Authors Posts by Barbara Anne Kirshner

Barbara Anne Kirshner


When Lucky Dog premiered in 2013, viewers quickly fell in love with host Brandon McMillan, who rescued 'unadoptable' dogs from animal shelters across the United States.

By Barbara Anne Kirshner

Several years ago, on a Saturday, as I flipped through the channels on the television, I came upon a reality show titled Lucky Dog. As an animal lover, I was curious to find out “Why were these dogs so lucky?” I got my answer in affable host and trainer, Brandon McMillan, who seemed committed to securing forever homes for unwanted shelter dogs.

Each week, Mc Millan took his audience on a journey that featured an “unadoptable” canine. Through his seven common commands of sit, stay, down, come, off, heel and no, the discarded dog transformed into a loving, well-behaved pet. McMillan then matched the dog to perspective owners and even conducted lifestyle training to further meld animal to adopter. In one instance, McMillan taught a dog to surf so he could join his new buddy on the waves.

When Lucky Dog premiered in 2013, viewers quickly fell in love with host Brandon McMillan, who rescued ‘unadoptable’ dogs from animal shelters across the United States.

The scenario of the show was always the same. It began with McMillan at his Lucky Dog Ranch training a rescue when the distress call from a local animal shelter alerted him of an overlooked dog headed for euthanasia. McMillan dashed to the shelter at the eleventh hour, headed down that sterile hallway of gated scared dogs until he faced the one needing instant saving. He would open the gate, go inside the kennel, sit next to the cowering creature, speaking gently all the while. Once the canine settled, McMillan would say, “Let’s get out of here.” And off they happily went together. 

The first stop was at the vet for a complete physical that confirmed the dog was healthy for training, then off to McMillan’s Lucky Dog Ranch where a red training collar was snapped on followed by introductions to other lucky dog rescues. McMillan then matched the dog to the best adopter and did a home inspection. In one episode, he arranged for sod to make the backyard dog friendly.

Then came the magical day when the rescue would meet the forever family. In the final scene, McMillan always delighted the adopters by showing up unannounced with new charge in tow. As a sign that the dog had completed training, McMillan would replace the red collar with a green graduation collar then kiss the dog and turn it over to the happy new owners. Cue the violin strings and take out your tissues! I always dissolved in happy tears for the lucky dog and the lucky family.

The mantra, ”From hopeless to home, that’s our mission, one dog at a time” was the final sound cue over the credits.

At the start of January 2021, I and millions of other Lucky Dog followers were suddenly struck with the disappointment of no show! At first, I thought it had been pre-empted for a week, but on the following Saturday still no Lucky Dog. That’s when I googled the show and discovered Brandon McMillan had stepped away from his Emmy award winning series. 

In an Instagram post dated October 2020, McMillan announced that his 182nd episode was his last. The reason given for this sudden departure was clashes with CBS over the direction the show was headed.

He explained:

“As the years went on big money started pouring into the show which meant more cooks in the kitchen making decisions. This is where Hollywood can take a great idea and turn it into a money driven business.”

McMillan concluded:

“When the fun gets taken out of a tv show then it’s no longer fun to show up. This was a serious show that saved the lives of hundreds of dogs. Mission accomplished. But this is not the end … it’s just the beginning.”

For McMillan fans like me, he left us with a glimmer of hope that he would continue saving dogs and maybe start a new animal series.

Last Saturday, I happened onto CBS at 10 a.m. and to my surprise I heard the Lucky Dog theme and saw the Lucky Dog Ranch logo. My euphoria however was quickly squashed when the images of a husband and wife team, Eric Wiese and Rashi Khanna Wiese, replaced McMillan as the hosts. 

The scenario remained the same with a few minor changes. At the start of this episode, instead of McMillan training a rescue dog, Wiese was training his own dog. Isn’t the rescue message missing in that? Tasks were split with Wiese training while his wife matched dog to owner. Another difference was instead of McMillan’s trademark red training collar followed by the green graduation collar; Wiese started with a silver tag traded for a gold tag. 

Every other aspect of the old show remained intact making this a weird déjà vu experience. There was the anxious call from the shelter alerting imminent euthanasia for an unwanted dog. They even had a Lucky Dog Ranch, but there were no dogs in training. Wiese incorporated McMillan’s same seven training commands plus the lifestyle lesson. Then the ultimate “good-bye” with dog handed to family. The final mantra was even the same. One can only hope McMillan is collecting royalties for the use of all his ideas.

But will the Lucky Dog fans accept these two new hosts? They seem pleasant, but McMillan’s passion for saving animals is missing. Everything is calculated with no original stamp from this couple and how long have they have been in the dog training business? Their Lucky Dog Ranch was empty. CBS took pains to copy the award winning formula, but in my opinion, this version will fail without McMillan at the helm to swoop in wearing his heart on his sleeve saving dogs and loyal viewers alike.

Miller Place resident Barbara Anne Kirshner is a freelance journalist, playwright and author of “Madison Weatherbee —The Different Dachshund.”

Photo from Barbara Anne Kirshner

By Barbara Anne Kirshner

LIPSTICK — the outward expression of our inward feelings. If we are happy, we choose cheery colors, if we are down we might gravitate toward the more subdued. Lip color also strategically complements our outfits. For the power suit, we go for bold tones; for comfy weekends, we seek naturals. We celebrate the seasons with rich russet and brown shades for autumn, reds for merry winter holidays, pastels for blossoming springtime and bright playful oranges for carefree summer. 

Lipstick has been our crowning accessory for centuries starting with Sumerian men and women who created it from natural substances like fruits, henna, clay rust and insects. Mesopotamian women ground precious jewels to add color and shimmer to lips. Egyptians like Cleopatra created striking shades of purple and black from carmine dye derived from grounded cochineal insects. 

Through the centuries, lip color has been a barometer for our culture and personal expression. 

In the 19th century, only actors and actresses wore it for stage, though not in public. Sarah Bernhardt, the famous actress, was one of the first to wear lip color in public. 

By 1920, lip products gained a place in everyday lives of women. James Bruce Mason Jr. created the first swivel tube in 1923 which is still used today. When women gained the right to vote, lipstick was their symbol  of feminism.

Lip color gained popularity in the 1930’s heading into the 1940’s when, during World War II, red lips were considered a boost to the morale. Besame’s American Beauty was one of the most popular shades of red.

The 1950’s saw women copying their favorite Hollywood stars like Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn who were glamorously adorned in bold reds. 60% of all teenage girls at the time wore lipstick. Even Queen Elizabeth II got into the craze by creating her own shade to match her coronation robe which was customized by Clarin’s and named after her Scottish country home, The Balmoral.

The 60’s and 70’s saw a variety of lip shades inspired from pop culture. Corals were prominent with Maybelline’s Orange Danger topping the market. Flavored lip products such as Bonnie Bell’s ‘Lip Smackers’ gained popularity especially with the teen market.

Shimmers and glosses were the ‘in’ thing for the 80’s. Bold reds were back as an expression of power dressing. Hot pinks became the rage for the dance crowds and Goth lips for the alternative sub-culture.

In the 90’s environmental consciousness demanded chemical free, more natural formulas for lip products. The big craze of the 90’s was outlining with dark lip pencils and filling in with lighter lipstick. Mac and Urban Decay were born.

Shine and lip glosses were back in the 2000’s. Now, there are endless varieties of lip colors and formulas to match any whim. We can go from that natural look with nudes to outrageous choices like green, yellow and blue.

Lip products evolved into a global multi-billion dollar industry which had been expected to reach 13.11 billion dollars in 2020. This healthy market was on its way to breaking records when COVID hit and we found ourselves shielded behind masks that covered those colorful lips. At first, we continued to paint, but quickly realized not only didn’t anyone see our efforts, but we stained our masks in the process. We were reduced to a simple swipe of clear gloss to moisturize, but no need for anything else.

The lip product market as well as the entire beauty industry drastically fell in 2020 as a result of the pandemic making last year historically one of the worst. McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm, predicts makeup sales will continue being soft for the foreseeable future since for a time at least, when consumers return to the workplace, masks will be a required part of the uniform which will further slow lipstick’s recovery.

Anxious for COVID to evaporate as suddenly as it moved in ravaging life as we knew it, we thirst for normalcy. We want to rip off those masks that sequester us from the world so we may once more display our signature look enhanced by every color of the rainbow and then some. We long to return to our creativity applying shines, glosses, sheers, shimmers, creams, frosts, satins, metallics, mattes and pencils. We long for that vibrant or dramatic look that only our old friend lipstick can provide.

BUT until that fateful day we are resigned to — NO LIPSTICK REQUIRED!!


— Gerstell, Emily, Marchessou, Sophie, Schmidt, Jennifer, Spagnuolo, Emma. “How Covid-19 is changing the world of beauty.” McKinsey & Company. May 2020.

— Sengupta, Avipsha. “A Complete History of Lipstick.” October 9, 2020.

— “100 Years of Lipstick: Looking Through Trends Over the Decades.” Beauty October 3, 2019.

Miller Place resident Barbara Anne Kirshner is a freelance journalist, playwright and author of “Madison Weatherbee —The Different Dachshund.”

Jo Ann Havrilla in a scene from 'Stephen Wins the Olympics' with Stephen Colbert

By Barbara Anne Kirshner

Dreams do come true. How terribly worthless and dull life would be if we didn’t aspire for something even though we might be surrounded by those voices of “reason” warning us to be practical. But sometimes that dream plays out in ways we never would have imagined.

Jo Ann Havrilla

Take acting for instance. What does it mean to be an “actress”? Is it someone walking the red carpet, cameras flashing, posing in a sequined Versace gown and dripping in Harry Winston diamonds? Is it making major motion pictures or bowing on a lavish Broadway stage to enthusiastic applause or being featured on a long-running television series?

There’s Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, and Viola Davis living the dream; all household names commanding oodles of money acquired from the wheelings and dealings of big-time agents securing Academy Award-worthy roles for them. But not all actresses luck out with this iconic recognition. In fact, most don’t “make it.”

“There’s a broken heart for every light on Broadway” is an adage that holds much credence. Many come to the Great White Way in search of a life in the theater, but few receive the recognition that Lin-Manuel Miranda with his Hamilton has enjoyed. 

There are some actors who aren’t house-hold names, yet they manage to earn a living wage doing what they love.

Meet 70-year-old working actress, Jo Ann Havrilla, who grew up in Jericho. She pursued the dream refusing to give up. That persistence paid off with some major motion pictures, television, stage and commercials. What makes Havrilla stand out as a formidable presence is her greater than life upbeat nature, energetic persona and timing equal to that of Carol Burnett.

Hers is a life of perseverance. At 23 years of age, she moved from her family’s Jericho home to a studio apartment in Manhattan where she resides to this day with her husband, Brad Firminger.

She earned her equity card while in her early twenties and doors opened for professional stage work.

Jo Ann Havrilla in a scene from ‘Hairspray’

Havrilla’s ability to play characters of all ages, especially those much older than her years, landed her the role at age 38 of Prudence Pingleton, the overprotective mother of Tracy Turnblad’s friend, Penny, in John Waters’ 1988 cult classic film Hairspray. 

In 1989, Havrilla appeared as  Boolie Werthan’s loyal secretary, Miss McClatchey, in another classic film, Driving Miss Daisy, this time with the legends, Morgan Freeman and Jessica Tandy. That same year she was in the Tom Selleck, James Farentino film, Her Alibi.

A role on the 1989-1990 television series True Blue followed the films. Other television credits include All My Children, One Life to Live and the Michael J. Fox series, Spin City. 

In 2004 Havrilla was featured in the comedic role of diner waitress Maxine  in the short film Sara Goes to Lunch which received recognition at the 2005 Fargo Film Festival.  

In 2010, Havrilla landed a role on Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report opposite Stephen Colbert performing in a satirical skit titled “Stephen Wins the Olympics.” Havrilla played Colbert’s coach, Svetlana Oranskaya, strong as nails with a thick Russian accent. Her hysterical performance made the scene so successful that she was invited back during the 2014 Olympics to recreate Oranskaya. Hopefully, Colbert will resurrect Oranskaya during this coming summer’s Olympics. 

In 2018 the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences celebrated the 30th anniversary of the making of Hairspray by reuniting Havrilla and the cast with their director, John Waters, at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Los Angeles. 

Much commercial work and personal speaking appearances keep her busy to date. Havrilla centers her talks on her lengthy career and what it was like working with some of the most prominent personalities in show business. She enjoys retelling how John Waters worked with a mere budget of 2 million dollars, making it imperative for the actors to nail the scenes on the first take. 

Havrilla knows she has been lucky though her name may not trip off your tongue. But look through magazines or newspapers and you just might see her inviting grin or watch the original 1988 Hairspray, Driving Miss Daisy or Her Alibi and see her doing what she loves best — being a working actress.

Her advice is don’t ever give up. Your dream may not materialize quite as you envision, but persistence pays off. Doors will open and opportunities will unfold. Believe in yourself and you can make dreams happen.

Postscript: Havrilla’s inspirational message of ‘never giving up’ happened in a dramatic way on January 26, 2021, when 48-year-old country singer/songwriter, Thad Cockrell debuted on The Tonight Show, getting a chance of a lifetime to perform his original song “Swingin” remotely with the Tonight Show band, The Roots. 

This story is as fantastic as it gets. Jimmy Fallon heard Cockrell’s anthem song while he was in  the local hardware store. The lyrics, with the motivating chorus “If I’m gonna go down, I wanna go down swinging,” so impressed Fallon that he invited Cockrell, who had been a struggling artist for decades, to perform his song on The Tonight Show. Cockrell’s album, If In Case You Feel the Same, released in 2020, hit number three on iTunes, shooting him to instant success.

Miller Place resident Barbara Anne Kirshner is a freelance journalist, playwright and author of “Madison Weatherbee —The Different Dachshund.”

By Barbara Anne Kirshner

In this strange new world of plexiglass partitions, floor stamps marking 6 foot separations and arrows directing us down aisles, it is comforting to climb those creaky wooden steps, open that squeaky green door, enter the circa 1857 house that is the St James General Store and travel back to colonial times.

I was first introduced to this singular establishment as a little girl by my Aunt Nancy who lived in Smithtown. Upon entering the store, I was met with a delectable, sweet scent that wafted through the air. Rows of glass canisters housing assorted old-fashioned candies from licorice to malted milk balls to nonpareils to ribbon candy to fudge was enough to make any child’s eyes sparkle, especially a child with a sweet tooth as big as mine. 

We walked down the long aisle opposite the candy counter where bric-a-brac reminiscent of the Victorian era was displayed. Toward the back of that counter was a glass case containing one of a kind pieces of jewelry.

The back room of the store was a treat for any child and child at heart with displays of old fashioned toys including Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls, wooden yoyos, assorted crafts and stuffed animals. 

Opposite the toy counter was a rack of beautiful hats hinting of Victorian charm in an array of colors and decorated with ribbons, flowers or feathers. Shelves of unique scarves and gloves were arranged next to the hat rack.

We rounded the corner and headed up the rickety wooden staircase to a large room that contained a library divided into sections with books related to Long Island, children’s literature, travel and Victorian genre.

Beyond the book section, we stepped into the Christmas room where we were met with an enchanting kingdom of Christmas trees decorated with unique ornaments, stars and angels.

After my Aunt Nancy and I completed our tour, we returned to the candy counter where she invited me to choose some confection as a souvenir of our visit. I went for my favorites, the malted milk balls. As she drove us back to her house, I popped one of these delectable treats in my mouth letting it luxuriously melt away. To my delight, this tasty morsel seemed triple wrapped in rich milk chocolate; easily the best version of itself I have ever tasted and I pride myself on being a malted milk ball connoisseur.

I have returned to the St. James General Store at different stages in my life and to my delight everything has always remained the same. I have brought friends and family there, eager to see their eyes light up at every twist and turn.

I recently returned to the store for the first time since this COVID pandemic assaulted all our lives. Though the woman behind the candy counter is now separated from the public by plexiglass, I emitted a great big sigh of relief taking comfort in the familiarity from within. Everything is the same as I remember dating back to my first visit with my beloved Aunt Nancy.

If you would like a trip back to a happier, simpler time, stop into the St. James General Store where a sense of comfort will swaddle you the moment you step beyond that green door.

Miller Place resident Barbara Anne Kirshner is a freelance journalist, playwright and author of “Madison Weatherbee —The Different Dachshund.”

All photos by Barbara Anne Kirshner

Park the Christmas Puppy

By Barbara Anne Kirshner

Author Barbara Anne Kirshner with her dog Park

Every December 21st, I pause in the midst of all the hectic Christmas preparations to hold my dachshund, Park, just a little closer and give thanks for the treasures he has brought since he joined our family on that fateful day 14 years ago.

How could I have known when we met, he would bring such companionship, love and countless gifts into my life?

Maybe if I had known, I would have scooped him up the minute I laid eyes on him instead of being so hesitant to add him to our little family.

It was September 2006 when my husband, Gregg, and our two dachshunds, Madison and Lexington, went for a walk in Port Jefferson and wound up in the local pet store. 

The girl behind the counter looked at our brood and said, “You’re dachshund people. There’s a little boy here who needs some attention.” And with that she reached into one of the cages behind the sales counter and brought out a little long-hair black and tan dachshund. As she rested him on the counter, he became the clown that this breed is known for and stood way up on hind legs. He kept that pose amidst oooohs and aaaahs from passersby. He certainly left a big impression, but having three dogs was something I never imagined. 

Once his little act ended, he was sent back to the cage behind the counter and we went home. 

That was but our first encounter with the boy.

Every time Gregg and I went into Port Jefferson, we’d stop at the pet store sure that the pup would be gone, but he remained in that cage — waiting.

As time went on, he was moved from the preferred placement at the front of the store to be that puppy in the window with a pal, a long hair red dachshund.

The next time I visited, the red doxie was gone, but the black and tan boy was now in a cage at the front of a long line of cages. That’s when things started to get pathetic for him.

A few weeks later, he had been moved to one of the middle cages in the long line. Finally, he was relegated to the very last cage at the back of the store.

Park the Christmas Puppy

On December 20, 2006, Gregg and I went to Port Jefferson curious to see if the boy was still there. We fantasized that a loving young couple came to the store, saw this was indeed a very special pup and he was gone.

When we got to the pet store, I couldn’t go inside. I told Gregg to go and come back with happy news that the pup had found his forever home.

I went into a nearby boutique trying to busy myself half looking at items, anxious for the update. 

Gregg rushed to me; alarm etched on his face. “Not only is he still there, but he looks despondent!” That was the word Gregg used:  “despondent.”

I rushed out of that boutique and into the pet store. I ran to the back of the store and sure enough, there he was with his face turned toward the wall.

I called, “Park! Park!” I had the name, an unusual name but perfect if he were to join the doxie pack of Madison and Lexington.

Upon hearing my voice, he looked over his shoulder and stared me down. His unspoken words screamed at me. “If you don’t get me out of this hell hole, don’t bother to come back!”

Gregg leaned over my shoulder and asked, “What should we do?”

I looked from Gregg back to that sad little pup who had been stuck behind those bars for the past four months and then I fled from that pet store.

Conflicting thoughts flooded in. It was December 20th, four days before Christmas Eve when we would host the family dinner followed by Christmas Day when we would be at my sister’s house. On top of the hectic Christmas schedule, I was opening in the New Year’s show at Arena Repertory. I still had to memorize the last remaining scenes.

And on top of that was the gnawing hesitation that I never had a male dog, only female dogs. This was a completely different world I knew nothing about. I was overwhelmed with worry thoughts.

We left Port Jefferson and the sad little pup behind. 

The next day was Monday, December 21st. I had to teach, but Gregg started his Christmas break. When I got home, I headed for my study complaining that I had to get those lines memorized.

But Gregg said, “You can’t do that right now.” I halted and looked at him.

He went on, “Well, I went back to Port Jefferson to the pet store and he was still there and well, now he’s ours. Merry Christmas — he’s your Christmas present!”

I looked around expecting the pup to come bounding out from another room. 

“He’s at the pet store being groomed right now. I wanted us to pick him up together like we did with Madison and Lexington. So, come on, let’s get your Christmas present. When we get home, you can go into your study to work and I’ll take care of the little guy,” Gregg reassured me. 

Conflicting feelings rushed in — excitement, anticipation, hesitation, worry and concern. How could I get everything done with a new pup under foot?

From left, Lexington, Melissa Tulip and Park Kirshner

We went to pick up the little man. He was ushered out from the grooming room, long black fur gleaming and a big, red Christmas bow bobbing around his neck.

Park was placed in my arms and from that day to this, he has never been far from my hugs and kisses. He is my Velcro boy, always there for me. When I’m sad, he licks my tears away. When I’m up in the middle of the night, I hear those now familiar footsteps approach from down the hall. He stays by my side watching over me until sleep returns. 

He is my travel companion. Wherever we go, people flock to him. Cars stop short to admire the precious boy. People have even called out, “That’s the most beautiful dog I’ve ever seen!”

I thank them, then shake my head and wonder how such a magnetic little man spent his early life behind bars, completely passed over by all who came in and out of that well-trafficked store.

When Christmas rolls around each year, I thank Gregg for the best Christmas present I ever got. His response is always the same, “I’ll never be able to top that gift, right?” 


Oh, and that Christmas Eve dinner 2006, it went smoothly with Park the hit of the party. AND I didn’t miss one line opening night of that New Year’s show.

Miller Place resident Barbara Anne Kirshner is a freelance journalist, playwright and author of “Madison Weatherbee —The Different Dachshund.”


All photos courtesy of Barbara Anne Kirshner

By Barbara Anne Kirshner

“My only hesitation about visiting the exhibit hall on July 3rd to write the article on your motorcycle exhibit is that my dachshund Park’s birthday is that day. I know it must sound silly, but I don’t want to leave him at home on his birthday. He’s a perfect little gentleman when he travels, so could I possibly bring him with me?”

The cheerful voice of the curator replied, “I love dogs. I don’t mind at all. In fact, I think it’s sweet you don’t want to leave him home on his birthday. Anyway, we’re very dog friendly.”

I assured her, “We have a stroller that he loves, so he won’t be just walking around the exhibit hall.” “No problem. I’m looking forward to meeting him,” she responded cheerily.

We arrived at the Ward Melville Heritage Organization’s Educational and Cultural Center, an impressive white colonial style building with black shutters anchoring Stony Brook Village, at the appointed time. We must have been a sight indeed with a long-haired dachshund in a stroller heading into the lobby.

A smiling woman with a bubbly voice met us. “Nice to meet you,” she extended her hand in greeting then looked in the stroller. “And this must be Park, the birthday boy.” Park’s head cocked to one side at the sound of his name. In addition to Park and his stroller, I was laden by my shoulder bag filled with writing pads and pens, my cell phone to record if necessary and my camera; all of which had to be juggled to accept the hand extended in greeting.

She led us into her office where I got a run-down of the fifty different bikes on display. Then she escorted us into the exhibition hall where a guided tour was provided.

As we strolled our way around each cycle with me snapping pictures and scribbling notes, the curator, a font of knowledge, filled in the historic facts connected to some of the cycles. My boy sat with his head leaning on the front bar of his stroller just taking in the sights and listening attentively to her explanations as if he understood and appreciated the information. I wrote feverishly trying to latch on to every word she spoke with back up of my cell phone recorder for anything missed.

Our tour lasted over two hours and at the end the curator marveled at how well-behaved Park was the entire time.

“Well, you must do something special for this very good boy,” she said.

“I intend to,” I agreed.

She suggested, “If you go back toward the main road, you will come to a fork, make the right, that will bring you up a hill toward the stores on the right and a big lawn, a park, on the left. He might enjoy the park.”

“Perfect,” I exclaimed. “Park does enjoy going to parks!”

We giggled at that, then Park and I took off in the direction of the lawn and quaint shops. We came upon a restaurant named Latitude 121 then but has since changed management and is now called Sweet Mama’s. This restaurant has an ice cream parlor in the front where Park and I stopped for a few scoops of vanilla. He licked the cup clean, then followed it up with a water chaser. Once satiated, we explored the great lawn fronting the Stony Brook Village shopping area.

An inviting bench seemed to call to us so we took up brief residence there. A slight breeze played with Park’s luxurious long ears as we sat immersed in this picturesque setting. In the distance, boats and kayaks glided leisurely over the tranquil waters of Long Island Sound. People on blankets or beach chairs dotted the lawn. Some passed by, smiled at my little man who seemed perfectly content to take in the summer day sitting by my side on that bench. A peacefulness embraced us. We were two friends who took a break from life’s hectic activity to cherish this moment in time on my boy’s birthday. We were happy, content, carefree, and undisturbed by the bustle of life.

A few weeks later, Park and I were back at Park’s bench, this time to celebrate my birthday. And every July 3rd and again on July 16th Park and I return to our Stony Brook bench that I nicknamed Park’s bench to celebrate our birthdays. We enjoy stepping out of our busy lives to luxuriate in the serenity of these pastoral surroundings.

Park is 14 years old now, but still healthy and strong. I don’t know how many future birthdays we will be blessed to share together, but even after he is no longer in this world, I will visit Park’s bench and give thanks for the times we spent here together. And I’m sure my boy will look down at me from his place in heaven and find some way to let me know he is still sitting next to me on Park’s bench.

Miller Place resident Barbara Anne Kirshner  is a freelance journalist, playwright and author of ‘Madison Weatherbee —The Different Dachshund.’