Everyone knows dogs can’t talk. But what if that were not always true. A new book recounts a mystical meeting between a man and a dog. It takes place high in the Himalayas, where a magical tale, like this one is right at home.
“It begins before the tiny puppy had a name.”
That’s former U.S. Ambassador to Nepal, Scott DeLisi, reading from his new book. In his 35-year career he’s been ambassador to Eritrea and Uganda, among many other places.
“But there was something truly special about the experience of Nepal.”
And one day, on a group trek up to the Lo Gekar
Monastery, DeLisi saw a tiny puppy that he says, spoke to him.
“He saw me, and I saw him. And when he looked at me that connection was there, he said ‘Dhai’ which means older brother, “Please come sit.”
“That was the beginning. And this dog and I have communicated ever since.”
The puppy had lost its mother and a young boy from the village found him high in the Himalayas and scooped him up, zipping him in his fleece jacket for warmth. And as the story goes, when the dog with no name saw the Ambassador, he jumped right onto his lap, put his paws on his chest the way puppies do and that was that.
DeLisi asked the villagers if this puppy was for sale. He had already decided to name him Lo Khyi. As it says in the book, “They said, you must understand that here in Tibet, the word for dog is Khyi, which is also the word for happiness. So, we consider dogs to be the source of happiness. So, we do not sell them. We give them as gifts.”
DeLisi’s new children’s’ book about Lo Khyi is called, “The Ambassadors Dog.” He admits, that to write it he had to imagine the puppy’s early life, before the two met and bonded with their own special language.
Today, DeLisi and his wife live in Haymarket, Virginia. The book came out last week, read by DeLisi.
“They say that those winds that blow across the Tibetan plateau carry the hopes and wishes that are written on the prayer flags onward to the heavens. I don't know if that is true, but I'd like to think it is. So did the little puppy who hope that his truest dreams might be carried on those wins. He had not inscribed them on a flag, but he hoped that the winds would carry his dream nonetheless.”
Delisi chose Jane Lillian Vance to illustrate the book ---and illuminate it with fantastical, intricate images, she did.
“The cover of the book shows what the ambassador first beheld when he met this puppy,” says Vance. “This dusty, but noble puppy, who was parked on this pile of rocks waiting as if he understood that there was someone to wait for.”
“And, because there are no stores where you can buy hardware, you make your own things, his leash was a prayer scarf printed with prayers, for wisdom and compassion. And the idea in Nepal is, that the wind moves through the printed prayers and carries those wishes to the people or the creatures who need them most.”
Vance is internationally known for her unique genre of oil paintings that illuminate Tibetan Buddhism in words and vivid color. For more than a decade, she taught a course at Virginia Tech called, The Creative Process.
Vance has been to Nepal many times and she knows what the terrain is like, “And so this little puppy who must have been, (terrified) –I've seen the avalanches in those Himalayas, and I'm sure that's what happened and the landscape and the book and the illustration shows you.”
And for a small puppy to be separated from his little tribe, his family and his mama…”
Well, she says, that’s part of what makes this story just right for these times.
“We have to remember with courage, the refugee, the homeless, the one who is sick, or has lost a job, and all the animals who are voiceless may be starving or afraid.”
“And I think we must commit to act on our compassion. And by our example, teach young children, ---this is a children's book to grow up on--- to be the one who stops and helps the other one, even if it's a dusty puppy shivering on the side of a mountain trail.”
The book is called “The Ambassador’s Dog” by Scott DeLisi and it was illustrated by Jane Lillian Vance.