Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist, was editor of three Arkansas dailies and headed the master’s journalism program at Ohio State University. Email him at email@example.com. Mike Masterson
Philosopher Joseph Campbell advised those of us seeking fulfillment to seek our bliss. I can testify that his advice also applies to dogs. If our little taco terrier Benji has a blissful season of the year, it must be autumn when the air has cooled enough to make his furry coat comfy and most of the leaves have collected in windblown piles reaching his chest. I watched the other day as, wearing his black and gold “Sheriff” shirt, he dove headlong into a pile, rolled over onto his back kicking leaves joyfully into the air, then laid still for a moment on the cushion they provided, staring into a blue sky. He was clearly experiencing freedom and fulfillment in the fragrance only new fallen leaves provide. It was his bliss in this moment that caused me to laugh out loud at the sight of such simple canine happiness. After a while, he began to roll over and over in the brown crunchy bed, obviously enjoying the sound they made. I realized most human children are equally blissful when they plunge laughing into small mountains of leaves. I’m not surprised. After all, dogs are considered humankind’s best friends. Later, on an afternoon walk, he and Jeanetta crested a grassy hill when he immediately flopped onto his side and began to roll. Reaching the bottom about 15 yards away, he hopped up, sprinted back up and repeated his roll into bliss. Jeanetta and I have long believed Benji could likely have been human during a previous life in this strange world. He doesn’t act like any dog either of us has ever owned. And he knows and understands far too much about us and life itself to not have been here before. Perhaps other dog-owning readers have similar pets that defy what’s considered normal dog behavior you’d like to share with me. For instance, I watched in amazement on social media the other day as a terrier in another country weighing about 40 pounds and carrying a basket in its teeth made his way through an outdoor farmers market. He would stop to place a paw on one selection of fruit or vegetable after another as the various merchants placed his selection in the basket and collected their money, leaving change. If he wanted more food, he kept tapping his paw until collecting just the right amount, then strolled to the next stand until he’d made four or five stops. At one point an orange toppled out and he gently picked it up and put it back into the basket. Then fulfilled, with tail high and wagging, he blissfully trotted back home with his produce. MORE GOOD NEWS Reader Max Ryan, who long suffered from Parkinson’s-related tremors, has added some important information about treating that dread disease to my column from last week. “Some time ago I wrote you a note concerning essential (familial) tremors and the cure for it developed by Insightec (Insightec.com),” he said. He told me the FDA approved the procedure for his left side, which was done on Nov. 9 at the University of Kansas Medical Center. “The word needs to be passed to the millions of sufferers of tremors. My own daughter and son-in-law, both doctors in Rogers/Bentonville, had not heard of this. They only knew of the mechanical implant in the brain that doesn’t work very well. “I’m sorry I had to wait until I’m 75 to have this procedure, but better late than never. I’m now 100 percent steady on my left side and 98 percent steady on the right. Max said the procedure “isn’t for the faint of heart. But the ablation of problem brain cells fixes the problem. If you’d like more information go to their website.” CITY RETREATS The city of Wauwatosa, Wis., is “clarifying” its ridiculous stance on Christmas decorations after some serious backlash. An internal memo sent by city administrators Nov. 9 asked employees to refrain from using red and green colors for decoration and anything religious in public spaces around their offices. The Liberty Counsel, a national litigation and public policy organization on First Amendment religious liberties, called foul. In a letter to Wauwatosa’s city administrator, it demanded the immediate retraction of that holiday missive, calling it an “unconstitutional ban” on Christmas symbols and decorations and an “anti-Christmas purge.” Liberty Counsel’s letter further explained the First Amendment protects public employees from being forced to violate or suppress their faith on the job. Suddenly city officials claimed their memo wasn’t really meant to be a requirement; they just wanted employees to consider all community members before deciding how to decorate public spaces during the holidays. By considering all members of the community, I also must assume that would be inclusive of any pagans, satanists and child molesters. I always believed Christmas was a Christian celebration of Christ’s birth. Now go out into the world, decorate with all the red and green for Christmas that suits your fancy while treating everyone you meet exactly like you want them to treat you.