We've Only Just Begun

We've Only Just Begun
More Books Beyond Our Trilogy : We'll Be Filling All These Bookshelves!


The Most Important Lesson

Dogs are sent here to help humans learn to love and be loved. 
Sometimes we pay the price of being vulnerable 
but most of the time we get as much love back as we give.  
Sometimes more. 
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The Initial Disappointment

It was the perfect arrangement.  Kate had driven the 20 hours to meet Immy. She extended her stay in a small rustic cabin at Ma's Loma Cafe in Loma Montana. Brian Wood, Immy's owner, was willing to allow her to take Immy on a trial for the rest of the week. At the end of the week, Kate could decide whether or not she wanted to take Immy home.

Immy is lovely and sweet, but very timid. There was an episode on their first walk together.  Kate still has a scar on her hand from when they were walking along the river under the underpass. It seems a car drove by overhead and at that same moment Kate's foot struck a rough spot on the path and it all startled Immy so much that Immy bolted and pulled Kate down onto the gravel path. Kate got on her knees in front of Immy to talk with her; reassure her. She reached out to pet Immy and Immy bolted again. She caught Kate totally off guard and ended up dragging Kate several feet through the gravel.

"Wow," Kate exclaimed, startled and in pain. "I'm not sure this is going to work out." I was surprised that Kate seemed to feel so defeated after this incident. It was just one incident of a dog bringing it's old fear into the new situation. I understood Immy because Kate was strange to her and she had not had a chance to build up a level of trust. On the other hand Immy was strange to Kate as well, and she had not had a chance to build up a level of trust either.

Give it time Kate. Give it time.


We got off track with our story with the publication of my book "Jack McAfghan: Reflections on Life with my Master". The book now kind of has a life of its own. The orders are coming in and we can get back to telling our story.

Backtracking: I was assigned to be Immy's Guardian Angel and I was able to get Kate to drive to Montana to meet her. It was love at first sight. The first time she ushered Immy into the back of the car she said "C'mon Im!" like she had said it every day of her life.

That's how you know the dog is right for you. It has a strangely familiar feel. You don't always understand each other but it doesn't take as much work as it does with the others.  It's kind of like people. You just know when it feels right. The old comfortable shoe. The collar that feels better on than off.

She Made Everything Fun, Even the Stuff That was Scary

There was the time when we short sold our house and had to find a place to live. We found a nice place, but every time you move you have to adapt and sometimes you have to learn new things. She was a great teacher because even if I got nervous or scared, which wasn't very often, she was always very reassuring and she actually made the scary things seem fun. After awhile I found everything fun!


Don't Let The Memory Be Stronger Than You

by Kate McGahan
 The Side Yard

Just because I wrote a book doesn't mean that I am above my own sorrow and grief. I am just like you. We are just like each other when we grieve and I know when I tell you this story that your own story will come to mind. I apologize in advance, but just bringing the story into your mind will heal you a little bit more. If you're not ready to heal, then don't read any further.

I have a little side yard which is where I always took Jack in the mornings to do his "thing." He went in for surgery (for the removal of a rectal mass) on a Tuesday and during his 'recovery' period I took him to the side yard like we always did. But it wasn't like always. He tried to poop but he couldn't.  I won't go into detail, but I sat on the rocks that you see in the photo and I wept as I watched. It went on for three days.

I wouldn't go out into the yard after he passed; it bothered me too much. The memory was so strong that it took over the side yard. The memory was stronger than I was.

When I got Immy in early May, I started using the side yard again because it's really the only place we have shreds of grass around here. The first time I went out, it was really hard to be there. I couldn't stop thinking of him. I cried, I almost wept, again. The next time was a little better. Now, six weeks later, things have vastly improved. Jack is still "there" in The Yard In My Mind but every day it gets a little easier.
If we try to avoid the pain and the memories by avoiding a part of our life (or part of our property in this case) we will not progress. We will remain STUCK at the place where we started avoiding. We will never move beyond our grief. There was a very good book written years ago called "What You Feel You Can Heal". You cannot heal without going through the torrent of feelings that comes from facing reality and letting go of what no longer is.

I believe Jack is still beside me.  I need to remove him from that memory because it does not serve him either. He is happy and healthy and strong and he is full of light and love. There's no room in him for anything else but these things.

Jack in the Side Yard One Month Before He Passed
All is well.

A Gem of a Review for "Jack McAfghan"


Is Jack McAfghan a Controversial Book?


Dear Reader - Thank you for writing. I appreciate your thoughts as you read Jack's book. 

I understand your discomfort with the use of the term "just a dog" when Jack refers to himself.  Jack refers to himself as 'just a dog' because he is humble. He always knew how important he was to me -- as important as a brother or a husband would be. In our lives together I never referred to him as A Dog or My Dog -- he was simply JACK, because a definition of what he was to me does not exist in this world.  Even the word "dog" seems an unfair label. But we must live with labels in our society. It's what people understand and expect.  We know that there will be any number of people reading this book who believe that dogs are 'just' dogs. This is merely a strategy to reach those people as they move through the pages of Jack's life and ultimately find out that dogs are NOT just dogs. "Just a dog" is simply my writer's tactic to get on common ground with some readers.  

As for the role of 'Master' in my dog's life, I don't particularly care for the term either, in describing my relationship with Jack.  I use the term "master" in the book specifically to create metaphors for the concept that there is a higher level of power over the world that we live in. Some call it God, some call it Creator, some refer to The Universe or Divine Life Force. Man holds dominion over animals and Something holds dominion over man. Jack and I could only speak of what we personally believe in -- and what followers of Christianity tend to believe: that we are to be obedient followers of a (hopefully) loving God and yes, Master. I don't know what the Atheists will think when they read the book; I think the Agnostics will have a better time of it. 

Jack puts a Disclaimer in his Preface that states: "What you are about to read is my personal experience. It may not be true for everyone. What I have come to learn is this: whatever we believe to be true is what is true."  Jack refers to the scientific work of Einstein who has proven that 'We are energy and that energy cannot die, although it can often change form.'  Life must go on in some way, shape, or form beyond the grave. This is all we know. We know not what form it really takes. 

I grew up Catholic; now consider myself a spiritualist. I have studied philosophy and spirituality for over two decades. I believe in some way that we create our own reality by what we believe. I, like you, believe we need to believe in something that comforts us in order to survive and thrive. Bits and pieces of what I believe are scattered throughout Jack's book. I have 30 years of hospice work behind me. I have known a dozen or more people who have had near death experiences. I have seen people die many times. I have been with them. I have silently observed and processed death. I have seen magic happen in families and relationships in the final moments. I have seen the common yet intriguing phenomenon of people who see and hear and feel their deceased loved ones nearby as they themselves prepare to leave this life. 

You mention the 'mirror' effect. I, too, believe everyone (perhaps everyTHING) is our mirror. My next book is going to go into that in detail. That said, I am no "expert' on death, for who would be who hasn't died yet?  I believe in immortality and if I get to the end and it's just The End, well, I sure had a better time in life because I believed in something more. 

FYI, I'm not being defensive or trying to show you how much I know. There is no 'attitude' about anything here, although you wouldn't know that from just reading these black words typed onto a page. I, perhaps like you, enjoy the challenge of writing how I feel, the way I think, putting into words things I never have expressed before. You are a good writer, for your words are thoughtful and powerful and you have created this challenge for me here today. I'm not sure how effective I am with answering your questions. I'm still reeling from Jack's death, my Dad's death the following day and where all of this came from and why I was driven to write this book.

Jack came to me one night and I wrote seven pages that came pouring out the end of my pen. I don't know how it happened. I know that he was there. I can't explain it, the knowing of it. I am a natural born cynic so the fact that I couldn't rationalize my experience was interesting. It was out of my control. The concepts that came to me through him, many were foreign to me.  I read what I had written over and over and later it began to take hold and make sense as I integrated it with my career and observations over the years.

My goals with this book:

(1) To teach people that animals deserve more credit, honor and respect than many two-leggeds give to them. Keep in mind that in the Bible, only the humans were kicked out of Eden's paradise, not the animals.

(2) To help people to value the process of their own lives and to realize that there is more going on than the tangible world they have built around themselves.

(3) To plant the seeds which help a reader to believe -- or to renew their faith -- that there might be something more to believe in. 

"We don't have our precious ones to hold, to walk with or talk to, except in our minds," you say. There are those who would say that There is nothing OUT THERE; that 'All That Is' exists only in our mind.  If this is true, then you still have your precious one, don't you?  : )  


Letter to Jack: REX

Here's a photo of the lovely Rex and his best friend, Donna.


He's Been Gone From Here Almost a Year

Have you experienced the loss of a pet and the loss of a dear family member within days, 
or even hours, of each other?

When I crossed the Rainbow Bridge in the wee hours of August 1, 2014, it was no 
surprise to me that Kate's father would be crossing with me nine hours later. 
When he lived on the earth, he really had no use for dogs. He didn't understand that 
I was a thinking, feeling being just like him. The moment that he crossed over, 
he became just like me! He recognized who I really was. He saw who he really was too. 
We met at the edge of the Rainbow and we walked over it together.

Sometimes it happens this way. None of us can do it alone. The moment we leave 
this world, God makes sure that we are not alone. Not ever.


Thank you Joanne

Thank you to everyone who writes a review for us on Amazon. It lets people know that this book is worth the read.  


Destiny Plays Itself Out

She loved Immy in an instant. Immy was small, calm and beautiful. Knowing the situation, I knew that the breeder had not been willing to relinquish Immy until this very moment.  He wasn't supposed to. It was part of The Plan. Had this played out any differently, Kate would not have made the choices she made leading up to this point. I think she might have taken Georgie home.  Or then again she might not have. 

I waste no time on What Would Have Been because what happened was what was Meant To Be. Most things in life are meant to be. It needed to play out this way because I was assigned to this mission long before Kate even started looking at dogs. I needed to help her to heal and I needed to help her to find her next friend. The best friend for her to learn the lessons that she would need to move forward towards becoming all that she can be. 



Meeting the Family at Shining Mountain

Taz (L) and Georgie (R)
There was a two year old boy by the name of Georgie there who needed a home. They spent some time with this quiet, big, gentle soul. He was obedient, easy-going, a perfect gentleman. They went for a walk on the leash and he was easy to guide. Then they sat inside on the couch with him. He was calm and receptive to her touch; and so soft! He was a very very sweet boy. It seemed perfect somehow.... but somehow it wasn't. Kate didn't understand; she didn't know what was missing. 

The first little black pup she had seens was long gone; now living in Ohio. The little black sibling girls were all gone too. She had driven all these miles, all these hours...

"I love Georgie," she said to Brian, "and I wish I could tell you that he feels like the right dog to me..." She couldn't put a finger on it. 

You're supposed to have Immy; you're not meant to have Georgie. We're almost there. 

"Well," Brian replied, "there is one other girl that I'm willing to have you take a look at."  

Enter Immy. 


Will Anyone Go Home With Kate and Joey?

While the girls hung out in the shade of the trucks, Kate and Joey went into the yard with Brian to meet the boys. Oh it was so much fun! So many beautiful high energy dogs. We met each and every one of them and they were each beautiful in their own way.

It's kind of hard to see in the picture, but one arrow points to Georgie and the other points to Immy. They are (ironically?) standing very close together on opposite sides of the fence. They were meant to be. Immy was supposed to be there to get Kate's attention. Kate was supposed to pick Immy instead. But Kate didn't even notice Immy.  

"This is Georgie." said Brian, introducing them. 
No. I kept saying. Not him. Not Georgie.  I said it the same way I said  No, not him about my brother when she came to the puppy mill to take one of us home. You don't want him. Look around. 

There's someone else who wants you.

Afghan Hound Heaven

Less than a mile away from Ma's Loma Cabin was Shining Mountain Afghans. The next morning, she and Joey drove over to meet Brian and his wife Laura and to see their Afghan Hound family. She had viewed many of the dogs on Brian's Facebook pages and it was exciting to think of them Coming to Life. She had seen the distant red farmhouse in photos but it was really fun to see it come into three dimensional view. With eighty acres of invisible fencing, it was bordered by the river with rolling hills and nature as far as the eye could see. It certainly seemed to be a slice of God's country.

But that was just the beginning. She pulled into the driveway and entered another world. She found herself in Afghan Hound Dog Heaven. 
The House and Welcoming Committee

Those beautiful girls! 

 Anybody else coming?

 I think these are Punkin, Sunshine, Cat and Immy

Arriving in Loma

They rode into town and checked into a little cabin at Ma's Loma Cafe.  It was small but it was perfect somehow. 
  It was a new freestanding cabin with a big wood pole bed.
This is Joey on the bed with our blankets and pillows. We always traveled with our own blankets and pillows for comfort and as a courtesy to the host.
There were other dogs in the yard outside.

Central Campus which was also home to the Loma Cafe Hounds
This guy was real sweet.

People will drive an hour from the city of Great Falls just to have dinner at Ma's. The breakfasts were great too, the coffee was free and she always took a side order of bacon back to the room for Joey. She learned by doing that for me.

There were lots of places nearby to explore like the sleepy little town, nearby sunlit farmlands, a path along the Marias River and even a yard full of buffalo roaming across the street.


Timing Is Everything

She couldn't go to Montana because she had to finish writing my book. She told herself, "When I'm done with Jack's book, I'll go to Montana and get that girl. I'll go get Miss Green Collar." 

Several weeks passed and the day ultimately arrived when she learned that someone else had bought Dark Green Collar. She was surprised at her strong reaction. She didn't even possess Dark Green Collar and yet she cried as if she had lost her. The power of her emotions surprised her, but I know why she cried like that. She cried because she wasn't finished grieving the loss of me. When someone has an exaggerated emotional reaction to something in the present, it's usually because they haven't resolved something in their past.

Kate simply wasn't ready for another dog. She had to work through her grief... and she needed to finish my book!  Meanwhile Dark Green's two sisters, Red Collar and Blue Collar, were still available as well as an older boy. She mulled this over in the days to come.

Click Here to see more Shining Mountain Afghans

Kate finished the book on May 1st and a week later she was on the road with little Joey, our terrier mix, off to visit Shining Mountain Afghans. It was a 20+ hour road trip each way.

I went right along with them to Montana, but it's funny she didn't seem to be looking for me as much there. She was thinking about Dark Green Collar. She was growing. She was finally moving forward. It was a lot more fun for me to be with her when she was this way.

Here's Joey all packed up aboard the Enterprise Rental Car Starship, Headed for Montana
She was very disappointed to learn that Miss Red Collar and Miss Blue Collar were gone by the time she got there. All of the girls were gone, after ten months of not being claimed.  She was very disappointed.  

"Why. Why did I come all this way?" 

I knew why.  

She didn't know it yet, but God and I, well, we had another plan for her.