So, I may get into trouble here...of what kind, I have no idea.
I chose to "double blog" this one, meaning on both of my sites, since it is so important to me.
I have a favorite author (who doesn't?!)...and his name is Dean Koontz. You may have read some of his books, or maybe not. He's not for everyone, as my mother tells me every time I try to get her to read one, but I adore his writing style. The way he can create atmosphere, provoke philosophical thought and restore the faith and the profound beauty of the human race - he's a mesmerizing story-teller. You forget where you are for hours. He's got some skills, and a mansion in California to prove it! Point is, the guy's amazing.
Recommendation: Two newer ones of his called "The Darkest Evening of the Year" or "The Good Guy"....or two older ones called "Lightning" or "Watchers". I can go on and on...but if you like these and come back for more, I can talk more then. ;)
I guess part of the reason I am shamelessly plugging is for the props; in fear of reprimand, I'm hoping this makes the blow a little softer.
Anyhoo, I entered a contest on his web site titled "Trixie's Super Dog Contest". See, Trixie was Dean's beloved "Doggie Daughter", and they lost her to cancer last summer. I agonized with them and their loss, until Ruger passed...and his website is part of the reason I have made it this far through the grieving process. He keeps her memory alive by writing books and newsletters as her...it's super cute and if you ever get a chance to check it out, Trixie's part of his website is here. (Yes, that's me, sucking up again, hoping to shave off time in the slammer for the forthcoming criminal atrocity.) Trixie was an awesome Golden Retriever who was trained and served as a Companion Dog for a disabled person (working through CCI or Canine Companions for Independence). After a few months in service, her joints started to act up with the increased effort and she was retired to live with the Koontz family for the rest of her life. Trixie has three books out now, with more to come...but her newest just arrived, titled "Bliss To You: Trixie's Guide to a Happy Life". Adorably written and is a great lesson in living a more simple, "dog-like" life.
Dean frequently writes about Goldens in his books since the arrival of Trixie and I think that is what sealed the deal for him as my favorite author. He is a genuine dog lover, a dog "person", I have called them, and without meeting him, I like the guy already. So, knowing how he feels about Trixie, and knowing it matched my feelings for Ruger, it seemed inevitable that I would enter this contest, telling him about our baby.
The contest asked you to write about a heroic virtue of your dog, in 75 words or less. That is a serious challenge. I had so much to say, it was hard to condense all I felt about him, everything I wanted to convey in a mere 75 words. I took it as a writing challenge to tell the world about Ruger. So, I condensed a previously written poem, written the week after his death, to the minimum requirement. I included a picture and sent it along to be judged. Prizes were offered to the top 3 winners and then also to 7 runners-up. My only hope was to have the poem published on his site. That way, the legacy of Ruger would have another venue.
After fretting for 2 weeks, I learned that there were almost 500 entries to the contest. I thought..."well, that means I haven't a shot in the world!" I figured my poem would get lost in the pile and not make it's way back out. Today, I found out who the winners were...and....
It wasn't me.
BUT! I was a runner-up!
Since there were so many entries, so many good ones, Dean himself chose to increase the amount of winners to 5 Top winners and 12 runners-up. And I became one of them! Yay! Go Ruger!
I'm actually surprised that I did win, because after reading the top 5, all of the dogs were of the kind that had overcome serious adversity. It wasn't a writing contest, it was a "super dog" contest - what makes your dog a super dog - all about the dog, not the writing skills (my bad) and the winners were quite deserving. It makes me happy to see so many devoted pet parents out there. I'm happy to be in such good company!
I think the most exciting part is that Dean himself read my poem, actually sat down and read something I wrote, and then chose it to be one of the winners. That gave me goosebumps. My writing Idol read and accepted my "submission"; Wow. I think that just made my year. I'm not proud of myself very often, but I have to say that this made the short list.
Second, and most importantly, it means he connected with the feelings I expressed about Ruger, that he understood what we were going through. I wanted so badly for the poem to be posted, but only the Top winners were given that honor.
SO....and here's where I go to jail...I'd like to post it here. Let me say that I believe this poem now belongs to Dean Koontz and his sponsors (I wasn't sure what the rules would be for the runners-up, if I still lose the rights), and I am posting it here, giving them full credit for owning it. *crossing fingers* ...and I hope that's enough for the legal mumbo jumbo types... I wrote it, but it belongs to them, but it was never posted, so hopefully they will go easy on me for that very reason. We'll see! If I stop blogging for months, you'll know what happened...
After much ado, here it is - my tribute to Ruger...in 75 words or less.
Our Gentle Shepherd
Our Gentle Shepherd
Reminiscent of a great maned lion
Our Gentle shepherd traversed his life with quiet pride.
Obedient and strong, strong-willed and gentle,
Regal to the very end
He showed us how to live
More than ever in the way he died.
Silently suffering, never betraying his demanding illness
Those last sweet kisses we were privileged to enjoy
Imparting lessons in passion, innocence and play
The purest form of instruction one could ever hope to receive.
In honor of Ruger, our sweet baby boy
We miss our child more than words can describe.