I want to warn you now, this update will make you tear up. You’ve been warned. It wasn’t my intention when I wrote this poem, it is a celebration of my golden Labrador that we put down February 13, 2007. We had Rocky (Mountains, not our name choice) for 13 years, pretty much half of my life, when we put him down, so he was definitely a member of our family. Recently one of our number had to say goodbye to a feline member of their family, he has the condolences and support of the entire MAL crew. Occasionally non-believers are asked how we deal with grief, when someone does that, show them this poem.
We recently finished remodeling the house,
we’ve fought with old construction
and have been amazed at things past owners had done.
We’ve found bits of broken floor
in places we swore were closed,
and anything exposed to open air
has gathered a fine layer of dust.
Our life has a fine layer of you,
covering everyone and everything
that has ever entered it in the past fifteen years.
We’re finding bits of broken memories
of you in people and places
that were never graced with your presence.
Objects which once had no meaning when you were alive
now bring a smile to my lips and tears to my eyes;
your food dish, sitting in the corner un-used,
your leash left in the closet with no one to lead,
dog hair, under furniture, in dresser drawers and car interiors,
too painful to look at, but too hard to let go.
You went everywhere with me,
friends, acquaintances and strangers
asking me if I had a cat,
as they pulled your hair from my collar, sleeve,
or even my own head.
No one greets me overjoyed when I walk in the door,
no one lays their head in my lap simply because it’s there;
My life seems silent without you,
I can’t hear your snoring in the next room,
can’t hear you running in your sleep,
half barking at some imagined intruder seen only in your minds eye.
The pitter patter of little feet no longer end at my door,
silently demanding entry,
simply because it’s been five minutes since you last saw me.
Patient, kind, and caring,
you were my role model on what a perfect friend should be.
The only dog I ever knew graceful enough
to not only fall going down a flight of stairs,
but up them as well.
The only 14 year old dog I knew
that would run to his food bowl each morning
like a young puppy.
The only dog I knew that liked grapes…
carrots, cheerios, popcorn, peanuts, cheez-it’s,
basically anything that fell to the floor was seen as fair game.
It only took a few months for your health to deteriorate,
for the tumor you fought for so long,
to occupy most of your chest and shoulder,
for the arthritis you lived with
the past couple of years, to make getting up
more painful than you could stand,
and for these two to combine, so that
even standing in the vet’s office
waiting for death to take you,
made your breathing labored and harsh.
We didn’t want to let you go,
our perfect dog.
I have to keep telling myself
it was for the best.
That the cancerous growth
occupying most of your chest
was hurting you more than you were willing to let on,
but it is so hard to accept that you are gone.
I still find myself looking at your favorite spots to lay,
expecting to find you there,
can still hear you snoring behind me
in an empty family room.
Rod Stewart’s “Forever Young”
played as we walked you to the back of the vet’s office,
and my tears came freely for my friend,
because that is how you always seemed;
your tail always wagging,
your eyes were always bright,
until the last few days…
I can find some small amount of comfort
knowing that you were able to let go
in the arms of the one who loved you most,
I only hope I should be so lucky.
Rest in peace Rocky
I’ll see you in my dreams,
let’s go for a run.
Victor Harris © 2/13/2007
We tried living without dogs in the house, but as long as I can remember, if we had the space, we had a dog. We now have two more Labradors, a black lab, and a brown lab, Puck and Vor, respectively, both are rescue dogs. We got Puck a few months after we put down Rocky, he was named after Puck in Shakespeare’s Midsummer’s Night Dream due to his playful disposition, which he still has despite now being 8 years old. We got Vor in February of last year, he is named for the royal line in Lois McMaster Bujold’s Miles Vorkosigan series, one of my favorite sci-fi series, the Vorkosigan’s family colors are brown and silver, there were already human Miles in our lives, and we like our dogs to have unique names, Vor is now a year and a half. Tell us about your pets, past or present, post pictures if you have them, let’s celebrate the lives of our companions.