In Memory of Conner, CGC


It's almost like yesterday, though it was at least 10 or 12 years ago, when I came upon AARF and 'Conner'. My first ever dog of my own had died at home with a veterinarian's help. And after a month of searching for Labrador Retrievers and narrowing my search to three breeds, I happened by an adoption stand for AARF and met Paula Handley.

Paula and her husband had several dogs of their own and their very first 'foster' dog was a black Flatcoated Retriever named 'Conner'. And he had something about him that I knew was special. I went to Paula's home to see him 'in action' in their yard with other dogs, and to see how he moved and played. And I felt that he was the dog for me; soon I was cleared to adopt him and started an adventure.

I met Donna Crumpler, a court expert witness and trainer and she helped me understand him. I took him through 4 different training classes and he always shone. And at the last one, I noticed some event was underway after my weekly class and found it was the 'CGC' test. That day I learned what Canine Good Citizen meant and for fun, I paid the $10 fee to try the test with Conner.

You know where this is going, right? He barely passed the test and the tester was stunned that Conner had not taken the class for CGC. I was not really surprised, because I knew some things about Conner... - a shelter worker called AARF to ask that they come see Conner because he was 'slick as an onion' and so obviously not just another dog. - I knew Conner had been bounced around to several homes and at one point lived out of garbage cans. - I knew that AARF volunteer Janet knew Conner and loved him. - I knew that Conner was very trainable and smart and had it confirmed by a professional trainer and temperament tester and trial court expert witness (about dog aggression).

Along the way, Conner died of a fast developing cancer at about age 5. And at some point later, I dreamed a remarkable 'lucid dream' one winter night in which a dog like Conner gave me a silent message. That message became the theme of the poem and later the title song of my first CD record ('Earthly Angels') that features two 'dog anthems'. And that dream led to my first book (unpublished but well reviewed by Dr. Ian Dunbar of British television fame). Conner awoke in me a realization that serious love songs that celebrate the dog/human relationship can become a niche market, just as Petco and dog books, and dog calendars do.

'Conner' came into my life as an AARF 'rescue', like Lydia and King have, as each narrowly missed disaster of a different sort on their way to me. So, here is my favorite poem that came to me years ago as I thought about 'Conner' and what he opened my eyes and heart to...



A Dog's Prayer ...

Hear my silent voice, ancient as the wind and land
Yet I, a simple beast, reveal the deepest heart of Man.
Most noble of all creatures great and small, incapable of speech or guile,
I alone the only friend to Man, ever faithful, never failing all the while.
My only role, unchanging through all time
to serve Him who created me and mine:
A lower god 'twixt Heaven and earth,
of all God's blessings I became
Man's friend, protector, and earthly angel first.

Though innocent of sins or shame,
yet I would bear the pain for those of Man
in cruelty toward me and countless others at his fickle hand.
My noble mind and voice, though silent, speak with soft intent:
reviled by few, loved by some, known to all in God's firmament.

Before my flight from earthly realm,
Thy will be done in earth and Heaven,
and neither life nor death itself defeat my firm devotion given.
Yet, hear a humble servant's plea:
to be with Man my only prayer, to serve my only destiny.
For if the earth and all within shall pass away and justice reign at last,
then I and Man shall dwell as one, united as in ages past.

I am the Dog, a crowning jewel o'er every worldly treasure,
my dignity a lyric deep beyond Man's clever count and measure.
Yet I alone have stayed the course of nature's path
'til Man arise from selfish dream to know me as I am,
at last...