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.


College: (n) an educational institution or establishment


I never went to college.

I have used numerous excuses and lies to disguise this fact:

  1. “Well, the experience I’ve had is very similar to going to college.”
  2. “I took a few courses but never enough for graduation. Maybe I should check into that.”

Or the outright lie:

  1. “I am a graduate of Xavier University.”

(My thought? Most people would not know how to spell Xavier and would not pursue further.)

All through my twenties I felt like a dog without a collar. You know–a mutt rolling around the town, and everybody knows he doesn’t have a purpose or an owner
because he has no tags.

Yes, without college I felt a sense of self-discrimination. I was so convinced that people were looking down on me that I looked down on myself.

Then one day I simply asked my inner soul, do you wish you had gone to college?

I immediately realized that everything I had experienced would be gone in deference to the collegiate adventure.

That would include a wife, two kids, a music group, albums and writing a book. The case could be made that I would have eventually done these anyway–just with more book learning.

But one day–I guess I was about thirty-three years old–someone asked the question about college and I responded, “I never went.”

I really felt that the Earth moved beneath my feet–that the sky was falling in to trap me. But nothing actually happened. The person who inquired was a little surprised, since she felt I was very adept at what I was doing. But we were quickly on to talking about whether potato salad was better with mayonnaise or Miracle Whip.

You see, you don’t have to go to college for those kinds of discussions. Just have a heart, an idea you believe in and a willingness to be wrong.

I have found this to be the definition of higher education.


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Bulldog: (n) a dog of a sturdy smooth-haired breed with a large head and powerful protruding lower jaw

It was a bulldog named Polka.

One of my sons and his family purchased this old, brutish mutt, compelled by an inner need to display a dog which is obviouslDictionary By suffering from image issues and a variety of afflictions. She snorted, she slobbered and she found it very difficult to get around, spending a lot of her time panting.

So obviously, I felt an immediate affinity to her.

She apparently liked me, too–because every time I arrived at the house, she perched herself at the front door and wiggled her butt the best she could, while simultaneously peeing on the floor.

I can’t say it was the best greeting I ever had, but certainly the most sincere.

Bulldogs are known for having a difficult time acquiring air through their distorted snouts. So one day, in the midst of an extraordinarily hot, Florida afternoon, Polka exerted herself so much that she came home and died.

Even though, as time has passed, another bulldog named Oscar has been purchased to replace our long-lost friend, I will never forget her.

For I have never found anyone else to urinate in reverence to me.


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