I have the good fortune of entering a new stage of my life. This stage has nothing to do with economics or physics or morals or religious beliefs, but rather personal relationships. Person to person, not in ideology, but in the moment. And deeper and more to the subject is my relationship with all things.

I was watching a Bill Withers documentary and he said, “Someday I hope to accept all things.” And I thought deeply and often about that. And often I looked at all the parts of my life, and said “can you, Jay Barker, accept that?”

I found I have some unacceptable characteristics. I found by accepting these flaws, I could then live with em’ or fix em’, but nonetheless, identify them. Accept all things?

Old habits are hard to break and I have mine. And I am good friends with my old habits and we are comfortable together, like a favorite hat or pair of jeans … comfortable together.

I have some good habits and I have some bad ones.. I accept all of these and lay claim to them, but I also want to change some things. At my age, men can go crazy wanting to change things. Hell, I did… but ya’ll already know that. Right now what I want to change is my temper at all stages.

My temper is what I want to work on, because I haven’t always had a quick temper… I was “chillaxed” most of my life as far as temper was concerned. So why now and for some time back have I allowed my red-headed, Alpha male, big loving heart yield to the temper of the beast? Temper is like a beast in me, or the gorilla as I call it. If I drop my guard and anti-temper senses even a little, temper is there.

My temper, I think for me, is better described as “being very sensitive”. In the restaurant business, I feel I must be sensitive to the quality and consistency of my next dish… every one of them. When things are not as “right” as they should be, I react with a high level of “sensitivity” called temper.

So I work on this with little headway, so I thought back and remembered when I was not so sensitive. What was different about me? And the only thing I could come up with was, I was dog-less. Yep, I haven’t had a dog now for several years because I couldn’t. Each time I considered a dog “to replace Boo” it didn’t feel right because no dog could replace Boo, my constant companion for 18 yrs. Once I accepted “no dog could replace Boo”, I mourned. Then after several attempts at little house dogs given to us by our children’s dogs, I have finally decided to raise another dog.

My friend Adam Whitten posted on Facebook, puppy needed home, and a picture. I instinctively typed back… I want the pup if it’s a male…. And it was and he is now mine.

Right off the bat, my new puppy friend of 6 weeks tested my sensitivity. I told Diana, “I don’t know if my age and patience level is right for raising a new baby puppy.” Puppies are so needy and baby like.

Well, within minutes the total responsibility hit me. Having a good dog is every man’s desire, but the chore of the raising doesn’t hit you till that first pile of puppy poop hits the carpet and pee spots the size of a quarter begin to appear. Then the favorite shoe is chewed up slightly, still resting in his waggy tailed mouth, with them puppy eyes looking up at you… and it melts temper and somehow creates an open door for joy and of all things, acceptance.

I immediately accept, this is a baby puppy and respond accordingly. I, flashed in an instant, at how I responded to mistakes by my “puppy like” young staff and I am embarrassed. I, from this day on, will try to do better, in my young business adventure (the Broken Spoke 8 years) with the way I see it… as a young, learning group of people.

My goal is to train them and my new pup into the proudest, happiest bunch that loves being around the pack leader. I know I lead the pack at work, at home, and with my pets, but I forget how the young need encouraged more than corrected.

So me and the pup and 8 toys and 1 shoe are on the porch this early morning, watching the birds feed and I reach down to pet my yet to be named puppy and thank him for “not being a replacement for Boo” but rather for being a puppy and young and needing attention. Attention I was afraid I was to busy to give him. But he slowed me down long enough to see me and the things that are unacceptable to me about me.

I accept that I have some unacceptable behavior and I accept the challenge of changing. Old habits are hard to break, but my new puppy is helping me get some new old habits, that only come with owning and caring for and loving a dog.

All my life I have had a personal relationship with my dogs. They have been a part of me and my lifestyle and with Boo’s death, I changed that old habit. Because I was too sensitive to the fact that no dog could replace Boo. Well that is true, but a new stage and age has begun… old Jay and a new dog.

I see the benefits already and I am starting to see some old habits are the best things in the world… like having a dog friend and companion.

I hope for my new pup’s safety and I am still cleaning up poop and have had the carpet shampooed twice in a month and I am not upset about it.

I accept, I am not a whole person without a dog to care for and hang out with… so I got me a new dog.

I have never had a problem naming my dogs, but this one has me stumped. So far the top favorites are – Cash (for Johnny Cash, the man in black cause the dog is black), Razz (a razzling jasper cause that’s what he is), Blue (Blue’s Clues via a request by Amy Lu who’s 3) and “dammit dog”. He responds best to Dammit Dog, always poppin that head up with a slight tilt… and tail waggin’ when I say that phrase.

Maybe someday I will be able to accept all things fondly… about me and my pack. These things I pray: watch over my pack and keep me strong and gentle, for I have much to learn and more 2 teach. and Thank u lord for my dogs of yrs past and my new pup….How does Hoss sound 2 u, puppy?, as he drags the afghan off the couch over 2 my desk…and leaves it alongside a piece of tissue, a house shoe and a wagging tail makes it Ok…even though Diana’s house cleaner just cleaned up…oh well kids and dogs have those eyes that say I love u…do u love me?

We are creatures of habit….accept it, then change it or live with it…either way is acceptable. My temper and temperament is changing with each new day…each new dog day.

By the time this was typed….the dog got a name that stuck….HOSS…cause hes gonna be..a Hoss. Hoss has moved his poopin from the den to the porch and on to the side yard and he has doubled in size.