Exercising muscles I’d prefer not to exercise

Two puppy friends: Cooper and Brock III

Two puppy friends: Cooper and Brock III


Monday, March 13th was my brother Brian’s 53rd birthday. He celebrated it in heaven having died eight years ago of a massive heart attack. I immediately thought of Brian when I awoke, as I do on each of my loved ones’ birthdays or anniversary days of when they took up residence in heaven. A bittersweet way of remembering. Love the remembering, but oh, the ache of the thin veil that separates.

IMG_1697Later that morning, in our front yard, Brock waited at the corner of my house looking back at me and watching the road for when Cooper would arrive. Cooper is one of his best pup friends, just one month younger than Brock. Their daily greeting is hard to watch as they devour each other – so excited to be in each other’s presence again … even though it had been just hours since last they’d met.

Brock and Cooper played in the front yard for maybe 45 minutes – me checking on them every three to four minutes trying to minimize what they could collectively destroy with lightning speed! Puppies, right?!

At one point I looked out the side window of my house. I could only see Cooper. I walked out the front door and found Cooper. I scanned the yard swiftly and did not see Brock. I went to the other side of the house and didn’t see him there either. I wondered if maybe he’d gotten out of the fenced yard; but that had never happened before. On my way back to the front of the house I saw Brock under one of the huge cedar trees in the front. He was motionless. Just lying there as if exhausted from a run around the yard with Cooper. As I walked closer to him I could see Brock’s eyes were fixed on me, but he was not moving. I knew that look. Brock had either just died or died while I was walking toward him.

I scanned the yard to see what might have happened. Nothing. I threw myself down on the ground next to him. He was perfect. Not a hair out of place. I opened his mouth to see if he had choked. Nothing. I reached far down into his throat to see if there was an obstruction. Nothing. I tried to resuscitate him. Nothing. I got all 100 pounds of him up and in my arms and tried to do the Heimlich maneuver. Nothing. I called Cooper’s Mom to come and help. Eileen arrived immediately. Together we tried to revive Brock. Nothing. Together we carried him to my truck as we took Brock the mile and a half to the vet. They tried. Nothing. He was dead on arrival.

The vet wondered if Brock maybe had a heart attack, or a stroke or an aneurism. Maybe something got lodged in his wind pipe which I’d missed? We don’t know. All I could do was weep over the loss of one so young. So beautiful. So vibrant. A year and two weeks old. Why? How? What The _?!

That night as I went to sleep at my friend Erin’s house, I prayed to God as I tried to calm my mind, “Thank you for the gift of Brock. Thank you. Please, God, help me to make friends with the questions. Help me to surrender. Help me to trust. Help me to find peace. Help me to believe I did everything I could do to save him. Please. I need this. Please.”

IMG_1633I’ll never know what took Brock’s life; but what I do know is he was a good boy. A great companion. And every once in a while a real pain in the ass. He felt the same way about me, I assure you. I’d hoped we would live a long time in each other’s presence. Brock loved to come to Emmanuel. He loved to play with his two and four-legged friends. Brock loved life every day. In my mind’s eye he will remain forever young. And in my mind’s eye he is playing now with Brock I and Brock II and my brothers, Kevin and Brian.

Yes, I wish I had answers to the only question I have – what happened? And I trust God to manage what God thinks I can handle and what God thinks I cannot handle. Perhaps God wants me to grow some trust muscles. Perhaps muscles of surrender? I do not know. My best response is to thank God for the short precious amount of time my life and Brock’s life intersected.


IMG_1325To those who knew this story already, thank you for your prayers and expressions of love. You are much appreciated.

To those who did not know, my sincere apologies for dropping this on you. I’m sure you never expected to read this as we never expected to live this.

You are all in my thoughts and prayers. Thank you for keeping me in yours.

Peace friends,


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  • Michelle Tiller says:

    Way behind on your news, Chuck. Just seeing this now, and what a shock — so sorry! Anyway, we still think of you often and might just come to one of your services some day soon. Take care!

  • Albert Trotter says:

    losing such a puppy is really a great loss..

  • Michele says:

    You’re bro needed Brock. Love you !

  • Stacy Brinkley says:

    Oh Chuck! What a massive lost of a very loved fur baby! I am so very sorry! He was beautiful and wonderful – as are you! Much love my friend! I will keep you all in my thoughts and prayers!!!


  • Cathy says:

    Dear Chuck,

    I am so sorry. All Dogs Go to Heaven!!! I’m sure my Dad is rocking Ginger Number One in a rocker in Heaven. He has her in the crook of his arm, while she is laying on his lap with her paws in the air and he is rubbing her belly!!! Then, maybe a few Cheez-Its!!

    PEACE and prayers,

  • Christine Reilly says:

    We were so sorry about your loss, especially such a young, energetic, beautiful puppy! Sending hugs and prayers, and wishing we could take away your pain – but knowing that only God can heal these wounds. I know each Brock has left pawprints on your heart — hoping these memories will comfort you. Love you, my friend!

  • Alan & Ann Prochoroff says:

    so very sorry to hear of your loss. Praying for you and your family and the Brocks.

  • Tom Suydam says:

    He was the essence of a sweet boy. I loved him immediately. My heart broke at his loss. Love is fleeting. I must learn to be glad for every moment it is granted…like from Brock. Peace and comfort to you.

  • kathy davies says:

    Chuck you have had to deal with a lot of loss in your life family a religion health … you need to know that is some of the reasons people relate to you in your pain you share with us … you are one of the reasons we can try to bear our hurt you also are the person must of us feel we could come to you with our hurts …. I am so sorry you are hurting

  • Mary Jane says:

    Dear Chuck,
    I can’t imagine how painful this loss is for you. Those sweet, loving furry friends of so many of us are such an important part of our lives. So that when they leave…they leave an sad and empty place in our hearts. I hope that all these beautiful messages help you. God bless…

  • Rachelle says:

    Never expected to read that;what a shock! I am so sorry, Chuck. I hope he jumped the fence with joy. And I hope you know the same when you think of him. Prayers for you, my friend.

  • Leslie Dunbar says:

    Chuck…our thoughts and prayers are with you.
    May it comfort you to know that:
    “There is no death. Only a change of worlds.” ~Chief Seattle
    Leslie & Mark

  • Joan Cutlip-Spivey says:

    Dear Father Chuck,
    Losing such a sweet, young puppy is so sad! I cried for your loss and know you will eventually be soothed by the prayers and love that surrounds you.
    Our family, including Kerry and Pat, share our pets as an integral part of who we are. Each one lost hurts no matter the age or circumstance. God bless you.

  • Mary Paden says:

    Oh Chuck, I am so sorry. Brock III was one of the most beautiful pups I have ever seen and I know what he meant to you. What a sudden loss! I grieve with you. I lost a young pet once and remember him as one of my favorites. Death happens, dammit. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  • Rose says:

    Oh my God, Chuck, I’m overwhelmed to hear this news about Brock III. What an awful blow – please know Bud and I send our love and prayers along with everyone who has posted here. Small comfort but we know all the Brocks and Kevin and Brian.

  • Sam Faeth says:

    Dear Chuck,
    Sending my love and heartfelt condolences upon the loss of your beloved companion.

  • Darlene Spurlock says:

    I am heartbroken for your loss! I am praying for that peace that surpasses understanding. God bless you my friend. So tragic.
    Love, Darlene

  • Mary Pat Cornett says:


    Wow, what a painful surprise! I am so sorry for your sad loss. Brock III had a beautiful life. He certainly died doing what he loved. That doesn’t make it any easier on you.

    I remember Brian & Kevin and think of them often. They are still in their rightful place, by age, on the list of McCoart kids I memorized a lifetime ago. You have experienced more than your share of loss. Yet your faith and optimism grow stronger. Thank you for showing us how to grieve and go on and grow through the struggle.

    I remember your German Shepard growing up, Sarge or Colonel? You probably remember our little mutt, Fling. Where would we be without our pets? We are between dogs too, and miss our dogs, Abby & Nikita so much. It does get easier as you know, but not for a while.

    Hugs to you and your family!

    Mary Pat

  • mike mcmahon says:

    Dear Chuck:

    What in the world? This is such a blow for you! I’m in shock and I feel as though I want to cry!

    Over the weekend, I was doing my taxes and remembered that Brock II passed away on tax day last year. I thanked God for the wonderful pets that God has placed into our care and I thought about the peace that Brock III brought you in the aftermath of the death of Brock II!

    I’ll never forget the many simple acts of kindness that you showed me after Mazy died in June! One Sunday after church and soon after Mazy’s death you let me take Brock III for a walk. The kindness that you showed me along with the walk I took with your beautiful puppy was helpful in settling my mind and soothing my soul. You are a true friend, Chuck…a rare find! The only glimmer of joy that I can think of that would come from this is that Brian gained another “girl magnet” on his birthday! Nevertheless, I know that the heartbreak over the loss of Brock III is real and profound! Your are at the forefront of my thoughts and prayers! Peace be with you, Chuck and God bless Brock !!!!

    Your Friend,


  • Chris says:

    Dear Chuck, I am so very sorry to read this sad news. May it give you comfort to know Brock III was welcomed by Brian and Kevin, as well as my best friend, Doc Suz, a loving vet whom God called home at just 44 years young so she could be there to welcome all creatures great and small. Blessings of peace to you. Chris O., Ashburn, VA (former parishioner from St Mary of Sorrows)

  • Michelle Garden says:

    Dear Fr. Chuck,
    I am so very sorry! Our family has followed your life with Brock lll (and actually Brock ll as well) from the beginning. As dog lovers (and owners) we know how much these wonderful animals can mean to us. When our Irish Setter died 13 years ago, I wrote to you as my pastor, worrying that the death of a pet might be too trivial of a thing to bother you with. But I sought comfort from you, as my priest, and comfort you gave in the form of a beautiful and kind letter. I hope the knowledge that my family is sending prayers your way gives you some comfort. We pass your house often these days (I have a freshman at West Potomac) and we have gotten such pleasure and joy from seeing Brock lll and his dog buddies playing in your yard. We will miss seeing him! Meanwhile, we send lots of love and prayers your way and the hope that a Brock lV finds his way into your life when your heart is ready.
    The Garden Family

  • Joann Manzek says:

    Dear Chuck,
    I’m so, so sorry for the loss of Brock III & on Brian’s anniversary, too. I think when you get a dog to “perfect”, God chooses to bring him to Heaven for a special soul’s companion. Just be prepared for all the jumping & tail wagging when it’s your turn (hopefully years & years from now!).
    You are in my prayers. Joann

  • Jim says:

    Fr. Chuck,

    So sorry to hear about Brock. We met you and Brock at Quantico the afternoon my brother retired from the USMC this past October. You were there for a wedding rehearsal and had Brock with you. We were all struck by Brock’s beauty and how well behaved he was.

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you in your loss.

  • Lynn &Ted Thompson says:

    We are so, so sorry to hear about Brock. We enjoyed meeting him just the week before – full of energy and personality – and are praying the Lord will ease the pain.

    Lynn & Ted

  • Kathleen shaw says:

    Oh Chuch I along with so many of your friends are so sorry.Having lost 4 great furry friends can emphasize with you .They are so special in our lives. God bless Kathleen

  • Mary Margaret Green says:

    Chuck: I was stunned when I read this. I know how you loved Brock III and what a comfort and joy he was after the loss of Brock II. Thank you so much for sharing this. I truly believe that every time we share a hardship that we have had and how we have dealt with it, we help others prepare to deal with their own losses, however and whenever they come. You have had to deal with sudden death with both of your brothers as well, and that is especially hard. I hope sharing this with all of us who read your blog has brought you some relief and comfort. God bless.

  • Michele Bolos says:

    My heart broke when I read this blog posting. I have no idea what to say to someone who lost a loved one, let alone, one so young. Please know that I will pray that you get the answers that we are all wondering … why?

    Love you,

  • Jim & Roni Wright says:

    Chuck – (and I’m sure many of the members of the Emmanuel Episcopal Community) – We are so sorry. Words just don’t seem to express the profound loss that comes with this sort of experience. I harken back to a conversation you had with Roni once – and she was disconcerted that because dogs have no “soul” that they would not be in heaven. And you comforted her to say that if heaven is the place where we are eternally happy – how could there not be a place for our dogs? You are in our thoughts and prayers!! We had the wonderful opportunity to meet Brock II and III … and they were a JOY!! As in … running into a pile of leaves as a kid in the fall … kind of JOY!! Rest in the love and comfort that our Savior brings to us through our friends, loved ones and fellow travelers. God bless Chuck!!

    Jim & Roni

  • Nan Hall says:

    Thinking of you- so sorry about your loss.

  • Marty Potter (Rogers Family / Sister to Patty) says:

    Dear Chuck,

    I was so upset when I learned of Brock II’s passing. I can’t tell you how much the Rogers family, and my son Brian and I instantly loved him upon meeting him. I had looked forward to seeing him again someday. Tears have welled up in my eyes and the ache in my throat is killing me.

    May I suggest that Brock II was never meant to be here long. Perhaps this is the reason he was given the best life he could have – the one with you. No dog could have a greater blessing then to be with someone as kind and loving.

    Don’t let your loss be a leaking whole in your heart but rather an opening gently prepared for more love to come in. A greater love and increased faith can be his legacy.

  • barbara. says:

    So very sorry to hear this. Prayers for comfort are ascending!

  • Courtney says:

    Hang in there Chuck! Brock III was lucky to have you got his short life!

  • Jack Pitzer says:

    Peace Chuck == we are grieving in the Hayfield gang too for the recent loss of a good friend who had moved to Denver and became a Deacon out there — Jerry Kotas. He was just here this past spring!! Cancer came and took him in just a few months. He was loving their dog LIlly who was his campanion during the awful chemo and shit.!! A whole bunch of us are going to CO,. Hugs – Jack P

  • Helaire says:

    Chuck, I am so, so sorry. Such heartbreaking news.

  • Val Bundren says:

    So sorry to learn of your sad loss. I know how special and treasured all
    your Brocks have been.
    I feel certain God will send you the “muscle strength and support ” you need.

    God bless you, Fr. Chuck

  • Kathy McCleary says:

    Chuck! Chuck! No! I kept thinking this had to be your memory from Brock II not III. And certainly NOT ON March 13th??? I am truly so very sorry for your pain, for your loss…your questioning is absolutely expected.

    I just finished reading Chapter 6 of Richard Rohr’s “Falling Upward” titled “Necessary Suffering.” Well blast. Why? I get what he’s saying (after several re-readings) still. blast.

    Sending you my loves and a hug hug on the wings of a prayer.

  • sean says:



  • Fred Blycher says:

    Extremely sorry to hear this news, please know you are in my thoughts and prayers. Our dog Scout is another loved member of our family and we cannot imagine life without him. I have forwarded this to Maureen and Dan so they can read about Brock’s passing. Very sorry for your loss.

  • Irene Henrikson says:

    I a so sorry for your heartbreak. We have a sweet dog who is a joy in our retired life. You now need Brock IV

  • Colleen Kalil says:

    Chuck, My heart is breaking… I am so sorry to hear about this. Sending lots of thoughts and love your way.

  • R. Scott Krejci says:

    I weep with you for the loss of Brock and one so young. Why? What happened?
    What more could I have done? These are such basic questions we ask when death happens. But we are often left to grieve with these questions unanswered. I am so sorry and pray that solitude and time will eventually provide consolation and peace.
    I still miss my dog of 17 years and he’s been dead 20 years now. You and Cooper are in my prayers.

  • Barbara Cotter says:

    Chuck, I am so very sorry and I pray with you for muscles of trust and surrender.

    I read in a book once that “Heaven must be wonderful indeed to make up for all the things we miss by being dead” Imagine Brock’s excitement to find two brothers of
    the one he loved waiting for him. Heaven must be wonderful. It’s only we who weep for those we have lost.

  • Kathy says:

    I have no words. Just thoughts of sincere sympathy for you.

  • Katie says:

    Dear Fr. Chuck,

    Tears in my eyes again today as they were last night when Sarah told me. I am so, so sorry for your loss of your very fine friend. I know how it feels, I think. Our pets are
    SO special. We wish you peace and healing.

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