I wrote this piece a long time ago - I think it's been well over a year. In other words, I wrote it at a time I'd thought - and hoped - I would still have many years with my pups. It is inspired by, and dedicated to them, after all.

I submitted it to an online magazine a while ago, but it was declined. I suppose in this day in age, it wasn't "social justice warrior" enough?!

Nonetheless, I decided to share it on here, because I feel it applies VERY strongly to all of us who have lost our beloved pups.

For My Lola. Because she WAS my very own Brightest Soul.

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Once, when Creation was still young, an Engineer working in the Soul Forge began to notice an anomaly regarding certain souls.

The Engineer battled long and hard, drawing on all his knowledge and expertise, but the matter persisted. Finally, he put in a line to the Big Boss.

"What is the problem we are faced with?" The Boss asked upon his arrival.

The Engineer explained the situation:

"Every once in a while, a soul comes out of the Forge, that is quite remarkable different from the rest. It shines much brighter and stronger.

"However, each time I take one of these souls to be bound to a human life, it simply dies. It fizzles out of existence instantly."

"This is indeed unsettling news," The Boss said gravely. After a moment of thought, he gestured to the Forge. "Do you have one of these souls on hand? I would very much like to examine it."

"Of course - I have quite a few stored for safe keeping." The Engineer replied. He showed the Boss to the Forge, where he proceeded to extract one of the special souls that were already floating around inside. "Here it is. See how bright it shines?"

The Boss very carefully took the soul in his hands, turning it round and round, looking into it's depths. "This is indeed a very special soul. It's life force is strong and vibrant. There is so much potential, here." Then, after a pause, "Perhaps...if I attempted to tether it to a new life myself?"

The Engineer agreed readily, grateful for the offer of help. After all, the Boss was infinitely more skilled, much stronger, AND more wise than the Engineer himself.

And so, the Boss did try to link one of the bright souls to a new human life. However, at the very instance of joining the two, the soul sputtered and sparked, diminished, and then vanished.

"I do not understand." The Boss said, his face deeply unhappy. "This simply cannot happen again. These souls are so beautiful, we cannot let them go to waste. We should not let any more of them be connected to human lives. Though...what will we do with them, if not give them life?"

"If I may make a suggestion?" The Engineer spoke up.

"Please do. This is your domain." The Boss encouraged him.

" is not the soul's incompatibility that is the problem. The fault may lay with the vessel."

After a moment's thought, the Boss nodded. "You may be right. Are you suggesting we perhaps create an entirely new vessel, for these souls specifically?"

The Engineer smiled. "Yes. I do believe they warrant something as special as they are. And, as you said, the Forge - and souls - are my domain." He spread his hands. "Creation is yours."

With this agreed, the Boss promised to return with new vessels for the special souls.

And so it was, that these new vessels were made, and they took to the special souls instantly. The match was perfect, and resulted in unique, wonderful new life forms on Earth.

Finally happy with their work, the Boss and the Engineer parted ways, until they might need one another's assistance or knowledge again.

Time went on, and once more the Engineer noticed another occurrence concerning the special souls in their new vessels.

They did not live long lives.

Deeply upset by this discovery, the Engineer sought out the Boss.

When he informed him of the news, the Boss nodded gravely, and sighed. "I had been afraid something like this would happen."

"You had expected this?" The Engineer queried, surprised.

The Boss nodded again. "I did. When I had first looked into that soul, I realized it was, in fact, so special, that it was almost too pure for life. But at the same time, I also knew we could not let something so amazing stay here, untouched, never to be shared - never to have a chance at a life of it's own. Though still I suspected...anything that burns so brightly, would also inevitably fade much quicker. It is unbearably sad, but this is simply the way it is."

The Engineer didn't realize that he was crying. The Boss placed a hand on his shoulder, smiling sadly himself. "Do not be troubled, my friend. For remember, all those special souls will not fade into nothingness, like they did before they had their own vessels. They return here, to us. Come - let me show you something."

The Boss led the Engineer to a large window. "This is the Afterlife." He explained. "Even it, has been changed by the special souls. See how much brighter it is, by their mere presence?"

Looking out at the image of the Afterlife, the Engineer felt his sadness fading. It was beautiful, seeing those bright, amazing souls, making everyone around them happier and more at peace.

It was just as it was on Earth, where the special souls had been deemed Man's Best Friend. For that was what they were: a Companion to mankind. A companion that was selfless, loved unconditionally, and always remained loyal.

The Brightest Souls. Dogs.

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