Dalmatian: (n) a breed of dog with short having a white coat marked with black or brown spots

Sandra Gunderson was a dog-breeder, though she hated the term. She preferred connector, love-birther or canine dating service.

She had a very successful business. She advertised all black dogs or pure white dogs.

There were no other markings on them—no little white bowties on the black ones or dark streaks streak on the nose of the white ones.

When people wanted a black dog or a white dog, Sister Gunderson was the lady to come to, and find your dream pet.

Then one day, strangeness took over, as it often does.

While delivering the latest litter, emerging from the loins of Mama Dog was a completely different creature:

A white dog with black splotches.

Or was it a black-splotched dog with a white background?

Ms. Gunderson was so shocked by the appearance of this mutant that she decided to take it away and nurse it on her own, far from the other puppies, and maybe keep it around the barn—to scare away strangers.

But lo and behold, before she could enact her plan, the McKenzies came with their eight-year-old daughter. She was in the throes of celebrating her birthday and they planned to purchase a puppy and saw the bespeckled creature with the white skin and black splotches.

The little girl immediately fell in love with this surprise visitor.

Word spread quickly, and before too long, folks who had wanted white dogs or black dogs suddenly demanded black and white dogs.

It was very tricky. Ms. Gunderson had to wait until a spotted male came out of the black and white dogs to mate with a female from the first batch. And then—no guarantees.

All sorts of configurations appeared.

In about the twelfth generation, the exact mix were birthed and ready for sale.

She sold so many that she couldn’t keep up with the demand. She had to link with some other nearby breeders and work as a team—to make more and more black on whites.

Dalmatians–that’s the name they came up with.

They were so cute that Walt Disney made a movie about a hundred and one of ’em.

After Sandra went to see the Disney movie, she remembered how it all began. She had been mighty close to doing away with that young pup, which appeared, refusing to be white or black.

She was shocked at its look and equally as stunned when the appearance of the dog ended up being a winner.

Just like Sister Gunderson, I, too, occasionally think of the things that have come into our human lives that were first startling—out of step—and seemed to be misfit for our cause.

And now they are celebrated.

So am I a white dog?

Am I a black dog?

Am I a Dalmatian?

Nah. I’m just a mutt.


Chuck: (informal) another name for Charles

I guess his real name was Charles, but by the time he matriculated in my direction, he was “Chuck.”

He liked music and I played music, and I offered some opportunities to gig–which in the world of the common street musician, translates as

He had a heart for people, a love for God and a thirst for music.

I liked Chuck.

He was just about the age of my two oldest sons, so they befriended him, started a band together and played a lot of different music–covers and even some of my original tunes.

He was always around, but it was pleasant. There are people who are sometimes around, unpleasantly. Not Chuck. He was helpful, he was kind, but he was burdened by internal demons which seemed unlikely for him to possess, but certainly did possess him.

But he talked about it. He was worried about it. He wanted to be different than he was.

This is the only redeemable part of humanity–when we realize who we are and instead of making excuses for it, we make a plan to improve it.

After a while Chuck floated off, got married and had a beautiful little daughter.

I do see him from time to time. It is amazing how we are able to restore the exact same creative chemistry from when we plodded together for a season.

But I guess friendship never dies–it just sits around, patiently waiting for the day it will once again be uncorked and celebrated.



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