Happy Charlie Bravo Day!
I have been asked how finding Charlie has changed my life, and it’s caused me to think long and hard on how to describe the impact. Apart from the obvious, adopting not just a dog but a force of nature that is as focused and intense as anything I’ve ever seen, she gave me a voice.
Some would say just the opposite, the I gave her a voice, but they would be incorrect. I have always seemed to have the blessing and the curse of being involved in drastic situations, almost like I go out in search of drama, but that has never been the case; the Bible says “fools rush in where angels dare to tread”, and I must lead the league in rushing. Weird experiences just seem to “happen”.
Then I turned fifty; things slowed down, and I was struck with the fear that my life of weird things just “happening” was over. And if there is no hope of adventure, imaginary or otherwise, just roll me into a hole somewhere and start shoveling.
Then my friend Trevor was hit by the drunk driver and I got involved with his cause, and the coincidences and odd experiences started coming so hard and fast that his mother Pam said, “you have to put this in a book”. But how? I had never written anything non-work related, and besides, how do you write in the first-person without appearing hopelessly narcissistic?
Then I had the motorcycle accident that almost killed me, and left me for a time with the humility of a colostomy bag as a constant reminder of my own mortality. The first phone call that I remember receiving in the hospital was from Pam; “this is your chance to write that book”, meaning that I was going to have some recovery time on my hands. Although that was true, I was still stuck with the initial problem: how do you write about your own thoughts and experiences without looking like an ego-ed out middle-aged guy in search of validity?
Then Charlie was placed in my path, and she and I began to find our voice.
Things went well at first, as we determined that the page would be a non-saccharine place on the web to escape the constant barrage of both negativity and the dogmatic foisting of everyone’s particular beliefs as theirs was “the only way”. The stories were always intentionally light and sometimes snarky, with only occasional mentions of Charlie’s original condition to serve as contrast to how far she had progressed, from the Crate to the Queen of the Casa del Whackos.
Then along came Stevie.
Stevie’s short time at the Casa was as life-changing as Charlie’s, as it was her incredible manner of passing that left me with the immediate conundrum of “how do I put this information out there? This is a place for GOOD news!”. On the other hand, the page had progressed to the point that it seemed like we were more of a family by that time than just a random bunch of strangers around the globe reading about the antics of a bunch of hairy misfits from the Deep South.
Writing that post was one of the hardest things I’ve ever experienced, so far out of my comfort zone that it might as well have been someone else. I was going to have to reveal real feelings, and I couldn’t let Charles do the talking, as I’m the dad, and that’s what dads sometimes have to do. If I was going to tell any of it, I had to tell it all, as uncomfortable as it was.
So if you sometimes wonder at the proclivity towards embarrassing tales told here that others might have the wisdom to keep better left unsaid, this is why; this is life, and we’re all in it together. Although I refuse to sugar coat it, at least we can have some fun with it.
And while she is getting older, life with Charlie just keeps getting better, to the point that I almost feel like we’re bragging when we post of our adventures. While bragging might be expected behaviour from a Queen, it’s usually not quite as acceptable coming from the portly driver of the motorcycle. But that is my crate to escape from as well, as although there is a time and a season for self-depreciation and reflection, the world benefits nothing from you or I being shrinking violets.
So that’s how living with Charlie has changed my life, and it can change yours as well. Do you have a gift? Don’t discount it, use it to benefit others, no matter how ridiculous or insignificant you may feel it may be. If you feel like doing a little flouncing? Flounce away, regardless of what others might think; those that dance appear insane to those who are deaf to the music.
I consider it one of the greatest experiences of my life that you allow us to be a part of this family of misfits from around the globe, brought together by the improbable story of a goofy dog with a message, that we all have a gift, and we all can make a difference.
We be of one blood, ye and I.