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Down Darby Lane

Oh, For the Love of Dog

Just weeks ago, Blue, the treasured canine companion of Bob Bickford, my Facebook friend, and an accomplished author, died of complications of old age. A master of the written word, he expressed his grief simply yet profoundly with mental images that let us feel his loss:

“I never met anyone who just loved living the way he did. He loved his baths, and he loved the snow. When he got a treat, he took it to his bed so he could lay down and really enjoy the hell out of it. He loved hot dogs the most, but every meal he got served was delicious. He loved the cool tile floor. He loved sleeping, usually under my desk. He claimed to hate cats, but he just loved barking. He stayed as sweet as sugar, every moment of every day of his life.” Bob Bickford

It takes a great deal of grieving and acceptance to move beyond the loss of a dog that claims so much of our love. I suspect people who are not so owned by love of dog may find this bond hard to accept. See it as frivolous in light of overwhelming tragedies we witness in everyday life. I thought about this after Blue’s death and while gazing at my own best friend, Murphy, who was, as usual, gazing back into my eyes. So, here are my conclusions based on personal bias and legit research:

On the companion level, a dog is constant, fairly predictable, affectionate, protective, and not very demanding. Our dogs love us if we are crabby, smelly, sick, neurotic, or too busy to play. We grow to know their distinct personalities and appreciate them for their quirks and predictability. Each is unique in behavior and traits, and we can largely trust we know them as authentic individuals. The pandemic has perhaps heightened awareness of the dog as best friend since we’ve spent an inordinate amount of time together. Mine, Murphy, sits on his own office chair next to me as I’m writing this - as he does every day.

He’s only eight years old, but nonetheless, I mourn and hold him close as I read Facebook messages saying goodbye to dogs lost by people I’ve never met. I wondered why I do this. After all, I never think about the death of my children because natural rule is that they will outlive us. But the longevity limits of dogs are known and even breed-specific. We are forced to contemplate that time in the future when we must say goodbye. And that hurts a lot - even years before it happens. As it will.

I love my dog. You love your dog. And they (at least their ancient ancestors) designed our relationship to be that way. Seriously. Research into the evolution of dogs from wolves about 40,000 years ago shows that ancient humans did not simply domesticate wolves. The Director of the Duke University Canine Center calls it “Survival of the friendliest.” He says we never tamed wolves. Instead, their brains developed to maximize their relationship with early hunter-gathers and human groups that followed. Princeton University researchers report there are specific canine genes that evolved to develop people-friendly behaviors like hunting, fetching, protecting, and the ability to recognize clues from their humans.

There’s plenty of evidence that bonded, deep relationships with our dogs are far more than fanciful thinking and anthropomorphism. Forty thousand years ago, dogs were already on their way to hacking the human brain. We only think we’re in charge. For folks who don’t understand why dog owners (maybe a misnomer because I think Murphy owns me) grieve so deeply, I hope this bit of evolutionary science provides some understanding of the inescapable bond between us.

If you’re a dog parent, you already understand that your heart (and brain) have been hijacked. It’s not entirely your fault, though it is your responsibility. And it’s one we seek, knowing full well that one day in a foreseeable future, we will shed a river of tears, say goodbye, but never forget our best friend ever.

Darby Lee Patterson


Thanks for spending your time with me. You inspire me every week to remember, sort out thoughts and memories, and write - no matter what else might be demanding my attention. Please let me know your thoughts and responses!

This week I want to bring your attention to an Indie writer whose genre is far afield from mine - it's a journey into the paranormal world of ... Gasp ... Vampires! The book gets enthusiastic reviews like this one: "Imagine a mix between "Dexter" and "Interview with a Vampire" set in modern times and you start to get an idea of just how great this book is!" You can get this eBook on Sale HERE!

Mathias: Cutthroat

by Kari Shuey (Author), Angela Perry (Author)


Friends and Readers,

A note about most of us, for better and worse, in the Arts. I think we long to share our thoughts and creations - and without you, we are lonely. Imagine, you wrote a beautiful piece of music and no one but you (and perhaps your cat) ever got to hear it. Or painted a picture that no one else but you ever saw, or wrote a story that no one but you read. Sharing is everything for people in the arts and your support is fundamental to the continued creativity of all artists. So, Thank you! 

Hey! Check out this awesome article by popular columnist Ed Goldman - it's about moi! Also subscribe to his clever, witty and smart blog!  

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My Mountain Mystery

My book has gotten fab reviews on Amazon! I am so excited readers like the characters, the setting, the plot - minus lots of graphic violence. 

If you are fond of 'cozy' mysteries please read The Song of Jackass Creek. Check out Reviews HERE.

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Short Story Collection 

Twisted is - twisted! And Gypsy's Wedding - well, you just have to be there!  Click on the books to see more ... 

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Sample Amazon Reviews

This is an excellent writer!

Darby Patterson is truly a talented writer. She describes this little town sweetly without boring the reader with unimportant detail, and her descriptions are vivid. She also develops her characters fully through conversation and action so the reader becomes acquainted with the main players and can form pictures of them early in the book. Her characters' thoughts, interactions, and past activities combine to portray the culture of Redbud throughout the story, and the story itself is creative and holds surprises along the way. I too hope Ms Patterson continues to share her talents with us!

Sondra Jensen

Awaiting the next installment

An invitation to linger in this vanishing part of California which has so much history is writ on every page of this book. I've visited places like Redbud with a creek burbling in the background as gentle breezes sough through the pines and cedars. I've found them quaint and rich with fascinating local lore and history. Jesse, as publisher of the local weekly is very nicely sketched, the authors background as a journalist comes through clean and clear in developing him. This small California mining and logging town scrabbling to hang on, I liked very much as a setting. I wouldn't mind sitting down with Jesse and having a beer and help him solve his next mystery. The test of a good book is whether you'd be willing to read it again, later. This book passes that test and I can't wait for the next installment.

Jack Howard


Please let this be the first of a series!

Wonderful book; adult without being ‘R’ rated, complex story and well developed characters. The people of ‘Redbud’ ring true and, as a native Californian, the lumber, real estate and politics are spot on. I hope this is the beginning of a series because the author has created characters you want to know better.

D. Holmes

My other passion
Sculpting for bronze - See more HERE
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