|Bruce A. Hartzell, DVM
Author, Lecturer, Photographer, Veterinarian
|Learning to pursue one's dreams is a hard lesson to learn. For
Bruce, it has taken the better part of six decades to recognize that
fulfilling social requirements or climbing artificial ladders as a
means of defining success hasn't achieved the degree of
contentment he envisioned in the first few decades of his life.
Cresting past sixty, he found a purpose beyond the definitions that
were role modeled by his elders. Spiritual energy didn't need some
sanctioned organized religion to be real. The higher quest he
embraced was becoming an advocate for other species, our other
non-human roommates on this blue planet.
From this new, exciting idea evolved the beginnings for his novel,
When Dogs Dance with Dinosaurs.
|Hartzell's Spiritual Quest
|Anthropomorphism is a fancy six syllable word describing the voice
and thoughts of organisms (non-human) so that we can begin to
understand their needs. The voice Bruce chose for this novel is a
Labrador named Dodger. Dodger's mission: help us
understand what another living, breathing being feels about
inhabiting the planet with two-legged pack members.
If we are all born out of the same molecular particles, conceived
from elements synthesized in the same cosmic events, then it
stands to reason that all beings, all things, have an energetic
connection to each other. Wouldn't it be wonderful if, as humans,
we could understand what other species might wish to share with
us? Bruce thinks we should pay attention.
Bruce's canine orator for When Dogs Dance with Dinosaurs
has some very insightful observations regarding humanity. Funny,
contemplative and tearful, Dodger inspires mankind towards a
higher purpose. One that engages a greater measure of tolerance
and compassion, especially for ourselves.
|The large hand of the Big Guy, a pack leader I would come to
know, slid his arm beneath my short legs lifting me upward
towards his chest. Compared to the last time, this experience
wasn't scary. Laying my young head into the nap of his arm, I
could feel his breathing was a reciprocal to my own. Looking at his
bearded face, a new feeling engulfed me. My emotional union to
another being was beginning. Little did I know that through this
growing affection was an inherent gifting capacity. I was to become
the one who possessed the answer to the vital question: How
humanity was going to avoid its trending march
|The Plot Thickens
It’s not as cold as I expected. Unlike the intravenous injections I’ve had before, this stuff has a kind of soothing
warmth. I can feel it coursing through the vessels of my limb. Everything feels like it’s in slow motion as the pink
viscous substance travels its circuitous route within my veins, diluted by my serum and my cells. His tears flow
freely now, dropping on the reddish-yellow fur of my ears. His arms surround and cradle me, holding my old
arthritic legs in his lap to comfort and calm me as the barbiturate courses on its journey towards my heart, en route
to the area within me that still has awareness. I’ve anticipated this moment was at hand, because I know I’ve
completed this life’s work and my body has disintegrated. I am exhausted and ready for my new journey, my new
The moment is close now, for I am quietly moving outward towards the universe. I can still feel the gentle shudder
of his cries and the soothing reassurances of his love. He has been my friend and my student, but now he’s ready to
stand on his own. I taught him the essence of unconditional love, and I’m confident that on his journey he will
share the same with those whose paths he crosses.
My apprehension ebbs slowly towards a tranquil place as the center of my love diminishes its beat. The fog of his
image is vanishing as I sense it’s more than the frosted visions from my old and cloudy cataracts. The drug is
nearly complete and the pain of age is likewise receding. In this moment, the energy within me is radiating outward
and surrounding his being and those he has chosen. My soul is a part of his and a part of all that is. Goodbye my
friend; I am now you. I am a piece of the energy within your universe.
Chapter One-Deck of Cards
Some accept that life deals you a certain hand. Others believe that you choose your cards. Me, I’m a pack animal,
and the pack of cards I chose was a compilation of members from widely varying interests and creations. Having
survived the better part of eighteen years, I lived the equivalent of one hundred and twenty-six years, according to
a human scale you folks love use for comparing others. I believe this qualifies me as a legitimate observer of life on
the blue planet, despite the diminished cloudy cataract-induced vision of my later years. At the heart of this story is
how learning life’s lessons molded my observational skills, and my subsequent assessment about dealing with life
among a bunch of jokers, queens, and one who was to become my ace. What follows is a simple tale divulging the
insights and musings by this particular card player.
My first sight of him was his blurred image passing by the window while I was wrasslin’ with my brother. While in
the process of orally massaging my brother’s leg and utilizing the intensity of my growls to convey the ferocity of
my slobbering purpose, the blurred figure became more defined. He was tall; a big man, confident. I spit out my
brother’s leg and ventured over towards the glass door. Curiosity got me. Who was this guy? He seemed different
from the other two-legged models that sometimes rubbed my head or squeezed me too tight and put plates of
oatmeal lookin’ stuff for me to sometimes lick, sometimes eat or sometimes stand in the middle of. There was a
purpose about this guy, an assurance of knowing, that captivated my attention. He talked with the other people
inside, sometimes moving his hands and sometimes pointing towards my brothers, sisters and yup, sometimes he’d
even point at me.
I’m pretty much focused on him until my sister pounced on me and I had to show her who was really in charge.
Things were back to normal until I heard the door open. I figured they were about to bring more of that gruelly-
type stuff for us to fight over. Instead, he walked out with the other two-legged members and proceeded to start
picking up my brothers and sisters one by one. For a seven-week-old canine, I’m generally a pretty mellow
accepting sort of chap. Yet, after my third sibling yelped following this guy having picked them up, I figured I
needed to intervene. I attacked his jean pant leg with a vengeance. My litter mates were probably mighty proud of
the ominous guttural noises that I made. I was determined that I’d shake him into submission and would
eventually inspire him to cease his abuse of my siblings. To my astonishment, he didn’t heed my warnings at all.
Instead, he reached down to pry my embedded teeth from his denim and lifted me up to an incredibly fearful height.
My first good look at his face was about six inches away from his nose while precariously perched on his hand; my
feet dangling a couple of yards above the turf. Actually, it was concrete. I was thinking, “Dude, don’t drop me.
Pleeease, don’t drop me.” My prior confidence and purpose had evaporated. I was petrified. This wasn’t any way to
treat a newborn yellow lab. Miraculously, his large hands guided me to the safety of his chest and cradled me within
the sanctuary that was the crook of his arm. I could feel his large hand stroke over the top of my head and back as
he tried to soothe my racing heartbeat. “Yeah buddy, I just had a near death experience. You’d better be givin’ me
some pets,” I mused. I could feel his heartbeat. His chest pulse seemed a lot different than moms’. Hers was all
warm, snugglely and secure. However, his was different than any other sensation in my limited experience. I
wondered if he could feel mine. It felt almost like electricity flowing in both directions. His heartbeats flowed
towards mine and mine towards his. It was weird.
Just as I felt mesmerized by this strange and baffling experience, he stuck me. The son of bitch stuck me with this
incredibly sharp thing in my neck. Now if you asked any of my siblings I’m one of the tougher members of our
brood, but getting injected in the neck with some pointy thing, approximately the size of a tree trunk, was a totally
novel experience for me. By God, I let him know it too. Bravery had nothing to do with it. I just wanted to make
sure he knew that my experience wasn’t a pleasant one and he aughta not ever do it again. My impression of a
Boeing 747 jet engine winding up for imminent tarmac departure was spectacular. The decibel level was fabulous. I
am pretty confident there had to have been some shattered crystal at that snotty next-door neighbor’s house or at
least plaster was falling off their stucco walls. Did I mention the pee? It wasn’t the pinnacle moment of courage in
my life. But give me a break; I was only seven weeks this side of the womb.
Somehow, I managed to return to the safety of earth. It was all kind of a haze. I must have blacked out or
|Copyright © 2011 Bruce Hartzell. All rights reserved