In way of introduction, I created the character Billy the Magic Dog thirteen years ago for my twin great-nieces Hayley and Amanda. Every New Year’s Eve I would recount the adventures of Billy that would always feature two royal princesses named appropriately Hayley and Amanda. This tradition terminated eight years ago when the twins were eight years old. I tired of Billy and wrote his final adventure where he transforms back into his original form of an eleven-year old boy. It was somewhat poignant when the two girls began to cry at the realization that this was the end of a tradition and they accused me of “getting rid of Billy”. Little did I know that one day Billy would emerge from the recesses of my unconscious and demand to appear in one more adventure. This is his story. I read it to the twins on New Year’s morning (sixteen-year old are partying on New Year’s Eve) and I am glad to say they seemed to still enjoy it. Here is that story. Happy New Year.
Billy woke feeling restless; it had been a strange night full of crazy dreams – dreams of rainbows, magic dogs, and a beautiful wise woman. He struggled with the memory that wanted to fade into the dawn. What had she said to him? For a moment he glimpsed her solemn, wise look and recalled she had asked him to complete one more quest that would involve three tests and was very important. Funny he couldn’t recall his response. He yawned, stretched; his body felt funny, shorter than he remembered. He opened his eyes and looked down onto grey fur. “GREY FUR!” What had happened to him? Then he remembered, he’d agreed to become a magic dog again until the quest was completed.
Suddenly he felt a chill of anxiety flood his body. He had no idea what the task was, could he be stuck as a dog for the rest of his life? What would happen at school? Would he be missed? Of course being a sixteen wasn’t always that great, at times he thought it would be more fun being Billy The Magic Dog again. Then he felt something around his neck; he touched it; it was the beautiful pendant she had given him. It contained magic powers and would connect him with her. “You will never be alone” she had said, “you need only to ask for help.” He put his paw up to the pendant and sent out a message, “show me the way” then waited. For a while he sensed nothing but then a strange word entered his mind. “Oakville”. It seemed foreign yet familiar. He got out a map guide and found it; it was a long way away and he had best get started; the quest had begun.
Billy set off into the night; it was dark and he felt a little anxious but the country was relatively easy and slowly his confidence picked up. He walked until he was tired then rested. It was early the next morning when his progress was disrupted by a huge angry river in his path. In the early dawn light it looked impossible to cross. Was his journey to end so soon? Then his heart sank as he noticed a disheveled, unsafe, vine and string constructed bridge dangling over the river. This was not going to be easy, he tentatively climbed on to the bridge and began cautiously to work his way across. He was terrified, the bridge swayed like a live snake, the river ferociously swirled beneath him. His heart pounded and his legs shook, he would never make it. Step by step he followed his nose cautiously never looking down, then he slipped, for a moment he dangled over the cauldron boiling beneath him then he clawed his way up. He stopped; it was too far to go back, yet he was still only half way. Then he looked upstream and could not believe his eyes. There not far above him was a band new concrete suspension bridge that he could have crossed with his eyes closed. Fury at the inconsideration of his guide who had promised to always be there, gripped him. He finally staggered across, drenched and angry and feeling abandoned sat in huff. He sent a silent protest to his guide, “how come you didn’t help?” he grumbled. The response was immediate, “Billy you didn’t ask, you just barged ahead. Sometimes we need to look a little further to find the best way and if we think there is danger then it is time to pause and ask for help.”
Billy was somewhat placated and could see the point. He continued his journey and made good time; things
went smoothly and the sun emerged and made everything look brighter. He could glimpse a thin line across the horizon and wondered what this may be. The further he walked the line just seemed to stay in the distance however after a number of hours he began to notice it began to look like a range of hills, then he realized they were big hills and finally it became clear that these were a range of huge impassible mountains. His heart sank but he had learned from his experience and so he took a break and stopped under a small tree in the shade and placed his paw on the pendant and asked for help. “Do I go up or around?” he asked. He sat quietly then heard the words, “sometimes you have to reach for the stars.” By now dusk was falling, he glanced up and saw the first stars of the evening and there it was – a narrow path through the range climbing to a high pass. He knew it was too late to start that day so he found a warm, dry spot and curled up to rest. He would leave at first light. He felt apprehensive, it would be steep, very high and he may run into snow. He knew he needed help. As he went to sleep he sent out a request to his guide. “This looks really difficult and I want help in reaching the top.” He created an affirmation that he repeated over and over as he was falling asleep. “I am powerful and strong and reach the top with ease.” And so he slept.
The next day started well, although the trail was a little rugged, he made good time, he noticed how strong he felt, he was breathing easily, the miles slipped away. It was beautiful, he was surrounded by snow capped peaks yet the trail was dry. He had to cross a little creek, the sun emerged, the trees began to dissipate as he climbed and before too long he emerged into an area that must be the pass. He had made it to the top. There was a large cairn of rocks assembled by other travellers and Billy added his contribution then sat and thanked his guide for the strength he had been given. He felt confident and assured of an easy day…. Five hours later he was exhausted, grumpy and his paws were incredibly sore. He also felt betrayed, what had happened to all that extra energy he’d asked for? It seemed to disappear the moment he began to travel down. “I AM NOT HAPPY” he howled to the surprise of some passing hikers who had never met a talking dog before. They promptly assumed they had altitude sickness and checked into the nearest clinic. Finally he reached the next town where he could have a long awaited drink of water and could calm himself long enough to remonstrate with his inner guide. “How could you let me down like that”, he whimpered. “Billy, what did you ask for?” As he continued his complaining Billy realized he had only considered the climb up not the trip down. “It is important to ask for what you really want” the voice continued softly. Billy sighed, there was a lot to learn on this journey.
As he started out the next day, he wondered just how long it was going to take and what awaited him at his destination. He was not sure how much he liked all the uncertainty yet there was also something exciting about living with a mystery and trusting events to unfold without having to control everything. He enjoyed the positives of connecting with this inner guide who seemed so wise and caring yet determined to let him learn through his mistakes. He walked for hours musing over his insights and really did not notice that he had entered a wood. However as the trees thickened and became more dense, the light dimmed as though it was getting dark and the trail became more difficult to follow. He had a sense of unease, he began to hear sounds behind him, in front of him, then all around him. Finally the trees became so dense that the trail completely petered out. He stopped and began to feel terrified. He stood with his back to a tree and all around him the voices seemed to be baying for his blood. “I have done nothing wrong, why do they want to get me?” he wondered. Life sometimes seems so unfair. “Would he ever get out of here?” He put his paw on the pendant and tried to let go of the anxiety that gripped him, then he felt a sense of reassurance from the calming voice, “Billy, this too shall pass. Everything you ever experience both good and bad is subject to this rule. All must pass.” At this point he fell asleep and when he woke the sun was out and he could see the trail ahead. He walked out of the dark wood and somehow realized he was nearing the end of his journey. He had completed the three tests: the river, the mountain and the dark wood. He had learned important lessons about seeking the superior way, on asking for what he really wanted and that even the bad things that happened would pass. All he needed to do was find out why he had come to Oakville. He found himself walking under some power lines, ahead he saw two figures and a small white dog that came rushing toward him. She was cute and friendly. Behind her were two beautiful women and as they became closer he realized to his delight that it was the lovely princesses of his earlier adventuress – Princess Hayley and Princess Amanda. Suddenly he knew why he was here. Would they recognize him? They laughed and ran closer “Billy we thought you were gone for ever” “Well”, he smiled mysteriously, “I have been sent to bring you a gift.”