an above average father, I am not at all exceptional. In fact, I don’t have to look far to see examples of fathers that make me look a little more average. Take my brother Dave:

Dave has two boys, now men. They have always been great kids and have now developed into fine young men. However, what is exceptional are the circumstances surrounding Dave’s role. When his wife, Ellen, was near term with their second child, Del, she had a massive stroke. It is not clear (to me at least) what caused this, but it was likely a genetic malformation in her brain that was just waiting for the right trigger to cause a rupture. In any case, Dave had to not only deal with the stress of a new child’s birth, but also with his wife being in a medically induced coma — at the time of the birth. It is hard even to imagine.

After Del was born, and Ellen started to recover, she was never the same person. She was deeply affected by the stroke. Her physical facilities were impacted, and for a while she was not able to walk.  But even more difficult, was that she was a shell of herself emotionally. It was like Dave now had 3 kids to take care of, and without the benefit of a partner.

One of the most striking examples of Dave’s love, for his kids and his wife, was his insistence on maintaining his role as father and husband.  It must have been so hard, with all this going on, to maintain his strength, conviction, and passion. But Dave, as far as I could see, never wavered, and never considered giving up his most precious loves. That is truly remarkable love!

This all happened, obviously, quite early in the two boys’ lives. They were raised with a mom who struggled as a mother. But, Dave’s love and caring were steadfast and dominant. There was never a time in their lives where they could doubt the strength of his devotion to them, and to their mom. While Ellen did her best to care for the two kids, she was never capable of real responsibility for their well-being. It fell on Dave to be the anchor for his family — alone and consistent.

Several years later, Ellen died in a skiing accident. (It speaks so highly of Dave’s caring — and Ellen’s inner strength — that he constantly supported and challenged his wife to continue to be the best she could be, in spite of her situation.) The boys were now teenagers. But, once again, Dave was the one to hold strong, and take care of his boys’ hearts. Despite all he had been through, all the effort and caring, he never lost sight of his responsibility, his role as Father. He was STRONG, as he has always been, when those he loves needs his strength!

I am blessed to have my brother in my life! He has been an example, in so many ways, especially as a role model for my own parenting.

[A Life Well Lived] The Watchful Tree

[A Life Well Lived] The Watchful Tree

The Watchful Tree

Yesterday was Dad’s birthday (he’d be like 97, were he still alive), and it got me thinking of some experiences with the man. One that popped up was a camping adventure, in Rocky Mountain National Park, back when I was around 11 or 12:

We were backpacking in RMNP with many of my siblings, and Uncle Dean and Aunt Marion’s clan. We were originally planning to hike in Glacier National Park, but Dad and Uncle Dean did not think to obtain backcountry permits.  (What Okie ever considered needing a permit to backpack in the wilderness? 😊 ) So, we had driven through the night from northern Montana to Estes Park, and were now doing my first hike (of what would end up being many) in this jewel of the Colorado Rockies.

We were on a 3-day trip with the crew.  We camped at a group site called Jim’s Grove. (This campsite has since been closed for restoration.) I don’t remember much about the campground, save that it was near the Boulder Field on the route to Longs’ Peak, and that it was right at treeline. I do however recall vividly the particulars of where Dad picked to setup the tent he and I shared. The ground was not as smooth and level as some of the locations the others put their tents. However, it was situated right next to an ancient, gnarly old juniper or bristlecone pine. I remember Dad stating that it was likely over 400 years old. This location, and that tree, ended up making a huge difference in the quality of our overnight experience.

That night, a fierce and consistent wind came roaring up from the valley through Jim’s Grove.  I recall thinking it sounded like a jet engine up close. It was intense! All through the night, I could hear all the other campers in our group cussing and whining, as their tents blow over, and they had to get out and retie/restake them. (It was also raining quite hard during all this, so the whining was elevated.)  But, thanks to the watchful and protective tree near our tent, we were sheltered from the wind, and the brunt of the storm. While I would say I did not necessarily sleep soundly, with all the noise and activity going on, I was able to avoid getting out in the rain in the middle of the night!

I don’t recall if I ever asked Dad if he had chosen that spot intentionally, for the protection that the Tree afforded. But, it would not surprise me if he had. In any case, this was one of my earliest lessons in the preparations and thoughtfulness that came make a huge difference in the quality of an experience — especially one in the backcountry where every decision can have major and often unforeseen impacts. It was a lesson well taught by Dad, and well-learned.

[A Life Well Lived] All the Dogs in my Life

[A Life Well Lived] All the Dogs in my Life

All the Dogs in my Life

I have been blessed to have so many great canine companions over my lifetime. Good dogs; great friends; trusted companions — all of them! Even though the dog friends have been many, as have the years, I have clear and treasured memories with each of them.

There’s something about the love of a dog. Not just the love from the dog; but also my love for the dog. I don’t prescribe that they have all the feelings and thoughts that we humans often project onto them. Nonetheless, it is clear that they do feel; do care; do love.  There is a certain transcendence about the relationship between a dog and his/her human. It is loyal and true. It is deep and unwavering. If Love truly is what defines Transcendence, as I do state, then that is embodied by the love between man and dog.

So, here we go, with the list:

1. Rip: Yes, that really was his name. (I did not name him!) He was a German Shepherd. Strong and fiercely loyal and protective. A bit too fiercely protective, on occasion. Some of my earliest memories were playing with Rip, and he was always super gentle with me. There is a story of me playing on my tricycle, and not being particularly mindful of my mom’s admonitions to stay in the driveway, away from the street. But, me being me, I decided to ride my trike towards the street again. Rip, knowing from my mom’s tone, that this was “bad”, gently grabbed my shirt with his teeth, and pulled me off the trike. I heard that he barked at me, until Mom came out and took charge. But, in all his gentleness with me, he sometimes took the protection too far. I recall how he attacked a friend of mine who was playing, in Rip’s view, too rough with me. Rip tackled the boy, and put a mouth on his arm. It was not a real bite, but it scared the bejeesus out of my friend! (The next day, that same boy made me cry, threatening to take Rip to the pound.)

2. Sasha: She was a neighbor’s dog. She was not in my life for very long, but I do remember how playful she was — both with Rip and me. She was SO sweet. My main memory of her was chasing and barking at me, while I rolled down our hill in a cardboard box.

3. Blackie: Only knew this stray mutt for a few days. He came wandering by, and I “adopted” him. The only thing I recall of Blackie was the morning that I had to give him up. Mom and Dad were insistent that they did not want another dog. So, they called the pound to come pick him up. (For all I know, it could have been an arranged adoption, but I recall it being the “pound.”) I sat on our front porch with Blackie and cried for about3 hours, waiting for his departure, and then as he left — and for a while afterwards.

4. Sunshine: Sunshine was a border collie mix. She was my brother Dave’s dog. I believe she accompanied him when he arrived at our house in Monroe City, MO – a stop along his vagabond path. Dave and Sunshine lived with us for about a year. Sunshine adored Rip (who was getting older and more mellow). And I LOVED Sunshine! She was so sweet, like most collies. I looked forward to getting home from school each day, so I could play with her and Rip. I would not have liked it if and when she left with Dave, on the next leg of his indeterminate path. But, tragedy cut her life short. She was struck by a car one night. I don’t recall the details, but remember her mangled body. And, remember the sound of the shot, when David put her down with Dad’s 22 rifle. We buried her in the human graveyard just a mile or so from our house.

5. Sooner: I don’t really recall Rip’s death, but I know that soon after Sunshine died, we were dogless. One weekend when my sister, Mona, was home from college, she and I talked my Dad into getting another one. We pleaded and plotted, until he relented. He brought home another border collie pub, this one brown-and-white vs Sunshine’s black-and-white. We named him Sooner, after our favorite football team. He was MY dog! I raised him; walked him; picked up after him; fed him. He and I were best buddies — always together, unless I was at school (or delivering newspapers.) He would sit under my legs when I read on the porch. Mom did not let dogs in her house, so he could not sleep in my bed. But not infrequently, I would go hang out with him in his doghouse. (It was always a bit crowded in there, but he did not seem to mind.) While he was much more gentle than Rip, he also was protective of me. One time, Mona was home again, and we were walking Sooner. She and I were giving each other a hard time, and she got too rambunctious for Sooner’s taste. He did not growl, or threaten — he just got up on his hind legs, put his paws on Mona’s chest, and basically told her to back off. Sooner was my love! But I broke his heart. When I went away to college, he never really understood. He was always SO excited to see me when I came home for a weekend, or for vacation. But, while Dad took good care of him, he was never the same playful pup. His person had pretty much abandoned him. It is one of the greatest regrets of my life!

6. Tanqueray: Yes, like the gin. Obviously, she was a frat dog. I am not quite sure who brought Tank to the Sig House — I think it may have been Marty. But, she quickly became queen of the house. She was always watchful, barked at any delivery man or other passerby, and even once jumped out an open window to put chase to a (turned out harmless) “stranger” in our yard. Everyone on campus knew Tank, too. She would go with various brothers to class — sometimes the professor would even let her stay. Most times, however, she would just wait outside the building until class was out, or see another brother walking along, and go with him. I recall one time when the campus security guard’s car pulled up the house, and when he opened his door, Tank jumped out. We were worried that we were in trouble for letting her roam free. But, no he said, she was just done with her duty of doing rounds with him. One day in the summer, Tank disappeared. The brothers living there over the break looked everywhere for her. We put up fliers in the neighborhood, checked the pound, etc. About a month and a half later, another brother (home for the summer a couple hours drive from the house) was at a ballgame, and there was Tank! He walked up to the man with Tank, and asked how he got her. Turns out, he bought her from someone else. (We always suspected that a member of a rival fraternity had kidnapped her.) He was not happy about letting go of Tank, but after some discussion, he realized that she already had a home, and many people who loved her. I was not still in school when Tank passed, but I’m sure she died amongst MANY people who loved her!

7. Annie: Annie was a Golden Retriever. My (not yet) fiancée, Katie, and I adopted her as a puppy. She was our first child! She lived with us in Norman, OK, Dallas, TX, and then two homes in Colorado. She was not a typical golden. She was never really that friendly, did not like kids, and hated the water! But, we loved her nonetheless. Many fond memories with Annie, but one sticks out: Katie, Annie, and I were camping in south central Texas, at a place called Enchanted Rock. It was a hot Texass summer day! Annie was gung ho for a hike at first, but she soon tired. It got to the point where she would go between tree and the next tree, and stop in the shade of each. She basically refused to go on. So, I picked her up, and fireman carried her over my shoulders — for about a mile. She was humiliated, but happy all the same, not to have to walk.

8. Grace: Grace was anything but — she was named ironically. She was abandoned in our front yard in Dallas when she was a puppy. They even left her food and water bowl. (I’ve always speculated that the dad was sick of her, and wanted her out, but the kid insisted on leaving her food bowl.) I first saw her when I was doing some gardening in the front yard. She was so eager to be around a person. She kept running up to me, but if I bent over to pet her, she ran off. This went on all days. Finally, Katie and I decided to let her in the back yard, to see if she and Annie got along. Well, they were best friends! So, Gracie moved in with us. She was not particularly well trained, so she slept in the small sun room, that was just big enough for an old love seat — that served as a luxurious bed for Gracie the mutt. She was such a fast dog, and a little bit of a “bolter”. If she saw the front door open just a bit, she would bolt out, and run into the neighborhood. And no amount of yelling or cajoling could get her to come back. She came back when she wanted to. One time, I got completely frustrated with her. So, I picked up a small rock in my driveway and flung it at her. I never expected to get close, as she was 50 feet away. But, the rock hit her square on the rump. She whelped, and came right back. Somehow, her dad had spanked her from across the street! From then on, she was a much better listener.

Gracie died in my basement. We believe she had an obstruction in her bowels. One morning, I went down to get her, and she was just dead &msash; and Annie was laying next to her. I was a wreck. I went upstairs and woke Katie, just wailing out “She’s Dead! She’s Dead!” Not a very friendly waking. Annie died about 6 months later — I will always believe out of loneliness for her bestie.

9. Buddy: So, it was now Ben and Katie’s turn to conspire against me to get a new puppy. (It all comes around, doesn’t it?) They chose to get a pure bred Australian Shepherd. They drove down south to near New Mexico I believe to pick him up. He was a beautiful black tricolor — such a little ball of fur. The two of them could not decide on a name. He was Romeo before Buddy, and something else too. But eventually, he became Buddy. And, inevitably, he eventually became my dog. (I have always said that Kids and Dogs love me; Adults not so much.) That dog was SO fast! I often let him run at the nearby schoolyard, and I once saw him catch a fox — who had a 50ft headstart! That dog had a whole other gear for foxes! When Buddy was 5, I found out he had lymphoma. I recall lying down on the kitchen floor with him, and crying my eyes out. Buddy had been my confidant through a very hard divorce. And my Dad had died just a month before the news. It was a really hard night. But, I was determined to give him a good ending. I spent around a thousand a month for chemo, at a university veterinary oncology center. Buddy and I had a great summer — did lots of hikes, spent all our time together. Then, one day, I came back and he was just not good at all. The chemo was losing its edge. The vet said we could try other chemo therapies. But, I figured that he and I had our summer together. It was time to let him go. I buried another dog.

10. Cocoa: Well, of course, my kids soon teamed up against me, and soon (a few months) after Buddy died, we had another dog. Cocoa (so named by Ellie even though she was black not brown) was another Australian Shepherd. She was not a pure bred, but she was just as sweet if not more so, than Buddy. (Although, Cocoa never had Buddy’s wheels.) Cocoa was a great companion, to me, and to my sister Mona’s dogs. She and her “cousins” spent many good times together. Plus, Cocoa had a friend at home. About a year after we brought her home, we adopted a kitty, named Chloe (also by Ellie.) They were both black with white shields, and gotten along very well. (Chloe always pretended to be annoyed by Cocoa, but also always missed her when she was away.) Cocoa was with me for almost 11 years. One evening in spring, she started acting weird — would just stand there and look at her water. The next morning, she seemed fine. So, I figured I just watch. The next day, we had a huge snowstorm (almost 3 feet in 24 hours.) Cocoa was not good that morning. She would struggle to get up off the ground, but always try when she saw me. (She was a daddy’s girl.) Finally, she just laid there. It was nearly impossible to get around town, and most places were closed. But I found an emergency vet that was opened, and talked to them. I determined to wait an hour and if she was not better, to brave the weather and take her in. She died within that hour. I have never had a dog die in front of me before. (All our other pets were “put down” at the vet behind closed doors — except for Sunshine.) It was actually kinda peaceful. She and I just sat together and I watched her take her last breath. I laid down with her for a while. Then, called Max down and let him know. I am not afraid to show emotion in front of my kids, but I still do not cry in front of them much. But, I did that day with Max. I told him that pets are a blessing in my life. But, when you have pets, you understand that you will outlive them — all but the last one. It is bittersweet — but the love is so worth it.

11. Maggie: Now, to my current (and likely not last) puppy. Maggie was NOT my idea! Ellie was not in a good way. She was in the middle of a lot of heartbreak after breaking up with a long-term boyfriend. She needed Maggie! She wanted so much to have a “dog of her own”, that would be just hers. She picked out this German Shepherd puppy. (It is all full circle now.) All the way home, Ellie sat in the back seat with Maggie and cried. How could a Dad refuse that? Ellie was pretty involved with raising Maggie — for a while. But, inevitably perhaps (and deep down, not a surprise to me), I became responsible for her. And was a LOT! She was singlehandedly, by far, the most destructive dog I’ve ever owned. There were many times I seriously considered giving her away. Let’s see — couch destroyed; chair torn up; matching ottoman to the chair; two living room chairs; garden pond including pump; tomato garden; piano bench. I’m sure I’m missing something. But, now (after 2 years), she is my buddy! She is around me all the time (sound familiar). I work from home, so she has me around a lot. (Of course, Chloe is still puttering around too.) She is my first real hiking buddy too — been on a few camping and backpacking trips already. I look forward to spending many fun years with this girl!

Well, that’s it! Eleven dogs and counting! I relish the memories and adventures I’ve had with all of them. They are my friends. My companions. They know me!
[A Life Well Lived] Sooner Boy

[A Life Well Lived] Sooner Boy

A Life Well Lived:  Sooner Boy

A Life Well Lived: Sooner Boy

Sooner was MY dog!  He was not the first dog in my life, by any means.  But, he was the first dog that was really mine.  I was his main person.  Whereas previous dogs in my life were generally either my dad’s or my brother’s dog, Sooner lived and breathed to be my dog.  I loved him for that.

Sooner came into my life through tragedy.  My brother had been living with my folks and I for several months.  Dave was in a rooted period, in his otherwise transient existence.  He had come back to the folks’ place, and was pursuing a certificate in electronics, through a learn-from-home but hands on program.  At one point, he even built my folks a television!  It was so great for me to have Dave around for a while.  One memory in particular of that time, was he and I spending hours playing ping pong in the Methodist church which was right next door to the parsonage where we lived.  We got really good during that time!

Another great advantage of having Dave live with us, was his dog, Sunshine.  Sunshine was a super sweet mutt/border collie.  Of course, I fell in love with her.  I would play with her and Rip (our elderly German shepherd) every day after school.  Sunshine was still definitely Dave’s girl, but I loved her too.

Soon after Rip died (gracefully of old age), Sunshine got hit by a car.  We were all really upset that night.  I was pretty young, but I remember Dave bringing her home, and her being in really bad shape.  She was aware, but had been very mangled by the run-in with the automobile.  It was clear she would not live.  I was, of course, distraught.  But Dave had it harder.  He took Sunshine out somewhere, and shot her in the head.  He was the one who had to put the poor girl out of her misery.  He seemed like it struck him really hard.

In any case, back to Sooner.  Soon after Sunshine died, my sister Mona visited.  I seem to recall it was around Thanksgiving, as I remember it being cold and brown there in northern Missouri.  The loss of Sunshine was still fresh.  Mona and I contrived to talk Dad into getting a new dog.  We talked it up with him, and pestered.  Finally, he gave in, and found us Sooner.  Sooner was also a border collie mix, but instead of black and white, like Sunshine, he was a beautiful orangish-brown and white.  I was super excited, and of course, fell right in love with him.

I was pretty responsible for my age, so I pretty much did all the heavy lifting with raising and caring for Sooner.  We took long walks there in Monroe City, a super small (backwards ass) town in northeast Missouri.  He was definitely my boy!  He had to be wherever I was, as much as possible.  Of course, my mom would not allow an indoor dog, so he slept out in the dog house.  But, after school, I would find him, and spend most of my time with him.  I would even hang out with him in the dog house. 😊  When I was reading on the porch (which I did a LOT of), he would sit under my legs.

And Sooner was very protective of me!  I distinctly remember one day, when he was a few years old, when Mona was home again, and we were taking him for a walk together.  She and I were teasing each other, and pushing and shoving.  Sooner did not care for that!  He gently but firmly jumped onto Mona, with his front legs against her chest, and made it quite clear that she should not mess with his guy — me!

I loved that dog!  But, ultimately, I broke his heart.  Sooner was probably around 6 or 7, when it came time for me leave for college.  I was super excited to start that phase of my life.  I loved college, and quickly started finding out who I was, separate from living with my parents.  But, I left Sooner behind.  Dad always pushed me on this — he kept suggesting that I take Sooner with me.  Of course, this was not really possible.  I was living in the dorms at school, and no dogs allowed.  Plus, I was just a kid!  Mom knew Dad’s request was not rational, and did not let it become an issue.  I don’t believe really there was anything else I could have or should have done.

But, it broke Sooner’s heart!  It is one of the greatest disappointments in my life, that he never understood where his boy went off to.  Why would the most important person in his life simply abandon him?  I would see him, and shower him with love, whenever I was home.  But after my sophomore year, I never really lived at home again.  So, besides the occasional visits, Sooner and I did not spend time together.  Now, Dad took good care of him.  But, it was just not the same.

Sooner passed somewhere during the course of my undergraduate time.  He was getting aged, but I truly feel he lost a lot of his energy when I left him.  I recall that he actually got shot randomly — someone passing down the alley behind my folks house was firing off a gun, and it got Sooner.  Dad took him to the vet, but the decision was made to “put him down”.  I don’t recall for sure, but I don’t think I was there with him, at the end.

I understand where I was at that point in my life.  I don’t begrudge the decision making of my younger self.  I do not feel guilt, per se.  But, I do regret the loss — both my loss of my first dog, and Sooner’s loss of his person.