“As the Lodge Turns” Episode 31: Remembering Pele

On this episode of “As the Lodge Turns”…

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Last week we lost a dear friend.

When Scarlett told me that Pele had passed away the day before, I felt cold and numb. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. The wise, kind beagle I had only just met, gone…?

“I confess, we were not close, but I was shocked when I heard the news,” Scarlett said, touching her nose to the fence.

“I don’t understand it. He was right there, where you’re standing now, with that little twinkle in his eye. He can’t be…” I began, legs quivering as I sat down.

Scarlett’s chilly gaze seemed to thaw as she stared back at me. “Forgive me…I know he meant a lot to you, Bing.”

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She lowered her head, studying her paws with furrowed brows.

I’m not the only hurting…

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“He meant a lot to everyone at the Lodge,” I said, rising to my feet. “I think we’d all feel better if we took some time to celebrate Pele’s life. And I’m sure that’s what he would want us to do.”

Scarlett lifted her face, and for a moment her pained expression shifted to one of determination.

“I will organize a memorial event that he would be proud of!”

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Now, one week from that terrible day, all the dogs at the Lodge gather in the yard to remember and celebrate our time with Pele. Scarlett is hosting his memorial, and I think he would smile if he could see the effort she’s made to honor his life.

“Silence, everyone! There will be sufficient time for idle chatter once we have concluded the memorial! Now, one by one, you may regale us with your most treasured memories of Pele,” Scarlett declares, stepping an inch to the side.

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“I’ll go first!” Daisy says with an eager bark, rushing to the front of the pack. “I’ll never forget how he taught me to track down messes with my nose! Thanks to him, I can find any dirt pile within a mile radius! Because of Pele, I can get dirty anytime, anywhere!”

The crowd bursts into laughter at Daisy’s recollection.

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“Oh! Oh! I have one,” Cocoa Bean says, trotting past Scarlett. “Because I’m so little, I have trouble getting into trashcans. Whenever he saw me struggling, Pele would knock them over for me! Wasn’t that sweet of him?”

“He did that for me too!” says a voice from the crowd.

“No way! Me too!” another voice chimes in.

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“Pele was always the best at finding hidden food! It was like magic,” Max adds, grinning at the memory. “He was also great at getting humans to share their treats with him!”

Other dogs nod their heads in unison, and I can’t help but smile at the thought that Pele gave lessons to all of us at the Lodge. He was blessed with countless talents, but instead of keeping them to himself, he gladly shared them with everyone.

Staring at the dogs gathered to honor his life, I find myself face to face with the spirit of his generosity.

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“Yeah! He’d make his eyes really big, like this,” Max says, trying to mimic Pele’s signature expression.

“How disrespectful!” Scarlett cries in a shrill bark. “If you cannot do it properly, please refrain from doing it at all!”

Suddenly, one by one, the other dogs follow Max’s example until a sea of wide, glistening eyes surrounds us. Scarlett begrudgingly joins in, and surprises all of us with the best “Sad Face” we’ve seen since Pele’s!

“You were holding out on us!” Max says, his face breaking into a grin.

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“Hmph! I did learn from the master!” Scarlett announces, smiling a little as she turns her nose up at us.

And Pele thought she didn’t like him…

“Bing, you haven’t had the opportunity to speak. Would you like to say a few words?” Scarlett asks, nodding to a spot at the front of the crowd.

Fear fills my stomach, and for a moment, time slows to a stop.

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What can I say? How can I possibly do justice to your memory, Pele? You were beyond the words I have to describe you… I’m sure another dog would do a better job than I could…

Wait a minute! What am I thinking? Isn’t this the attitude I was trying to change? Pele, you were the one who told me that I’m good enough just as I am!

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I laugh a little as I clear a path to the front of the crowd.

Even if they’re not the perfect words, they’re my words. And I hope they honor you…

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“Thank you for gathering, everyone! I know he’d be happy to know he was so popular! We all have our own memories of time spent with Pele, but listening to your stories, I’ve noticed they all have something in common. He was always, always trying to help us. Whether we were too short to knock over trashcans, or too critical of our self-worth, or not getting enough treats from humans, he just wanted to make us happy! And even though we can’t see him for a while, I believe that the things he taught us will remain. He was a wise beagle who loved to share, and we should follow in his footsteps! But they’re big paws to fill, so let’s all work together…”

This is for you, Pele.

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I let out the best bay I can muster, and as it reverberates in my chest, I swear I’m not alone.

The other dogs lend me the strength of their voices, forming a chorus loud enough to reach him, wherever he may be. The sound of our mingled bays rises in puffs of cold smoke, carrying our message into the sunny sky.

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Pele, can you hear us? We’re going to spread your kindness to every dog we meet!

Scarlett and I exchange a smile as our voices trail off, and for a moment, I think I can hear his bay in the distance…

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…to be continued…