“Who’s the dude sitting by my grave?”



“Our new dog, Stanley.”

“Your new dog! What’s Aussie?”

“An Australian cattle dog mix, Stan. Australians call themselves,Aussies.”

“Clearly standards have plummeted since I died.”

“It was Bernie’s idea to call her Aussie.”

“Does she like it?”

“I don’t know, Stanley. She’s afraid of Bernie.”

“Oh no, another Zen student!”

“Now now, Stanley, Zen students haven’t been afraid of Bernie for quite a while. Aussie was afraid of Rami when he came to the house, and when I took her to the Farm she was afraid of John. I think she’s afraid of men.”

“How old is this dummy?”

“Aussie is one year old, Stan.”

“And she’s already afraid of men? Well, that’ll teach you”.

“Teach me what, Stan?”

“That’ll teach you to find someone new so soon after I died. I’m not even cold in my grave and off you go to the shelter, making eyes at every four-legged creature you meet.”

“In the past, Stan, I’ve always waited a lot longer before I got new dogs. But things are different when you’re older. You’re aware of time going by; these may be the last dogs we have. Even grief changes. Instead of suspending activity, you go on. You keep on doing, keep on living, you adopt more dogs, go back to the woods with them, but they’re not replacements for those not there, if you know what I mean.”

“I have no idea what you mean.”

“The older you get, Stanley, the more of life you have under your belt. The more of life you become. You’re not gone, Stanley, just because Awesome Aussie is around.”

“Awesome Aussie? Puke! Puke! Puke! I’m ashamed to have such an unworthy successor. I can just see it on the lineage chart: Stan the Man, Zen Master of Montague Mountain, Deaf Listener, Blind Wall-Gazer, Penetrator of Marrow Bones, followed by his successor, Awesome Aussie. No! No! No!”

“Give her a chance, Stanley. You were no prize when we first got you.”

“At least I was good looking!”

“Give her the benefit of the doubt, Stan. You were young once.”

“I was alive once.”

“She’s new life, Stanley, new life blooming and flowering. Aussie will mature, she’ll settle down, she’ll learn what’s what, she’ll learn what’s not. She’ll be every bit of a Zen dog that you were.”

“How is that going to happen if she won’t get close to the Man?”

“Maybe she’ll want a woman for a teacher, Stan. Like me.”

“Don’t make me laugh.”