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Author's letter

The dog and his relationship with man has always been something marvelous and beautiful that touches me deeply. I wanted to write a novel about a dog, but I also meant for it to be about America, with its relevant times, places and people. My idea - the dog was to be a window through to the soul of this nation as we follow him on a journey from person to person.

Most of the characters in this work were quilted out of my own personal journey across these United States. I made that trip a study for the book I wanted to write. I talked with people in coffee shops and bars, struck up conversations at truck stops and RV parks. I went to church charities for animal shelters and biker rallies for rescue missions and gatherings in city parks for the "Blessing of the Animals."

I collected this living documentary of true stories and personal insights about man and the dog that were as rich and moving as poetry and paintings and felt like music and that spoke to the unfathomable ways of existence. Somewhere long into my journey I began to realize I was missing a centerpiece character, who along with the dog, could anchor this mural of American life I was trying to create. Then one night, life intervened.

I was on a California backroad heading toward the desert. There were storms that night and the wipers had to fight away the rain. The road was black and where it swept through a low ascension of hills towards the AT and SF railroad tracks I came upon the scene of an accident.

A pickup had hit a dog. Its headlights fleshed out a young man kneeling over the wounded animal. As I ran toward the scene the young man looked up and asked if I could help get the dog into his truck, and he would take him to an animal hospital in town.
As we set the dog on the front seat I noticed a U.S. Marine tattoo on the young man's shoulder. And from that decal on down to his wrist was a hatchety scar that spoke to me of a battle wound.

Pointing at it I asked, "Iraq?"

His face told of having experienced much. "Iraq," he said.

Whether it was an accidental happenstance or the poetry of fate, those few fleeting minutes would prove to be at the soul of everything I wanted to say, from the intimate to the ultimate. And so, on a backroad in the rain, I found the character I was searching for to be an anchor, along with the dog, for this mural of American life.

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