by Boots Hart, CAP

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

From An Astrologer’s Notebook

When I looked up 'Golden American Cocker Spaniel' this
photo came up, and it does look a lot like my friend
Barnaby did about a decade ago.
photo credit: Ryan Johnson (January 2007)

A friend of mine died today. His name was Barnaby, and he had four very furry feet, a sweet disposition, fluffy body, endearing gaze and a very wiggly tail.

‘B’ as he was known to his family and probably everybody else (including me) was a Cocker Spaniel. People who know me know that even though disabled, here and there I’ve looked after people’s pets when they go away. There are a lot of pets which frankly, I don’t want to take care of. But B and his Siamese cat ‘wife’ Kiki, they’ve been my friends for many, many years now.

Their ‘mom’ and I have often joked that as both kitty and pup have grown older they seemed more and more like an old couple sitting on the bench in the park…loving and entirely used to each other’s little irritating habits, they were seldom far away from each other to the last.

When I went to the house…it was a beautiful, sunny day. The garden was alive with blooming roses, the air gently cool but filled with warming promise.

Then I walked out onto the back patio. It was quiet. Too quiet. Barnaby had been old and stiff for some time now, but something was different.

The minute I got to the gazebo looking for my friends I heard Kiki calling me from amidst the greenery. Her call sounded odd and she circled – undecided – before she came over to get her velvet coat petted and a little ear scratch.

But then she raised her blue eyes and looked straight at me. I knew something was wrong.

It didn’t take me long to find him and I knew she had watched her life-long friend and companion die, helpless against that moment which in time finds us all.

I burst out crying. Anyone would. We cry when our loved ones die whether they be human, animal or for many of us, tree or plant. I wrote his parents a note despite the fact we talked on the phone back and forth, they as upset as I was and the father doing his best to reassure me as from hundreds of miles away they tried to marshal who needed to come help with all.

What I wrote them was a note about how none of us are good with death…and how I’ve been told I deal with it less well than some. I don’t begrudge myself that…I grew up spending the first 14 years of my life watching my sister die inch by inch by gasping inch of Cystic Fibrosis. I don’t think I’ve ever quite processed her life…or death fully. She died on the day Bobby Kennedy was shot. It was a gruesome, ironic 24 hours. When the family funeral cortege went through town people came out on the sidewalks to wave little American flags at the line of shiny black limos. I guess they thought we were the Kennedys.

Gemini always looms large when death occurs in my life. It doesn’t make sense until I think in terms of Jupiter. Great big red Jupiter…growth, learning, leaving: Jupiter. Oddly enough, this planet often thought of astrologically so ‘all things good’ can also signal ‘all things overwhelming’ and even being ‘overcome’ by life’s processes.

It’s to remember…Jupiter and Saturn orbit as a celestial pair: there’s a ‘gap’ between Mars and Jupiter and another between Saturn and Uranus. Together, Jupiter and Saturn represent the initiation and building of structures and lives…and the decline and end, too.

But one thing alone never signifies death. That’s an astrological rule. The coming eclipse will affect my Jupiter as July’s eclipse will hit my IC. I’m not joyous, no. Yet being a believer in doing and using the time and energy given me, I do what I do and have faith all will be as it should be.

As for my little golden friend with his paddy paws and wiggling tail, he isn’t going to see the heat of summer he disliked so much. His allergies won’t bug him any more. He off being a puppy now in some other space.

And his family, his friends like me, his velvet coated wife cat Kiki…we will all miss him desperately.

Yet maybe because we do, we will value our own lives a little bit more. Maybe we will treasure the time, and treasure our gifts, and work out to some slightly better degree how much time we should take for ourselves and our pleasures and how much we should devote to using our gifts to leave this world a little better…maybe sadder in some ways but touched and enhanced…for our having been here.

Like Barnaby.

I wrote a little poem for him a couple of years back. His parents liked it. Maybe you will too.

The Prince of Fetch
Boots Hart / c. 2007

A very fetching prince the Prince of Fetch is
In a garden of roses is where the Prince lives,
On golden paddy paws he tours the
Brick realm which is his,
Yes, a fine and kindly Prince 
The Prince of Fetch is

So handsome and gentle as ever a Prince was,
The softly silent type who coveys all with a nudge,
Neither obtrusive or rude,
He earns everyone’s love
Yes the charming Prince of Fetch is as
Fetching a Prince as 
Ever was
Whilst surveying his kingdom, the Prince smiles,
Knowing his people will return in but a
wee, little while
With a yawn and quick scratch,
He sprawls out for a nap,
Yes the serene Prince of Fetch
Smiles first, and smiles last
So few hear his bark and not one feels his bite,
Though mellow now with years, yon Prince has
Always been sweet, fetchingly nice
Born to enjoy the grace of a
pampered puppy Prince life, 
He carry the ball and  
Comes in when day becomes night
O, a very fetching prince the Prince of Fetch is
In a garden or roses is where the Prince lives
A velvet treat for all, he
Scampers broad castle halls
Keeping track of all important
Keeping an eye on one and all
Just because…
As lovable a Prince as anyone’s seen ever
(or since),
Yes, the charming Prince of Fetch is as
Fetching a Prince as
Ever could be
Or ever was
Of that, I'm convinced.

Barnaby died on his birthday.



  1. hard to lose a 4 legged friend...reminds us all of those we have wished passage...

  2. You're so very right. B had been my sweet and faithful friend for years. It not only pains me to see him go, but I'm sorry that his last moments were probably far from filled with the comfort and love of those he knew and trusted.