Who hasn't loved and lost a dog?
If your loss is fresh, or still raw after so many years, read no farther.
Please add any poems I've missed, or books, or your own thoughts about your own beloved dogs.
@negativer, your collie - not taken by death, but by a parent's decision to rehome the dog - will haunt me all the days of my life. Yes, I'm toying with the idea of hosting a writing contest with the theme of dogs who changed our lives. Someone stop me. If nothing else, inertia usually gets in the way of me following through on thoughts like these.
Dog = God spelled backward
Another Dog’s Death
by John Updike
For days the good old bitch had been dying, her back
pinched down to the spine and arched to ease the pain,
her kidneys dry, her muzzle white. At last
I took a shovel into the woods and dug her grave
in preparation for the certain. She came along,
which I had not expected. Still, the children gone,
such expeditions were rare, and the dog,
spayed early, knew no nonhuman word for love.
She made her stiff legs trot and let her bent tail wag.
We found a spot we liked, where the pines met the field.
The sun warmed her fur as she dozed and I dug;
I carved her a safe place while she protected me.
I measured her length with the shovel’s long handle;
she perked in amusement, and sniffed the heaped-up earth.
Back down at the house, she seemed friskier,
but gagged, eating. We called the vet a few days later.
They were old friends. She held up a paw, and he
injected a violet fluid. She swooned on the lawn;
we watched her breathing quickly slow and cease.
In a wheelbarrow up to the hole, her warm fur shone.
Here's a wee bit of better news!
As explained by the pet owner’s son, writer Franklin Hardy, on Twitter, the vet called to say the dog needed to be put down. But, no need to come into the office, the doctor said: He’d do the deed at their home. “My dad dug the dog’s grave and let the dog watch,” Hardy wrote. But it was all for naught when the vet realized he’d made a mistake after all. “Then the vet came and checked the dog and said it was a false alarm,” he wrote along with photos of the pup alongside his intended grave.
A Dog Has Died
BY PABLO NERUDA
TRANSLATED BY ALFRED YANKAUER
My dog has died.
I buried him in the garden
next to a rusted old machine.
Some day I'll join him right there,
but now he's gone with his shaggy coat,
his bad manners and his cold nose,
and I, the materialist, who never believed
in any promised heaven in the sky
for any human being,
I believe in a heaven I'll never enter.
Yes, I believe in a heaven for all dogdom
where my dog waits for my arrival
waving his fan-like tail in friendship.
Ai, I'll not speak of sadness here on earth,
of having lost a companion
who was never servile.
His friendship for me, like that of a porcupine
withholding its authority,
was the friendship of a star, aloof,
with no more intimacy than was called for,
with no exaggerations:
he never climbed all over my clothes
filling me full of his hair or his mange,
he never rubbed up against my knee
like other dogs obsessed with sex.
No, my dog used to gaze at me,
paying me the attention I need,
the attention required
to make a vain person like me understand
that, being a dog, he was wasting time,
but, with those eyes so much purer than mine,
he'd keep on gazing at me
with a look that reserved for me alone
all his sweet and shaggy life,
always near me, never troubling me,
and asking nothing.
Ai, how many times have I envied his tail
as we walked together on the shores of the sea
in the lonely winter of Isla Negra
where the wintering birds filled the sky
and my hairy dog was jumping about
full of the voltage of the sea's movement:
my wandering dog, sniffing away
with his golden tail held high,
face to face with the ocean's spray.
Joyful, joyful, joyful,
as only dogs know how to be happy
with only the autonomy
of their shameless spirit.
There are no good-byes for my dog who has died,
and we don't now and never did lie to each other.
So now he's gone and I buried him,
and that's all there is to it.
by John Updike
She must have been kicked unseen or brushed by a car.
Too young to know much, she was beginning to learn
To use the newspapers spread on the kitchen floor
And to win, wetting there, the words, "Good dog! Good dog!"
We thought her shy malaise was a shot reaction.
The autopsy disclosed a rupture in her liver.
As we teased her with play, blood was filling her skin
And her heart was learning to lie down forever.
Monday morning, as the children were noisily fed
And sent to school, she crawled beneath the youngest's bed.
We found her twisted and limp but still alive.
In the car to the vet's, on my lap, she tried
To bite my hand and died. I stroked her warm fur
And my wife called in a voice imperious with tears.
Though surrounded by love that would have upheld her,
Nevertheless she sank and, stiffening, disappeared.
Back home, we found that in the night her frame,
Drawing near to dissolution, had endured the shame
Of diarrhoea and had dragged across the floor
To a newspaper carelessly left there. Good dog.
The House Dog's Grave (Haig, an English bulldog)
by Robinson Jeffers
I've changed my ways a little; I cannot now
Run with you in the evenings along the shore,
Except in a kind of dream; and you, if you dream a moment,
You see me there.
So leave awhile the paw-marks on the front door
Where I used to scratch to go out or in,
And you'd soon open; leave on the kitchen floor
The marks of my drinking-pan.
I cannot lie by your fire as I used to do
On the warm stone,
Nor at the foot of your bed; no, all the night through
I lie alone.
But your kind thought has laid me less than six feet
Outside your window where firelight so often plays,
And where you sit to read--and I fear often grieving for me--
Every night your lamplight lies on my place.
You, man and woman, live so long, it is hard
To think of you ever dying
A little dog would get tired, living so long.
I hope than when you are lying
Under the ground like me your lives will appear
As good and joyful as mine.
No, dear, that's too much hope: you are not so well cared for
As I have been.
And never have known the passionate undivided
Fidelities that I knew.
Your minds are perhaps too active, too many-sided. . . .
But to me you were true.
You were never masters, but friends. I was your friend.
I loved you well, and was loved. Deep love endures
To the end and far past the end. If this is my end,
I am not lonely. I am not afraid. I am still yours.
By Virginia Ellis
Oh, little friend, do you recall,
When you made this house your home?
You were just a ball of fluff,
Not even halfway grown.
You stumbled when you learned to walk,
It was hard to steer four legs;
You learned to sit, and stay, and come,
And, of course, you learned to beg.
You loved those walks we used to take,
You never left my side;
And if I got my car keys out,
You were ready for a ride.
You sensed when I was happy,
Or was feeling kind of low;
You’d rub up against my knee,
You always seemed to know.
You’d fetch a ball or get a toy,
Without even being told;
But, was your face crestfallen,
If I felt the need to scold.
You found the outside world exciting,
Do you remember your first snow?
You’d not come back inside the house,
Because you loved it so.
Going to the vets for shots,
I guess was your greatest fear;
You seemed to know each scheduled date,
Though you went but once a year.
You were afraid of lightening, too,
And of booming thunderstorms;
You’d run and jump upon my bed,
Where it was safe and warm.
I never once felt lonely,
As long as you were here;
You were at my feet or on my lap,
You constantly were near.
Oh, I am going to miss you,
No question about that;
But, little one, for your pain to go,
I had to send you back.
You’re going back to heaven now,
From whence long ago you came;
You’ll be welcomed back by God, Himself,
Who knows your doggy-name.
I think there’s Frisbees up in heaven,
And rubber, squeaky toys;
And angels who will play with you,
And little girls and boys.
But, there won’t be any thunderstorms,
And no vets with shots up there;
You won’t even need a leash,
You’ll run freely in God’s air.
And when my time on earth is done,
And at heaven’s gate I’m near,
I don’t want any harps or horns,
Just … happy barks to hear.
So, see you later, little friend,
I’m glad you’re now pain-free;
And I’m glad you’re sitting next to Jesus,
Now … you wait right there for me.
"Ah, are you digging on my grave"
by Thomas Hardy
"Ah, are you digging on my grave,
My loved one? — planting rue?"
— "No: yesterday he went to wed
One of the brightest wealth has bred.
'It cannot hurt her now,' he said,
'That I should not be true.'"
"Then who is digging on my grave,
My nearest dearest kin?"
— "Ah, no: they sit and think, 'What use!
What good will planting flowers produce?
No tendance of her mound can loose
Her spirit from Death's gin.'"
"But someone digs upon my grave?
My enemy? — prodding sly?"
— "Nay: when she heard you had passed the Gate
That shuts on all flesh soon or late,
She thought you no more worth her hate,
And cares not where you lie.
"Then, who is digging on my grave?
Say — since I have not guessed!"
— "O it is I, my mistress dear,
Your little dog , who still lives near,
And much I hope my movements here
Have not disturbed your rest?"
"Ah yes! You dig upon my grave…
Why flashed it not to me
That one true heart was left behind!
What feeling do we ever find
To equal among human kind
A dog's fidelity!"
"Mistress, I dug upon your grave
To bury a bone, in case
I should be hungry near this spot
When passing on my daily trot.
I am sorry, but I quite forgot
It was your resting place."
Neolithic Humans Buried Their Dogs With Them 4,000 Years Ago
Analysis of the remains of 26 dogs found near Barcelona suggest the dogs had a close relationship with ancient humans
By Marissa Fessenden
February 14, 2019
The buried dogs aren't the oldest found in a human grave. That distinction belongs to a puppy found in a 14,000-year-old grave in modern-day Germany. The care given to that puppy to nurse it through illness was particularly intriguing to the researchers who discovered it....
.... the practice of burying dogs with humans was common at the time, the late Copper Age through the early Bronze Age. Perhaps the canine companions helped herd or guard livestock. What is certain is that ancient humans found the animals to be important enough to stay close to even in death.
Read more: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/people-buried-their-dogs-them-4000-years-ago-180971502/#fljfCAvxfHvTOpyq.99
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