A is for Abcedarian

January 21, 2021


I’m taking a class on The Experimental Essay. Each week we work with a different form, such as the  “abecedarian” essay. Not what I’d thought it was at first; I’d assumed it was an essay form from Ancient Abecedaria ( I knew I should have paid attention in World History class. There was no Abecedaria, of course! It was Acetominophen! Right?) In any case, it’s NOT an ancient form. It means using each letter of the alphabet sequentially, to begin the next line, phrase or paragraph. Like this…

After enjoying many decades of canine-free,

Bark-less, non-shedding life, and resisting my kids’ pleas for a dog, I was sure that my sister,

Carolyn would remain the sole Pet Parent in the family. And I didn’t mind her parade of pooches, from Nick to Murphy--

Delightful doggies all, the more so because I rarely saw them and never had to walk them in the dark in bad weather.

Ever grateful for my cozy house when I’d see neighbors, braving wind and icy rain because little

Fido needed to go. “It’s good exercise!” these folks would rave. “If you say so,” I’d reply.

Give me a good book and a comfy couch instead, I’d think.

Hadn’t the vaguest interest even in the Westminster Dog Show, (though

I’d turn that on sometimes to see what the trainers were wearing). I didn’t know a chihuahua from a Saint Bernard,

Just that one used to deliver kegs of brandy to stranded travelers in the Alps. And I recently heard that is a myth!

Karma, my friends: I now have TWO dogs in my immediate family. Just last month, Julie and Gil adopted Lumi, a rescue destined for a meat market in Korea. Korean rescues are a thing apparently--Rose soon followed with her furry new addition, Ruby.

Lucky pups, especially since their alternative was a stew pot! But seriously, my daughters are in Heaven.

Many conversations with them now revolve around Pet Milestones, and I find myself actually interested.

Nowadays, Lumi is much less skittish than she was at first (wouldn’t you be, if you used to be sold by the pound?)

Oh, Ruby is still quite fearful, but she’s a newer acquisition and it’s taking her more time to feel at home. Isn’t this fascinating?

Plus, I now enjoy hearing about chew toys and dog treats! Really!

Quiz me on breeds! Go on!

Rottweilers were among the first police dogs! Dachshunds have long low bodies and bold vivacious personalities!

Shih Tzus are tiny dogs from Tibet! Snoopy is a cartoon beagle!

This latter-day conversion to dog fancier surprises no one more than me,

Unless you count my sudden about-face on having children after seven years of marriage—

Very unexpected, that one!

Will I take the next step and adopt my own puppy? No way!

X in that box on the questionnaire!

Yet, I’ve been wrong about myself before. Animals aren’t just for living in

Zoos, I’ve learned. Sometimes, they’re for living in hearts. Maybe even mine.


    I am an author (of four books, numerous plays, poetry and freelance articles,) a director (of Spiritual Formation at a Lutheran church,) and a producer (of five kids).

    I write about my hectic, funny, perfectly imperfect life.

    Please visit my website: or email me at



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