Ode to Puppy, the Lionhearted
From abandoned fluffy puppy falling over your feet
To daring hound with your majestic puffed chest,
Like Diana, you were always ready for the chase.
I once spotted you far off, pursuing a wild boar,
But, curiously, not at your usual speed,
As if you were putting a safe distance betwixt.
Then there was the mule,
Who tossed you into the air on his muzzle
When you'd attempted to herd his family.
Unabashed, you hurtled into a field of bulls
And when they circled you, sniffing,
You rolled onto your back and wriggled cutely.
Hearing a thunderous bellow in the forest one day,
You dashed in and disappeared. When you finally emerged,
You were strewn with the slobber of the unknown beast.
The clomping of horse carriages past your house
Outraged you, in memory of the horse who was fed
A piece of the bread that you wanted entirely to yourself.
But old age came and you suddenly developed an interest
In squeaky toys, which you would retrieve
With an arthritic friskiness.
"Mr Carrot" was your favourite.
You carried him to your bed drooling and
Cooing maternally, the puppy you never had.
In your final debilitating illness, I watched, amazed,
As you slept, your legs hurtling across the fields,
Dreaming of the perfect chase.
Ode to a Dog
A child's drawing of a dog, knee-high, pointed ears,
Straight from a Lowry painting.
Glossy and slightly greasy with the musculature of a body builder,
Barrel-chested and wasp-waisted,
The profile of Anubis, the symmetrical repose of the Sphinx.
'Muscle on a rope,' we called her, never one for walking to heel,
But suddenly she would pause and rise up on her hind legs, rotating,
Periscope-like, surveying the horizon for quails.
She wouldn't allow us rest for a moment upon a rock,
Yipping, nudging and licking us with the inky-spotted tongue.
Terrier-obsessed with the scent of rabbits, if she slipped her collar,
She would run and run, without so much as a glance over her shoulder,
Forgetting she was ever owned.
She once ran over a mountain range and was found forty miles away.
We mused that one day, when she was old, she would walk beside us,
Perhaps even off her lead,
But that moment, nearly two decades later, was all-too fleeting,
A week before she died.
In later life, she impressed everyone with her Flamenco
When meeting other dogs, clacking her onyx nails on the ground,
Sharp turns and erect posturing. Her dancing partners,
Often bemused by this spirited grey-faced old lady
Who circled them as they stood inert.
Worshipping the sun, she had a particular spot she went to
At a particular time. She'd sit on her tail, leaning against the wall,
Her back legs splayed in front of her.
We took to inventing Restoration characters, addressing her as
Old Lady Snoring and Old Lady Mouth.
The hair between her foot pads turned white.
Never one to warm to vets with their roving thermometres,
And always an unhappy tolerance for being picked up,
She was reluctantly examined following a spate of falls.
'She's 18, what will be, will be,' he said,
And so we waited.
She would not lie down for death, standing and facing the light,
Until a cloud seemed to puff into the inner chambers of her eyes.
We buried her in a landscape she would have loved,
In a grove of pinion pines and cacti bearing purple fruit,
The ground scattered with rabbit droppings.
I follow in her footsteps, patrolling along the narrow dog paths
She threaded about the garden, all that remains of her Earthly journey.