Years ago, when we adopted our late dog Jack, he had been taught not to bark. He had been trained as a show dog, a career move we didn't continue. Instead, we chose a brand new job description for this big loveable canine; he was to simply be our friend and companion for the rest of his life.
Until we could teach him to bark again, we temporarily solved the problem of his telling us when he needed to go outside. We put sleigh bells on the door, for him to ring with his nose, and this worked out well.
Within a few months, Jack surprised himself one day by barking; he loved the rolling-thunder sound of his own voice, and from that day forward he practiced it often. Still, he continued his ring-the-bell message when he wanted to go outside.
Jack was also our family's self-appointed greeter; he absolutely loved people, and our friends called him Super Host. When a car pulled into the driveway, he would run to the door and vigorously ring the bells with his nose to let us know we had company.
All these years later, the bells are still there, though Jack has been gone for years. The bells have been there for so long, they have worn a mark on the door; and those bells will probably be there forever.
So... when you enter our home, you will still hear the bells... a bit like the sound when your opened a door to a shop in the old-fashioned days. When you hear those bells, you'll be hearing a bit of the spirit of Jack which seems to remain in this house.
That spirit is welcome; and so are our friends... and we will also probably never remove that mark on the door.
POSTSCRIPT: We buried Jack near a big black walnut tree, near the path into the woods where he and I walked daily. We brought rocks up from the creek as a natural marker, and then we sank a shepherd's crook beside his grave, and from it we attached a large wind chime... large enough to be heard from inside the house in the coldest weather.
And on this November 1, 2013, years afterward as I walk daily with Jack's successor Mick, we still hear those musical bells. Jack's greeting!