April 24, 2007

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, setting 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 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.
Through 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.

I've had quite a few pets in my lifetime, but I don't consider myself a pet lover. But we did have one pet that my wife and I consider the most excellent of all the animals we took into our house. A cat named Louie, a gentleman to be sure. A cat that thought he was a dog. He would accompany one of us to the door when a guest would arrive and he recognized the voice. He would allow us to tie a red bow around his neck for Christmas ornamentation during the holiday festivities. In short he lived with us for a dozen years or so, and considered himself a member of the family. He was, a cherished member. When his end came we were all devastated, so much so we could not ever try to replace him. So I understand now how pet lovers can cherish an animal equally with the human specie.

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