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Just Between Men
Take it to Heart
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Bozo, Dirty Biscuits, and Life
By Dan Blankenship

I donít remember at what age Bozo came into my life, but I do remember the process of naming him. The Beagle-mix (I have no idea what he was mixed with Ė I just know he was too tall to be all beagle) was given to us by a family friend. My older sisters and I argued over different names for quite some time. It was during our name jousting that a famous show in Chicago came on the air Ė at its usual time Ė noon. And so our new family member was named after the "Bozoís Circus Show", though I donít think he ever really knew he was so lucky.

I grew up with Bozo, and he with me. When I was sad, I would hug him close. When he seemed sad, he rested his head on my leg and sighed. Yes, he really sighed. And I used to think that only people did that.

When I threw a ball or a biscuit (not dog biscuits - he hated them), Bozo would chase it down. A ball he would bring back to me to throw again. A biscuit would be taken to a hiding spot until later, and when the opportunity presented itself (no humans around), he would bury the tasty treat for future consumption. I never understood why he didnít just eat the biscuit when I tossed it to him. It certainly couldnít taste as good sprinkled with a dirt topping!

Bozo was indeed a strange dog. But he was always a good friend. Most dogs are. Bozo never cared about how much my jeans cost or that I got kicked off the diving team for having bad grades or what size engine my Grand Prix had under the hood. All that mattered to him was that I spent time with him once in a while. That alone sent his tail into a blender-frenzy, his front paws clamoring like a professional boxer, and his tongue slopping like an automatic car wash sponge.

The day came when Bozo had to be "put to sleep", and it was on that day that I realized how precious life is. Dogs donít live as long as people, and maybe God had a reason for that. Maybe our pets teach us about the magnificent gift of life and that we should never (I mean NEVER) take it for granted.

I remember trying to hold back the tears as we drove to the veterinarianís office. It was a useless exertion. The tears broke free that day and I understood a little bit more about the short time humans and animals have on this glorious planet God has given us. One day we will walk in a different world Ė a never-ending world. But the pain still comes when people or animals depart, for we have lost a part of us we may or may not have taken for granted. Either way, it hurts the same.

I wonder if Bozo is in heaven? I wonder if he hides unleavened bread when Jesus isnít looking?
 

LIFE LESSONS FROM 2004:
I've learned that the ones you love the most can hurt you the most. I've learned that people have the right to make the wrong choice. I've learned that, at 50 years old, I have a lot to learn. (Patricia Sheets)

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