Flash's Song: How One Small Dog Turned into One Big Miracle

Flash's Song: How One Small Dog Turned into One Big Miracle

by Kay Pfaltz

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781626360204
Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing
Publication date: 09/03/2013
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Kay Pfaltz is the bestselling author of Lauren’s Story: An American Dog in Paris and The Beagle. Kay has been published in The Missing Peace: The Hidden Power of Our Kinship with Animals, Bark Magazine, and Bernie Siegel’s A Book of Miracles. She is a contributing editor for La Joie and writes a monthly wine column for Blue Ridge Life. Kay holds a PhD in English literature from Kings College, University of London, and donates profits from her books to animal welfare organizations. She lives with three rescued hounds named Chance, Sasha, and Olive in Roseland, Virginia.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Love

Where there is the greatest love, there are always miracles.

— Willa Cather

The thing about miracles is that they're all around us. Just like love. True love and miracles go hand in hand. La Rochefoucauld said that true love is like seeing ghosts: we all talk about it, but few of us have ever seen one. Same thing with miracles. They say Jesus performed them and I guess the people saw, but that was a while ago and I wasn't around to take notes. Like love, miracles are hard to see, but easy to feel. They come when we're not expecting them; they come almost like a whisper or a shadow. We never know when because a miracle can befall us when we're doing laundry or cutting flowers, and because it comes in mundane moments, we miss it ... until we wake up.

All miracles are born of love. Yet it seems we need the thorn's pierce before we can appreciate the scent of the rose. Yin and yang, dark and light, ebb and flow, each moment holds both the sorrow and the joy. And maybe we can only truly taste joy after we've drunk our share of sorrow. In my middle years I found my life, time and again, blessed by miracles. But this period of grace did not arrive without first summoning those disruptive forces — bearers of pain — which serve to awaken each of us. Sometimes they have to conk us over the head to get our attention, because while most people will tell you they want spiritual enlightenment, when fear and pain come knocking, those same people are on the first boat to Jamaica to drink rum drinks with little umbrellas in them and dig holes in the sand to stick their heads in. Or so it was with me. Which only means I was prime to get conked.

As with much of my life, it began with a dog. A long shiny piece of black licorice named Flash.

*
Flash was a gift, a gift born of love. Well, love and a pinch of dysfunction. It was my sister, Amy, who gave me my first dog, Lauren. Lauren had been a skin-and-bones starving beagle who turned up in severe need of medical treatment under Amy's front porch. Although plagued by illness her entire life, Lauren became the great love of my life, living in Paris with me and dining out in many a French restaurant. Because of this great gift, I felt I would remain forever indebted to Amy and at some point I decided that remaining in debt to one's older sister could have its disadvantages. And yet it would again be Amy who gave me Flash, this time paying a friend to fly out to Arizona, where she then lived, to carry Flash back to me in Virginia.

Amy lay awake night after sleepless night afraid of the grief I'd endure when Lauren died, quite convinced I would try any number of methods (turn on the oven and open the door, swallow a bottle of pills, jump out the window, fill in the blank, she had a whole list) to follow Lauren to wherever she went. Our arguments took on a similar flavor.

"I don't want another dog," I'd say each time.

"Think of the silver lining," she'd insist.

"The what?"

"The silver lining."

I'd look around my house and see stinkbugs bombing about, but no silver lining. "I don't see it."

"The silver lining is that the dark part of the cloud — the grief and need that causes you to reach out and welcome another dog —"

"But that's just it, I'm not reaching out."

"... is also what in time will be a balm to your soul in years to come," she'd continue, completely dismissing any opinion I might offer. "That little shimmering edge around the darkness will grow. There's always a silver lining behind the pain. And then there's also the fact that you've rescued another animal in need."

On a beautiful morning in May I had held Lauren in my arms as she died. But that's a different story.

The silver lining was the beauty behind the pain, and this new dog, according to Amy, was to symbolize for me the silver lining behind much of life. Amy's silver lining lecture got so predictable it would follow just about anything I could think to say, regardless of content.

"I don't ever want another dog."

"But think of the silver lining."

"I think I'll develop a pathological obsession with chocolate-covered hazelnuts," and without missing a beat, she'd say, "Think of the silver lining." She kept up in this fashion, until one day, finding me acquiescing in a moment of weakness, she grabbed the first dog she found, literally dumped from a car, and sent me the small black emissary of healing. My silver lining.

I always felt this one example exemplified my sister's love for me, to say nothing of her faith in my coping skills.

It was October 27. I remember it well. Amy said her friend Scotty would meet me in the parking lot in front of Barnes & Noble and there she would hand over Flash. I drove up in my old pickup truck and saw Scotty holding a smooth-haired miniature black dachshund on her lap. From a distance I remember thinking he resembled a large salamander. He looked a little slippery, and he looked a little crooked. Scotty and I said hello and she nodded her head down to the placid salamander. "This is Flash. Amy said he's to become your silver lining, whatever that's supposed to mean." But before I could respond, more words rushed from her mouth. "I'm really worried. He won't look up at me anymore. I think something's wrong. Or worse, he's mad at me and I can't go through life with someone holding a vendetta against me. Even if it is a dachshund."

"He doesn't really look the type," I said, trying to reassure her, but she didn't seem convinced.

"I don't know. First he bonded with Amy, followed her around the house and everywhere. Then I take him away from her after he's already been dumped by his original family for who knows what stupid reason. Too expensive to feed probably."

"He's pretty small," I said, taking in his smooth body, which couldn't have been much more than twelve or fourteen inches long. "Can't really see him eating through bags of dog food."

"No, no it happens. Dog chews up a chair leg. Let's dump him. Vet bills too expensive. Give him away! Bites the neighbor. Euthanize him!" She was on a roll. "It happens all the time," she said. I nodded then. She was right; it happened. "Now he's bonded with me. All that love and togetherness on the plane and, poor little runt, I have to give him up." It sounded like a mail-order husband from Russia or something that hadn't worked out.

"Maybe he's just sad or confused," I said.

"Oh, God. No wonder he won't look up at me. He must think he made some humongous mistakes along the way."

"Flash," I said softly, addressing him this time.

"Flash boy, you haven't done anything wrong. Please don't be mad at me. I was only trying to help."

"I think he knows that," I said, trying to put Scotty's mind at ease. "They understand our intentions."

"Please don't be mad," she said again to Flash.

"He's sensitive, isn't he?" I asked, eyeing the small dog on her lap, who kept taking surreptitious peeps at me without, it seemed, wanting me to notice.

"Yes. He was so good on the plane. Well, he was drugged. He may be a little groggy for a while. Maybe that's it!" She seemed at once greatly relieved by Flash's drug-induced state.

"You won't be passed around anymore," I said to Flash. Then to Scotty, "Thank you so much."

"Nothing to thank me for. Amy sent me a ticket. I got a mini vacation and a chance to see your sister. You know, I don't think too many sisters would do that for each other," she said. Then with some reluctance I thought, she passed Flash over to me.

I held him in my arms for the first time and he looked up.

"Take good care of him."

"I will," I answered.

"I have faith. I have faith that you will."

Faith. What did it mean? Could I share her same faith? Here I was taking over the care of an animal I knew nothing about, committing to take care of him for the rest of his life.

"Please don't be mad!" Scotty called after us as I started to walk away. "She'll take good care of you."

"Thanks so much," I said again and, carrying Flash, I walked back to my truck. Once in the cab, I set Flash on the seat beside me and really looked at him. That first real look at his face is laced into my soul. With his squinty, sedated eyes he stared up at me with partially pricked ears and tipped his head to one side. It was a curious look, a questioning look, and a slightly worried look. But there was also the beginning of trust, perhaps the trust all animals must give to the humans who assume the role of guardian throughout their lives.

"It's okay, Flash," I said softly. "This will be your last home."

He looked at me and I sensed he seemed to be waiting for more. Maybe Scotty's neurosis had gotten to me. "I promise you I'll take good care of you forever. No matter what," I said, and I could feel Scotty somewhere heaving a sigh of relief. I wasn't so sure about Flash.

We drove off together in this fashion, me talking quietly to him, reaching my hand over to stroke his shiny back, and him cocking his head with its dazed expression to regard this latest person to take up command in his dachshund life.

Before taking Flash to his new home, however, I pulled up to the wine, bread, and cheese shop that I had created ten years earlier after returning to Virginia from Paris and finding no decent wine, bread, cheese, or chocolate. I stocked it with those items and named it Basic Necessities, hoping people wouldn't stop in seeking toothpaste or toilet paper. Eventually it morphed into a café and as it grew I took in partners to share the responsibility and expenses so that now I only worked part-time to supplement my writing. My current partners, Bev and Keith, lived on an organic farm one mile from the little shop. It was a marriage made in heaven, and I felt blessed to have them. We could offer organic produce more than half the year, and I felt the pride of telling diners not only that their veggies were local and organic, but that they were picked a mere hour or so ago from a farm down the road. We hired a wonderful chef, Sallie Justice, who understood our philosophy, and again I felt grateful for she brought elegance and professionalism into our small kitchen.

I carried Flash in my arms. But before I reached the door to show him off, Marie, who'd been working off and on for ten years, came rushing out to greet us.

"Oh my God! Look at the wienerdog!" I turned and looked behind me, not comprehending right away.

"You and the wiener dog look just alike!"

Flash had a beautiful black face with two brown spots above his eyes which I called his umlaut, after the Germanic dots that sometimes appear above a vowel. The umlaut gave definition to his dark face, helping me easily read his expressions and understand his wants and needs. Perhaps it was our similar dark coloring that inspired Marie's remark, but I have to assume that, apart from this, the wiener dog and I did not look just alike, for Flash had the biggest overbite of any dog I had ever seen, his upper jaw and nose extending out well over an inch beyond his short lower jaw. In this respect, neither did he resemble other dachshunds. His profile was funny with its comic flaws, more like a bucked-tooth caricature of a dachshund than a real dachshund. At least until it became a face known to me. Then it was a face — perhaps for its very flaws — that I could only ever love.

"Meet Flash," I said as I walked into the shop. "The latest addition to my family."

The staff all came out to see him, and as Mae, Marian, Marie, Sarah, and Hayley all reached hands down simultaneously to touch Flash, I saw that he didn't shrink away from the strange hands but observed each person. Perhaps he was sizing everyone up. The afternoon light came in through the shop's front window, and I saw a funny shadow against the wall: Flash and me, merged into one entity.

Just then, Rosie, one of our best customers, walked over and I gave introductions again, and soon we were all talking at once, exclaiming over Flash.

"The love the animals give us is like none other," Rosie said, stroking Flash's back. I looked at her and thought, yes, how true. "Do you ever wonder what lies ahead for you and him? Taking him in, how he'll change your life...."

"What journeys you'll travel together, because of each other," Mae said.

I nodded, feeling an odd current travel up my spine. "I don't know him now, but I know I'll come to love him."

"I guess we find love where we can," Rosie said. "And love finds us when it's right."

CHAPTER 2

Welcome, Flash

No trumpets sound when the important decisions of our life are made. Destiny is made silently.

— Agnes de Mille

Once home, Flash seemed to fit in almost instantly. My brother, Ted, joked that he would since anything was preferable to the crack house he'd come from. Ted surmised that Flash was the result of a drug deal gone bad. Maybe, but all we really knew was that a car had pulled over to the side of the road, and a small dog dumped out.

How lives turn on tiny events that at the time are no more than the fabric of that hour or moment. What might have become of this tiny dog had Amy not been in the car behind? Would he have become easy fodder for predators? Would he have starved to death or died of dehydration in the harsh Arizona desert? For a while these thoughts became a preoccupation of mine, my heart constricting as I thought of the multitude of different possibilities, of a tiny, smooth-coated dachshund navigating the landscape — cacti quills and coyotes — all on his own.

"I mean what if it hadn't been you?" I sort of half-whimpered to Amy.

"Kay," my sister said patiently. "What if Caesar hadn't crossed the Rubicon, or what if George Washington hadn't crossed the Delaware?"

"What?"

"They did. That's the point."

"We'd be drinking tea and speaking with English accents?" I offered, a little late.

Amy sighed like I was the biggest moron ever to rewrite history.

"Maybe it's the accident of fate." I'd read it somewhere.

"Fate is no accident," Amy answered. "Any more than courage is or generosity or kindness. The point is that you wouldn't be worrying about him because you wouldn't know him. And whether fate is already written or not doesn't matter. We work with what is ... and accept what is."

I pondered this and realized that at some point after receiving the gift of Flash, it would perhaps serve me to let go of trying to understand; to accept the fact that no human will ever completely understand another, not a husband his wife, not a lover his beloved, not even a sibling his genetic analogue. Perhaps that's why we invent multiple gods who are capable of understanding, and perhaps the true partner is this god or goddess, the being with whom we will forever seek union, for isn't all love the search for oneness with something greater than ourselves?

When I said this to Amy, she answered back in one of her less sarcastic responses that yes, this was true but yet, paradoxically, the love we seek resides within us all, not outside of us. If we can but tap into it, if only for seconds at a time, we shift the paradigm. But I'm getting ahead of my story.

The neighborhood where Flash was dumped was one of those less-than-savory ones in Tucson known for harboring crack houses ("and odd, somewhat rubbery, conformationally incorrect, backyard-breeder, tiny dachshunds," Ted had said) — probably not the sort of neighborhood in which you'd want to raise your toddler.

Here in the gentle mountains of central Virginia, patrolling the yard for voles and moles, Flash must have felt he'd won the doggie lotto. He had a dog-door and could come and go from the house freely into his fenced backyard. There were flowering shrubs, fruit trees, and an old apple crate, one of the large ones that, upsidedown, served as a table of sorts. There were flowers and birds who I fed all year round. When my old bird feeder fell apart I'd begun construction on a new one, but all that stood was a large cross with one feeder hanging from it, and bells that I bought for each of the dogs. I hoped the neighbors didn't think I was trying to convert the birds to Christianity.

In later years there would be my Writing Room at the end of the yard, bordered by flower gardens. And there was a little pine tree I'd planted in the spot where Lauren had taken her last steps. I'd named the tree Lauren and will avoid mentioning Amy's comments on this particular topic. Flash loved that little tree. He would hunt for hours, rooting around the yard, then flop down, panting hard beneath Lauren. Other times he would roll on his back in the grass in joy. Sometimes he'd race in to where I sat working to tell me about his day.

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "Flash's Song"
by .
Copyright © 2015 Kay Pfaltz.
Excerpted by permission of Skyhorse Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Prologue ix

Chapter 1 Love 1

Chapter 2 Welcome Flash 9

Chapter 3 The Work Day 16

Chapter 4 Dachshund Life 21

Chapter 5 Brave Heart 28

Chapter 6 Chance Encounters 32

Chapter 7 Ineluctable Life 37

Chapter 8 Adventure 40

Chapter 9 Sasha 47

Chapter 10 Superman 50

Chapter 11 Madonna and Dachshund 56

Chapter 12 The Beginning of Change 60

Chapter 13 My Life 64

Chapter 14 Catalysts 71

Chapter 15 Crisis 77

Chapter 16 Grief 87

Chapter 17 Turning Toward the Light 99

Chapter 18 Finding a Cure 103

Chapter 19 Empathy 107

Chapter 20 The Journey Begins 111

Chapter 21 Realization 114

Chapter 22 The Decision Made 124

Chapter 23 Susie 136

Chapter 24 Heart Medicine 142

Chapter 25 Welcome to the World of Miracles 145

Chapter 26 Living the Shift 151

Chapter 27 Miracle of Love 160

Chapter 28 Thanksgiving 162

Chapter 29 Love Is the Answer 166

Chapter 30 Visualizing Christmas 171

Chapter 31 Winter 176

Chapter 32 Healing Continues 182

Chapter 33 Christmas 184

Chapter 34 The Miracles Expanding 188

Chapter 35 Seeing Mickey 191

Chapter 36 Flash Sees the Flowers Bloom 194

Chapter 37 Dual Realities 201

Chapter 38 Accepting Miracles 205

Chapter 39 Return 209

Chapter 40 Easter 216

Chapter 41 April 219

Chapter 42 Death 221

Chapter 43 The Silver Lining 229

Epilogue 237

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Flash's Song: How One Small Dog Turned into One Big Miracle 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a different kind of dog story, with a powerful theme of surrender, love and trust. It is also a departure from Kay’s first book about her beloved beagle Lauren. This book stars Flash, a miniature dachshund, who is diagnosed, in his thirteenth year of life, with a tumor growing rapidly on his spine. From here a journey of health and healing, as well as revelation begins. While no one has mentioned this fact, I saw within the pages of this beautiful book, that Flash was healing Kay as much as Kay was ‘healing’ Flash. Kay never attempts to say that she was the one who healed him; in fact quite the opposite. She only suggests she opened her heart, let go and let the universe do the work. Flash comes alive in the beginning chapters as a feisty and brave little smooth-haired dachshund, afraid of nothing...on the outside. But there is an emotional depth to little Flash and when he falls ill, unable to use his hind legs, we feel his confusion and pain deeply. As he heals, first walking then running, we rejoice with both him and Kay, and his two beagle sisters, in their small family of four. Flash’s Song is a story about the courage to confront the adversities we all encounter; it is about love, both human and canine, and the strength love gives us to go on. This is a book that dares to be deeply vulnerable and honest. I hope Flash’s Song will help inspire people to respond to the difficult events in their own lives with acceptance and grace. Reading it each night felt to me like, as Kay says, “the comfort of my morning cup of tea,” because there is a gentleness in its pages. There is also a lot of love and there is hope. Beautifully written, Flash’s Song is a must read for anyone seeking a humble, enlightened life filled with love.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Flash's Song" is a beautiful and well written book. It is a loving and heartfelt tribute to author Kay Pfaltz's beloved Dachshund, Flash, a little dog with a huge heart of gold. Flash came into Kay's life while she was still grieving the loss of Lauren, her cherished Beagle and soul mate. All that Kay knew about young Flash's previous life was that he had been dumped from a car at the side of a road. From the moment Kay took Flash home they became a family (a family that would later include two Beagle-mix "sisters" for Flash). Kay's love for Flash radiated from every page of the book in the tender way she recounted their life together. When Flash was 13 years old, he was diagnosed with a tumor on his spine and given only 3 weeks, at most, to live. Kay had always been open to alternative means of healing the body and mind and now sought such treatments for Flash, hoping such methods would give them more quality time together. And it did! The ending of this book was especially beautiful. Kay's sensitive retelling of the last days of Flash's life was truly emotional. After getting to know Flash through this book, I can't help but smile whenever I think of him. "Flash's Song" is a wonderful and inspiring book, reminding readers to keep their hearts open to the power that love and miracles have in healing. After reading "Flash's Song", check out "Lauren's Story - An American Dog in Paris" also by Kay Pfaltz. It's another book for dog lovers who don't see their dog as "just a dog" but as a cherished family member. Both books have left an everlasting impact on my being. Being a doggie "mom" myself, I am truly amazed at how much Kay's feelings and deep love for her dogs mirror mine for my own dog. Her words about Flash (and Lauren) could not express more poignantly my feelings for my own little guy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kay Pfaltz has written a charming and interesting book about the interaction between humans and animals while intertwining this with a philosophy of life. This book will keep you interested and will be one that you will keep coming back to. If you aren't a believer in animal communication, you will become one. Enjoy it slowly.
BlueRidgeWriter More than 1 year ago
In my opinion, Kay Pfaltz is brilliant: as an author, as a human being – one who fully understands what it means to be love, the deepest, most expansive kind that includes all life.  An artist of the highest moral and spiritual ranking, she offers this love so generously to the world through her writing drawn from her own experiences.   Flash’s Song is magnificent, beautifully written from the Heart of Love  within all, skillfully presented with a perfect combination of wisdom and humor.  This is a book to keep close, return to often and  give to everyone you care about.   Rita M. Reynolds Author of Blessing the Bridge and Ask the Cow Editor, laJoie, the Quarterly Journal
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have been extremely moved by Flash's Song and Kay's approach to life and the beauty and power of her words. Truly, it is one of my favorite books to have read--either as a narrator or simply reader--in memory, ever. I want to say what a privilege it was to narrate this book. I truly feel that the book changed my life...it certainly brought my relationship with my animals into new light. It was a singular and unforgettable experience, and I have narrated over 150 books in my career. I do not say these things lightly. Many of us yearn to live a spiritually connected life but we don't know how. The animals can show us the way and Ms. Pfaltz has the courage to attempt and beautifully give voice to a world we sometimes can glimpse, but don't know how to inhabit regularly. I believe she does. I never met Flash, but after reading his story...I will never forget him.