Enlightened Conflict

autumnal winter-like memories

November 28th, 2013

border collie winter



In an odd quirk to weather patterns we actually had some snow flurries early yesterday morning <very odd for this time of the year if not any winter>.


The snow flurries made me think of my two favorite border collies of all time <two favorite dogs of all time>.


Ginger and Tigger


Ginger <the world’s greatest dog> and Tigger <the world’s second greatest dog>.



I chuckled a little because I know why I thought of them … because I was with both of them <at separate times> when they saw snow for the first time.


Ginger was a female border collie.

Probably the smartest sweetest hyperactive dog I have ever known.

She went bounding out into the snow immediately thinking the falling snow were things to catch and play with. She ran around non stop trying to catch one snowflake after another in her mouth. I am not really sure she even knew there was snow on the ground with her relentless focus on the falling snow.


Tigger was a male border collie. The falling snow meant nothing to him. All he saw was a white blanket on the ground which he was 100% positive was hiding something he needed to uncover. He ran around using his nose as a snowplow until the snow started covering his head and eyes. Would stop. Shake it off. Look around to make sure he hadn’t lost me. And then started all over.

And just to show he may not have been the sharpest border collie knife in the drawer … I could throw snowballs all day long and he would chase them and catch them and bring them back to me to throw again … only to find when he went to drop it for me there was nothing there.



I still laugh over all of this.

Good memories.

Great dogs.



tigger and snowBoth having grown up in warm weather … the first cold weather would almost make them exponentially hyper <if anyone ever wants to know what that is like for a border collie just watch a Tasmanian Devil cartoon> … for about 20 minutes.


Juts a short period.

Then all of a sudden they would realize “hey … I am cold … and I don’t like this.”

<border collies are so smart you actually hear them tell you this>

And both of them would go running to the door of the house looking to go back in for warmth.


I was always slightly amazed that they would choose warmth over activity <until they got back into the house when they would immediately start looking for something to do>.



The snow flurries were just that … just flurries. No snow on the ground. All that was left was a couple of good memories and a good chuckle or two.border collie companion



And don’t get me started on piles of raked leaves and what border collies do to them.



It is amazing what good friends good pets are. It is also amazing proof that anyone, and any pet, can be an architect of Life.

life, love, alone and togetherness

February 14th, 2011

“One day you will ask me what I love more, you or my life, and when I say my life you will walk away from me without knowing that you are my life.”


Ah. Valentine’s Day.

One of my favorite days of the year (yeah … I am a diehard romantic).

It may seem like a constructed event and day, but who cares.

First. It has a significant role in that it helps the general male population not be asses all the time. Using some advertising industry lingo I think of Valentine’s Day as sort of an “aided awareness” event for guys.

Most guys stumble around through life and relationships kinda thinking they need to do something for a ‘loved one’ but unless tripped by their significant other never really do anything.  And then Valentine’s Day comes along and it is ‘game on.’

That is aided awareness at its best.

Second. Valentine’s Day should remind you of the awesomeness of togetherness.


I have spent the day together, alone and semi-together (think long distance apart).

But the day itself also serves as a reminder to us (well … at least this one lifelong bachelor) about some things.  Love.  Companionship. And being alone versus loneliness.

I know I don’t think much about loneliness despite often being alone. And valentine’s day doesn’t really make me feel lonely because I have been so fortunate in my life with regard to the women in my life I tend to take the day, if I am not ‘together’ with someone, to think back on the times I was together with someone and how great it was (and how great they were).

But it does make me think about life and being alone.

Oddly loneliness and being alone really only seem to intersect in life through success.  Yeah.  Success.

Cause when success in life does come along and you don’t have someone to share it with … well … it seems to mean a lot less. Okay.  Sometimes almost nothing in the scheme of things (I know … that is harsh & extreme but it seems to capture the essence & truth of the thought).

I have a good life and a fairly successful career.  Certainly had my share of great life and career moments.  So I feel qualified in judging this thought I am sharing.

I do know that I can describe some of the big moments in my career and still have difficulty describing the heights of emotion one feels. Your heart almost explodes. It’s like how you hold your breath watching that USA gymnast in the Olympics for their entire routine and when they stick the ending flawlessly you want to shout and jump and down for them.  Only it’s exponentially bigger because it is you.  It’s personal.


Maybe 4 minutes later (absolutely less than 5 minutes) there is a slightly unsettling silence that overcomes you.

Yes. In less than 250 seconds you can suddenly go from feeling the extremest high of highs to facing the harsh realization that there is no one to share it with. And that isn’t a low … it is just an emptiness.  An empty space.

Oh sure, there are family and friends.

But it’s not the same.

Because success isn’t really about congratulations or having a cheering section because that stuff I can do all by my lonesome.

In the end the victory is slightly hollow because there is nothing … absolutely nothing … better than being able to share the moment with someone who means the world to you. And without someone, well, I guess it just potentially trickles into nothingness.

Look. There are no excuses on this one.

It is easy to suggest work gets in the way of togetherness as workdays often turn into work nights and working weekends and your social life soon becomes something on your work list that you never seem to get done.

But it isn’t just work.  Its life.  I saw a friend yesterday and he said “I just didn’t have time.”  I suggested it was actually “when I had the time it just wasn’t the right time to do that.’

We sometimes become a slave to life and all the things we need to do. So when you actually do have time … whatever else you have to do (or want to do) comes down to timing (i.e., what do I feel like doing at that time). And some really good things just get passed over not because you didn’t have time but rather because it just wasn’t what you were inspired to do within that free time.

Ok.  Back to alone and togetherness.

I choose how I live my life so I am not complaining in this post.

And I am not one of those people who say there is no time or the energy to invest into a relationship.

Because bottom line it’s really not about wanting something (or wanting it bad enough) because if that right person shows up … you make time.

Chicken or egg I am not sure but it is what it is. All I really know is that it is amazing how time expands when you find that someone you want to be together with. There is no such thing as ‘not enough time.’

Here is the harsh truth.

“I’m too busy” people are one of two things – either selfish (putting everything in their own life ahead of any other person) or uninspired (no one has sparked the time expansion life postulate to make it happen).


It took me awhile to figure that last sentence out by the way.

And I think that is what love is kinda all about.

I am pretty sure life is not about people finding balance between life, career and love. Why? Because I tend to believe true love forces balance. True love creates balance in your life. You don’t “make time” for true love. Time is always there for that kind of love.

So I guess the point of all this is that it is days like Valentine’s Day that remind me that being together is awesome.

And if you have that special someone and it takes Valentine’s Day to make you step up to the plate to tell them how special they are  … then, well, step up and do it.


And while you do that … maybe take a second and think about those little success moments you have had in life and how awesome it was that in that moment you had someone to share it with.  Cause in the end those are truly the “valentine’s day” days. They just don’t have the chocolate and the roses and stuff.


To all my past valentine’s … thanks, you were always there “… to double the joys and halve the griefs.”

Happy Valentine’s Day.

So. I received a death certificate in the mail.

February 17th, 2010

As I plucked out all the junk mail from my mail box the other day I almost threw away a letter from a pet cemetery assuming it was simply a solicitation. Instead the envelope contained Tigger’s certificate of death highlighting the fact his remains were interred in a country setting with other pets. With this little slip of paper a lot of things came crashing back into my pea like brain.

Tigger and Bruce working in the office

The first thing was a feeling of selfishness. Did I not honor what Tigger truly meant to me after 15 years by simply leaving him at the vet? Should I have buried him? Did I do the right thing to have as his only memory a slip of paper rather than an urn or a grave somewhere?


The second was the thought of whether he realized how much he mattered to me.

Did he realize that I wasn’t disposing of him but rather simplifying the ‘letting go’ process.

Aw shit.

I don’t know.

After being shaken a little by this little slip of paper I took a moment to recognize neither one of us were ones to dwell on anything. In this situation the owner took on the characteristic of the dog and the dog took on the characteristic of the owner. We were at one on this issue.

We took the good and the bad as simply a moment in time and moved on.


I would like to believe he would have wanted his ending to be just another moment, simply the closing of a door, rather than a more drawn out ceremony. In the end our ceremony was a brief loving moment between a guy and his dog. I still miss the sometimes goofy but best friend I called Tigger.

Tigger snoozing


The Tigger legacy

With that said.

This little slip of paper made me think about what I would like his legacy to be (beyond great memories with aunts & uncles).


If I had the opportunity to create a campaign for pet adoption or the wonders of owning a pet I would use my experience with Tigger to create the campaign. I don’t mind what has been done so far. The adoption campaign using Sarah McLachlan’s song was nice in a heart wrenching way.


I still believe it slightly misses the mark (at least from a current owner’s perspective).

Owning a pet is truly a maddening joy not just heart wrenching. The tug of war between who is the master of the relationship can drive you through the roof and yet the moments of companionship are overwhelmingly rewarding.

And through it all it is the pet that dictates the relationship.


For it is in their loyalty and devotion that we pet owners will step up to the plate time and time again to speak out for how much having a pet can add to your life.

tigger and snow

With all that said here is what I would do.

I would build a campaign from the perspective of the pet (I will use my Tigger as a reference point).

And I have the song.

Throughout this song envision everything from a border collie’s perspective (or your own pet which is the true test of a campaign). It is in his or her voice talking to you (the owner or prospective owner).

You are getting a glimpse of what they see in you and their lives as a partner in life with you.

It includes the moments when they are straining at the edge of your patience and you are sharp with them. The moment when he was at the edge of the field wanting to chase that one tantalizing squirrel and yet you called him back. The moments you had to leave him alone for a long day at work and he sits there staring at the door awaiting your return. And the moments of joy in togetherness.

You know in their heads they have to believe it could be easier but in their love and devotion to you (their owner) they will walk through fire for you and to be with you if you need them.


The song is Ginny Owens “If you want me To.” A beautiful song. Probably one of the most underrated love songs of all time (although I believe it is truly about her relationship with God).

That’s it.

That little slip of paper made me think about my buddy again. And once again reminded me how much he meant to me, my life and how he could continue to inspire me to create things in his memory.

tigger after running stairs

and then there was one.

January 27th, 2010

Well.border collie companion

My border collie Tigger got me off the hook.

I am afraid I was selfish with my dog. I didn’t want to let him go. As he has for almost 15 years he did what was best for me and took care of me … as best buddies seem to know how to do.

He passed away in his sleep last night.

And in the morning there was just one.




My dog, a border collie named Tigger, would have been 15 next month.

He was having more and more senior moments.

On murky days he sometimes lost me when I walked 15 or 20 feet away. He panicked but when he finally spotted me (after I have been yelling “over here” and waving my arms like a windmill) he perked up and immediately ambled over towards me.

On murky days he woke up and tried drinking from his food bowl (until he realized there was no water there).


On his less stable days (which happened more often) he sometimes fell. (and a good gust of wind could knock him over)


On his really good days you could see what he wanted to do in his eyes and we would go out and act like when he could actually do it.



A couple of nights ago sitting on my floor he fell sleep with his nose resting on my leg. Those of you who know, or own, border collies know how unusual this could be in their hyper personalities.


He was getting tired. Of life I fear.

I recognized there weren’t years left. It was now months. I think he knew it was weeks.

Maybe even days.


As background.

It was just Tigger and I. And always has been (including an incredible circle of friends).

He has been my best friend for these 14+ years. From the day I picked him out border collie in handof a litter, carried him in the palm of my hand to the car and drove him home we have done everything together. With a mercurial personality, sometimes surly, always active, herding everything and shamelessly dedicated to me (except Uncle Gary who was his alpha dog) he was his own dog. Often, to the dismay of my friends, Tigger attended almost everything I attended. To call him my best friend really doesn’t tell half the story. I am single and he has been my constant family over the past 14+ years.

To be fair to Tigger he always encouraged me to add to the McTague household. Showing incredible affection to close friends, occasional girlfriends and even their pets. He has stuck with me as I have singlehandedly destroyed every relationship I have had with some amazing women over the years.

Now. Let it be told he did his part to salvage these relationships all on his lonesome.

There was the woman who he must have sensed I was thinking of moving on from as she left our place one day (and he was right) and as she drove away he suddenly started running after her car. She had to bring him back when he stood in front of her car at the light outside the complex because she couldn’t move without running him over. Nice try on his part but I still screwed it up. And then there was the time we were cat sitting for a girlfriend out of town on business and he took a nap curled around the cat, named Beast to top it off, telling me in his own way that he would approve having a cat in the household. (I screwed that one up too).

For some time now I think I have been afraid to let him go. I know all dog owners worry about that day. And I guess I hoped it was the one day he learned to talk so he could tell me and I didn’t have to guess. There were times I think he just wanted to say to me “I am tired, we had a great run my friend. It’s time for me to go.”

And sometimes when I felt that way I forced him up and out the door for a walk or a “quasi” run or something that gets him up and moving.

And that is why I think he got me off the hook.

He knew I wouldn’t let him go.


It is amazing to think about it but on Sunday, the last time he saw my mother, he played with her and was (as she called it) frisky. He gave her a going away gift. Her last memory was one of an active, fun border collie.

Monday, while I was typing on my computer he came over and fell asleep by my side with his head on my foot. And he rarely did something like that. I think he knew what was going to happen. Several times yesterday he came over and sat looking to get a good scratch behind the ear.

We had a great last day.


As he neared the finish line I sensed he wanted it to be just him and me. He was a lot less inclusive, more protective and more affectionate. Of course he couldn’t talk so I am guessing (trying to get in touch with my inner dog voice). Plus. He got “snappish” with other people which he never did before.

So. I use that information to make me feel better about myself.

I will miss the guy. He was my family. He has been with me through thick & thin. And I think he did a lot of things just to please me. I also sometimes thought lately, if I would let him, he would rest his head. And I am not sure he would stop resting.

But, once again, he never asked me to do that.

I think in the weird way that dogs know things about their owners…that he knew I was worried about being selfish and afraid of letting him go…but he was ready to go to “the great dog biscuit factory in the sky”. Yeah. I was afraid. Afraid of what it would be like without him (because he has got me through a variety of career crises, relationship fiascos, and general life ineptness). And I was right to be afraid. There is a hole. A deep empty hole.

I know in the end he didn’t want to disappoint me (I believe he knows he never did). And I also know he didn’t want me to worry unnecessarily.


He made the decision for me.

And then there was only one.

Enlightened Conflict