You Old Dog

By Miles Dennis

You were born, one among many, and from the very start

You were never alone

Your mother and your siblings were all you knew

A dune of moving fur to roll on and wrestle with

Though you hurt each other

On needle-teeth

Bites and scratches

Your orange coats never showed red

Because it was all play, your children’s games

And one day they were gone

They picked you up and

Carried you away and

They were frightening and

You missed mother and

All your brethren and yet

The ones who took you

Loved you all the same

They held you and

Sat for hours in that warm wood-floored kitchen

Giving you nothing but their smiling-eyed stare

Showing you

Their love

With gentle hands

On your silky coat

You broke their rules, to be sure

Their rules were strange, and you did not understand why

Their anger would boil at you

You could smell it on them and

You could not bear

To disappoint

But you learned, my dog, yes

You learned their rules, and

Though they scolded you

On busy days when you would not get in the car

Still, they loved you

They loved you through

Barking on the neighbor’s porch and

Stealing those bread rolls off the counter and even

Running into the road and

Kicking so many rocks down

All the way down

That mountain

And the ball, oh that ball

You have never loved those strange two-legged companions

As much as when

They gave you a ball

That green-gold ball

Was the greatest gift they ever gave to you

Besides the treats

Snuck to you at bedtime on children’s hands

As the ground you ran across became cold

And then wet

And then warm again

And again

You chased a little slower,

Your paws ached

As you trotted on hard stone fields

Though your whiskers grayed and

Your joints seemed frozen every morning and

You could not keep up with those humans like you

Used to

You were never really in pain


Your humans loved you all the same and

You loved in return

And though your bark

Turned to a rasp and

Your sundog eyes clouded

Webbed with cataracts

And you could not jump

Onto the bed


Into the car

You did not mind

Because you knew

they would always

Help you up

And then

One morning

That ball, that beautiful green ball

Rolled across your nose

But you could not chase it

You could not move

Those white socks of yours

Though you wanted to more

Than anything

You were lifted then, one last window down car ride

To other humans

All dressed in white

The metal table they set you on

Was not so warm

As the carpet where you played

And loved

Those humans of yours

But they held you, just the same

They had gathered around you,

One again

Giving you nothing but the stares of their eyes

All their attention

And you were a puppy again

Bathing in that attentiveness

You knew, they felt pain


Them try to hold you

To keep you there for a few moments more

And even as you left them

You were happy, you old dog

Because you loved them and

Though you were leaving them,

They loved you all the same.

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