Old Dogs

30 Dec

For those who are expecting my usual snarky, quasi-comedic stylings: you will not find them here.  Today would have been my beloved beagle’s 14th birthday.  However, due to his decreasing health (and a desire to have him avoid pain and suffering) I had him put to sleep on April 8.

You may read on if you wish, or you can hold tight for something Like-worthy down the road.  No hard feelings.

 *   *   *

 

I wonder if he knows

that the end is coming soon.

Can feel the weight of time

and age

and failing bodies

and life

continuing to move forward.

Even though he can’t move very well?

 

Thirteen years.

Some say that is over 90 human years.

Some say it’s less.

Time sprints and

time stands still.

I wonder if he wants to go.

 

His life now is different than it once was.

From bachelor companion to

rebellious step-child to

a little girl’s first dog to

an old man who struggles to climb two stairs.

I’m guessing these are not his finest days.

 

The march of time

is more like a sprint for dogs.

His head was black,

then brown,

then brown with white and grey

like his master.

Coming attractions for us all.

 

I’ve noticed a trend.

More than mere coincidence.

Dear friends

and casual acquaintances

Losing their beloved

dogs

and cats.

 

People growing up and making new people.

Animals just growing old.

I feel for their losses.

And fear my own.

 

Lumps

and bumps

and growths unknown.

Bigger and bigger

More and more.

Hind legs that buckle and cross.

Stumbling like a drunken sailor

 

When do you know

when it is ‘time’?

Is there a clock

or a watch?

Good days.

Bad days.

How many in a row?

 

He makes no complaint

of his growing handicaps.

He tries hard.

He wants to please.

And if he should find food

or a soft place to sleep

close to his family

Well, that would be pleasing too.

 

He has seen death.

Been there at the end

watching the life go out of another creature.

This knowledge does not comfort me.

 

I do not want to be selfish

and make him suffer

to make his life about quantity over quality.

Nor do I want to say

goodbye

to one of my oldest and dearest friends.

 

I wonder if he’s ready

if he’s waiting on me

to say

goodbye.

To let him rest

and be free

and to run and

bay and finally

catch that damn rabbit

that has haunted his dreams.

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2 Responses to “Old Dogs”

  1. Carole July 10, 2015 at 1:51 am #

    Hi David. Your poem is beautiful, heart wrenching, and haunting. I have come to love dogs more than I will ever love people–and letting a beloved old pup go and making these decisions on “when is the kindest time?” have been some of the hardest decisions I have ever struggled with. So, I appreciate your words, emotion and uncanny ability to put these experiences into verse. I and have empathy for anyone going through this part of the journey.

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