It was 5:45 AM, and I was standing just inside my garage, waiting for my brother’s arrival. Then I saw headlights shining out on the street, and I heard laughter. Laughter at this time of day? Sure enough! Carla and Jan were opening the Loaf ‘n Jug (just across the street from my house) and they heard me screaming. They were walking over to save me when Robbie pulled up out front. When he explained to them that it wasn’t me calling for help, they all enjoyed a moment of laughter. I laughed, too, when Robbie told me what they had thought was happening.

I realized then that there might be a need of explanation for the cries and screams you may occasionally hear coming from within the ‘giraffe’ fence that surrounds my yard. It’s a delicate subject that takes even more delicacy in the telling.

Remember Kiotee Joe, the rank-smelling, sad-eyed and quite beat-down canine that claimed me about a year ago? Well, the dear old dog soul has come a long ways since then. His once lusterless and dirty coat of blonde fur now shows sheen and luster. His spirit that was once filled with abjectness is now filled with confidence. He dances, leaps and (I swear) smiles when he greets my return home. And his happiest moments are when I am typing and his head is resting on my foot beneath the table.

But, there are a few quite painful and inconvenient moments in Kiotee’s life. Because of a physical condition that has been surgically addressed twice and can’t be re-addressed, I must give him a pill every morning - a laxative. And when the pill’s effects happen, Kiotee cries, moans and sometimes screams. And yes, it sounds as if he (or me) is being tortured and abused.

And when I hear his pain as he struggles with his daily ‘business’, I question whether I’m doing him any favors by letting him endure the agony. How does one weigh and balance the existence of a dog who must face physical anguish every day? True, I could have Kiotee put to sleep. I could end his life with just a short trip to the vet. But - and herein lies the question of balance - doesn’t the fact that he is happy and content nine-tenths of the day figure into the factoring?

I guess Kiotee’s daily plight is sort of like our own. We struggle with physical issues. We feel the burn of pain. We try to get away from the source of our agony, but we can’t. Instead, we walk through it, we live through it, we suffer through it. But that is only one-tenth of our existence. There are the other nine-tenths left to be experienced, and appreciated. It is within that time frame that the benefits definitely outweigh the detriments. Those moments when we find ourselves smiling, dancing, perhaps even leaping with joy, those moments that beget the culminating effects of the goodness of being vibrantly alive - that is what truly matters and counts as a life worth living! And don’t you imagine Kiotee Joe would agree?

FFFFF

If I had been paying attention, I would know to whomsoever I should say “thank you” for the new ‘bright spot’ on the southeast corner of our oxymoronic courthouse square. At first, there was just a newly-laid pad of cement with a few wires and pipes sticking up from it. Then there appeared a regal, lit, ‘citified’ town clock. A few weeks later, a water fountain was added. And as I drove around the circle this past week, I noticed the finishing touches - a green park bench flanked by two pots of colorful flowers. This centennial project definitely adds a touch of class and grace to our little town. So, to those of you who procured the funds, did the labor, and planted the flowers - “Thank You!”