HEY, THE BUDDHA BEGGED!

I love to read!

Stanley, Wednesday is your 13th homecoming day. You’ve been with us for 13 years, longer than any other dog I’ve ever had.

Says a lot about my survival skills.

How would you like to celebrate it, Stan? Big walks? Cuddling?

A 16-oz. steak you don’t have to cook it, those rolls from House of Pizza, and Rae’s feta cheese omelet. For breakfast. Then for dinner—

Okay, I got the picture. You’ve changed so much from the time you first came to us, Stanley.

Yeah? How?

When you first arrived, Stanley, you wanted no love, no stroking; all you wanted to do was guard the house. For the first few years you were a terror for anyone visiting us and we got regular visits from the dog police.

That was so much fun!

How have I changed, Stanley?

You’re not such a bully. That’s probably because Bubale, your partner in crime, is not around anymore. When that pit bull was alive Bernie and me had no say about anything.

Tell the truth, Stanley, you love bossy females!

I hate bossy females. I have one more question: Can I retire now?

Retire, Stanley? And pray tell, what exactly are you working so hard on right now?

I am Bernie’s Great Disrupter. I make sure to lie at the foot of his bed each and every night, even if I prefer to lie on my own dog bed, so that he has to watch out and not trip over me whenever he goes to the bathroom. Instead he picks up his cane, shuffles down to the foot of the bed, and then vaults over it in the other direction. That’s the most athletic thing he does all day, and it’s all thanks to me.

You’re his workout trainer, Stanley. His fitness coach.

And who’s around to lick all the foods he drops on the kitchen floor when he makes his breakfast? Just this morning he dropped the peanut butter jar and a big glop fell on the floor. Who came over and voluntarily licked all of it, saving you all that trouble of cleaning it up yourself?

You did, Stan.

Who licks the top of the yogurt cup when it falls to the floor so that it doesn’t leave big white spots?

You do, Stan.

Or that great chicken soup he heated up for lunch, some of which dripped down?

You’re a regular Mr. Clean, Stanley. All-purpose.

Who begs Bernie for food when he’s eating, helping him feel wanted and needed?

You do, Stanley, especially when I’m not looking.

Exactly. You yell at me to stop begging, so I have to now do it on Bernie’s other side where you can’t reach me. And what’s wrong with begging? Don’t you advise all Zen Peacemakers to learn to beg?

That’s a whole other practice, Stanley.

Didn’t the Buddha beg for food all his life? Why is it okay for him and not for me?

You’re right, Stanley, it’s time for you to retire.

Don’t rush me, retirement is a serious decision. I have to ponder it carefully.

Leeann says you do great when you’re with her and all the other dogs, Stanley. You’re deaf, mostly blind, with weak back legs and hips, but you still keep up as they climb up hills and go down valleys.

And I’m the oldest dog in the pack. I wonder if that makes me the wisest.

Doubtful.