“Are you ready for the last five principles, Pixie?”

“Don’t ask something you already know the answer to, Marshall”! woofed Pixie in her exclamatory way, used whenever someone tried to challenge her dedication to a cause she believed in.

“Woah, take it easy, girl, I know you are serious!”, laughed Marshall panting through his open muzzle. 

“Well, let’s not waste any more time then girl, cause we are more than a little pressed for it!. Here are the five principles – don’t forget that they come last on the list, but there is no preset order of importance for any of them. 

“Principle number eight is: you have to be able to be alone before you love someone else. Not only you have to be alone but you have to feel good about it. Only then you will be able to relate from a space of generosity and not from a sense of lack. Feeling a lack or a void will never be compensated by another person. Sure, a loved one can stir the pot and refresh your energy in unfamiliar ways, but only if you are open to it. 

“To be open, you have to feel whole and willing to share without expectation,  I presume?” asked Pixie.

“Indeed, Pixie, I see you are making connections between the principles already. That’s good, we can speed up our lesson and go straight to principle number nine, which is: love takes practice. It is a process of trial and error where one shows a willingness to learn from their mistakes and take life as it rolls out. You cannot graduate in love or grasp it as a feeling or as an idea. Saying that you love someone and not doing anything to show that you love them is not love. It is a self-absorbed feeling, a projection.”

“A projection? What do you mean?” Pixie’s curiosity was suddenly awakened.

 “Let me use an example. Do you know how you thought Isaac was your enemy? That he hated you? Do you still think that?”

“Well, nope, not really, but what does that have to do with projection?”

“It has. You made conclusions about someone else on the basis of your imagination, beliefs, almost delusions. The story you have crafted in your mind about the basset didn’t give the full picture. It didn’t resemble reality or what Isaac is all about. It was mostly in your head, wasn’t it?”

“True, but I’m not sure I know him that much even now either.” Pixie’s eyes blinked in wonder as she was waiting for her system to digest the new facts.

“You don’t, but your idea about him is less burdened by your own projections and it will even be less so as you connect with him more.”

“If I connect with him more”, Pixie was quick to jump in with a correction.

“Alright, if!” Marshall’s pug eyes widened in a cryptic joyous smile as if he knew something about both of them they had no clue about yet. 

“Apart from being too much in your thoughts and stories you tell about the other person, love takes open eyes, listening skills, and an attitude of curiosity. Observe, rather than judge when you love someone. Love them for they are and do something to show your love. Action, Pixie, action!”

“I know what you mean, action always speaks louder than words. I think that Charlene girl is pretty gullible as far as action is concerned. She gives people too much benefit of the doubt, always believing the best about them., doesn’t she?”

“Hmm, you are partially right. Between choosing to approach people with trust or feat, trust is definitely a much better option. However, blind trust is also full of projections. Rather than seeing the wholeness of a person, which often involves many nasty bits, gullible people protect themselves by projecting beneficial qualities to someone who doesn’t have them. I’d say Charlene does that.”

“How do you know all this Marshall about Daniel and Charlene?”

“We have been following them for a while. Shark was handling Pixie, while Isaac was with Daniel.” 

“I get it, love takes time, practice, and action. What’s principle number ten, then?”

“Principle number ten is: Direct your love towards the world as a whole. Do not objectivize. You cannot maturely love another while hating the rest of the world. That level of exclusivity is unhealthy, it is fake. Don’t get me wrong – you will love intimately only one person. But if you create a bubble around you two only and find fault with the rest of the world, that bubble will burst before it develops its complete color spectrum. Love the sky, love the trees and the mountain, the bird and the rivers, the Earth’s crust, humanity, the universe. Let your heart spread as far as possible, as you get to the grip with the fact that you are only a tiny speck of dust in space and in time. One does become humble in face of eternity. I should know better, I’m a hundred years old!”   

“You’re not old, Marshall”, Isaac stopped being invisible and interfered with the training that was taking the shape of a friendly conversation. He loved listening to Pixie and Marshall in silence.

“That’s right, he’s not old, he is a dirty old bag!” Shark didn’t spare his old mentor from his sardonic jokes, running out of nowhere. “How much more do you need to do, dogs? I am done with my reconnaissance task. Things are boiling down there. Half of the club is already packed. We still have a couple of hours before peak time but don’t become complacent. After all, it’s Friday. Weird, unexpected things happen on Fridays”! concluded Shark puffing while his breath was calming down from the running. That corgi was tireless.  

“We are almost done, boy! We have just two more principles to cover. But since you are already here, why don’t you stay with Isaac and Pixie to repeat some stuff. Going over the same ground before such an important undertaking can’t hurt, can it?”commanded Marshall.

Shark had no right to object, especially after the joke he made. He sat next to Pixie and Isaac, while Marshall went on:

“You need a sense of humility that separates a loving mature person from an omnipotent, egocentric, and narcissistic child. That’s the eleventh principle. And you have to be capable of taking risks and facing pain and disappointment. That’s principle number twelve.” Marshall concluded the list of twelve principles, as the three younger dogs stood pensively in their heads, carried away by the wise words, and contemplating about how best to apply them in that evening’s challenge, for what they didn’t know is that this challenge will take longer, much longer than one night to be rounded in a fashion everyone is pleased about. 

“Isaac, care to walk together to clear our minds before we get into action? I have something to show you”, Pixie looked at Isaac with a hopeful look, surprising him as he was getting ready to go away together with Shark to relax and make last-minute arrangements.

Isaac was focused on Pixie’s sparkling brown eyes more and more, as he blurted out half-abashedly as he realized he was staring:

”Sure, let’s go. I must admit, I’m curious.”

Together, they ventured in the opposite direction of “The Demure”, in what seemed like a calmer, friendlier area to the crowded street that was filling up with cars and people, ready to leave the worries from the past work week on the dance floor, and for the less fortunate, to drown them in alcohol.

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