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Show me the way to go home
I’m tired and I want to go to bed
I had a little drink about an hour ago, and it’s gone right to my head
Wherever I may roam
On land or sea or foam
You can always hear me singing this song
Show me the way to go homeWhen Lincoln woke from his naps he was greeted with eager tail wags and raucous wrestling. When he began to crawl, Lincoln often attempted to dive headfirst into the fray. When he watched me reward the dogs for not obliging his attempts to join them, Lincoln’s eyes searched for understanding and meaning behind the act. All these moments helping to build this ember up to a roaring blaze.I tended my little fire with a bellows made of two Rhodesian Ridgebacks, who between them fed Lincoln the air he needed to grow. There are many ways to build a fire, but this is the way I know. Lit by love, fueled by experience, stoked by the relentless vitality of dogs.Still, the darkness loomed. In February we rushed Lincoln to the ER for a sudden viral infection which threatened to close his airway. I once again felt that desire to cover my vulnerable light and protect it.But I remembered the lessons of Eko and Penny and Zero. The lessons which taught me the only thing worse than losing your light to darkness is smothering it yourself.So we rekindled the fire, feeding Lincoln all the sights and sounds and experiences we could offer. Mindful of the darkness, but never letting it get between us and our growing light.On the morning of Lincoln’s birthday this past Monday we took a family trip to the dog beach. For the first time in all our trips, Lincoln was not attached to me. While I waded out with Zero and Penny, Lincoln stood on his own next to Emily. He looked over his shoulder with a quizzical expression and laughed. Uncertain of what was going on, but delighted to be a part of the experience. In that at least, he takes after his father.I left Lincoln to discover the sand with his own feet and used mine to race the dogs across the shallows. When we’d exhausted ourselves, I turned back to shore and waved to Emily and Lincoln. The light showing me the way to go home.At one, Lincoln burns brighter than ever. He runs and smiles and plays with the wild verve of a Rhodesian Ridgeback. Although the AKC repeatedly refuses my attempts to register him as such, I like to think Penny and Zero have recognized him as an honorary member of the pack.As he begins to discover himself – at the beach and in this world – Lincoln will need that membership. The one which teaches him that even in darkness, even when choking, even when reduced to ash, we must sustain the fire that drives us. And when we cannot?Well, the family secret is that a dog is always willing to lend you a light. A light to help you find your way forward, and find your way home.I’m grateful to Eko, Zero and Penny for always lending their light to me. I feel even more fortunate to now share their gift with my son.Happy birthday, Link!