First Christmas Eve

Don’t let anyone ever tell you Christmas in New York is magical. Sure, there’s the humongous tree with the televised lighting ceremony, and the department store windows that get more elaborately beautiful each year, and the Rockettes kicking away at Radio City, but you know what else there is?

Slush. Massive, unavoidable puddles of it.

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A Halloween Tale

I can’t imagine any sadder place for a kid to be on Halloween than stuck in a hospital, can you? I think it’s almost worse than being there on Christmas. Family and presents can come to you in most cases, but Halloween is about wearing a costume and going out with your friends and eating tons of candy. Try doing any of that from a sickbed.

Quint’s hospital works to make it still a special day for their patients, though, which is where Jagger and I come in. Every year, we dress up and visit as many kids as possible in their rooms. We’re not the only therapy dog/handler team that does that, of course, but we’re the only ones who also put on shows in each of the playrooms for any kids well enough to attend. What kind of shows? Google “canine musical freestyle” and you’ll get a good idea. We don’t do it competitively, but we are good enough that the hospital’s development office asked us to perform at their Masquerade Ball fundraiser this year.

It was all going swimmingly, until…

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Hard Choices



Seb froze, his pencil lead barely brushing the paper, listening to the footsteps cross the studio. A moment later, the side door opened and closed. He relaxed. Zain would look for him on the roof or up a tree first. Checking them all would keep him occupied for awhile — perhaps long enough for Seb to pull his thoughts together.

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When You Fall Like a Statue

lanai: veranda (Hawaiian)
habibi: my beloved (Arabic)
désolé: sorry (French)

Zain whistled “The Bare Necessities” as he took the final curve before their driveway. If he timed it perfectly, the song would end just as the break in the trees cleared the view to the ocean, stretching out from the low cement wall and strip of rocky beach at the edge of their backyard. He smiled when he saw it. Couldn’t beat that view in Hawaii, especially at the price Seb’s parents charged them for rent. He turned into the driveway and parked his Jeep behind Seb’s Fiat, getting out almost before the engine died and heading directly for the side door, to the small “ohana unit” they’d converted into a studio. Knowing his fiancé, that was where he’d be.

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Introducing Seb and Zain

picture of SebSébastien Leon McKenna Crews was born on February 18th, 1994 in Santa Cruz, California as the youngest of four children. He was bilingual from a very young age, thanks to his French-Irish mother, and often slips into French if he’s under great physical or emotional stress. Just after he turned seven, he began to rapidly lose weight and was constantly exhausted and thirsty. His parents took him to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and put on an insulin regimen. His parents worked hard to make sure he could do the same things his brother and sisters did despite his illness, but Seb still felt different and weak compared to them. Naturally introverted, he would disappear for hours at a time, usually to someplace high, and use art as a means to escape. He is talented, quiet, deeply spiritual, and self-conscious. When he was fourteen, he got a summer job at the Santa Cruz boardwalk, where he met Zain.

picture of ZainCorporal Zain Ayman Mohyeldin was born on April 4th, 1993 in Los Angeles, California as the oldest of three children. His parents were originally from Egypt, so he’s bilingual as well, in English and Arabic. The family moved to Santa Cruz when he was fifteen, where he immediately started working at the boardwalk. Seb became his first friend in town. At the end of the summer, Zain went to live with Seb’s family after telling his own he was gay. The attraction they had always felt towards each other led to a relationship. Joining the US Marine Corps was Zain’s childhood dream, but he decided he had already given up so much to be out of the closet, he didn’t want to go back in because of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. He waited to enlist until May of 2011, when he was 18 and after it was repealed. Still, he had to keep his sexuality a secret until the repeal went into effect in September of that year. In October, he was deployed for seven months to Afghanistan. When he returned, he was assigned to duty on Marine Corps Base Hawaii. He is loyal, goofy, affectionate, and charismatic. Seb and he live off-base and are engaged to be married.

House in Hawaii (before remodeling)