The truth I do not stretch or shove
When I state that the dog is full of love.
I’ve also found, by actual test,
A wet dog is the lovingest.
by Heid E. Erdrich
Dogs so long with us we forget
that wolves allowed as how
they might be tamed and sprang up
all over the globe, with all humans,
all at once, like a good idea.
So we tamed our own hearts.
Leashed them or sent them to camp’s edge.
Even the shrinks once agreed, in dreams
our dogs are our deepest selves.
Ur Dog, a Siberian, dogged
the heels of nomads,
then turned south to Egypt
to keep Pharaoh safe.
Seemed strange, my mother sighed,
when finally we got a hound,
. . . a house without a dog.
Her world never knew
a yard un-dogged and thus
unlocked. Sudden intrusions
impossible where yappers yap.
Or maybe she objected
to empty armchairs,
rooms too quiet
without the beat
of tail thump or paw thud.
N’de, Ojibwe say, my pet,
which also suggests ode, that spot in the chest,
the part you point to when you pray,
or say with great feeling—great meaning,
meaning dog-love goes that deep.
There is ancient rhythm to the dance between dogs and humans. It could be asked, who domesticated whom? Did our canine brothers and sisters see as an unruly, unorganized clan in need of fostering and decided to bring us into their fold, as their own lost “tribe” as it were, or do we still persist in believing the myth in the manifest destiny of man? Ask a dog, they will tell you the truth.
I have no doubt that dogs write poetry. After all what is poetry? An emotion the author creates within ourselves, and dogs are masters at creating emotions within us. If we are looking for examples of unconditional love in our midst, most of us would not have to look farther than a dog in our household. God Dog may be the oldest and shortest palindrome in the English language other than I. I do think that this is a coincidence as language arises from our subconscious more than it does our conscious times when it comes to creating names. Don’t believe me, name a new puppy sometime. So next time you are petting your dog who has lovingly put he or she’s head on your knee and you feel your heart rate slowing and your mind becoming calmer, give thanks that this ancient bond is alive and well in your life. Soak in the unconditional love and loyalty that is connected to you. And then ask what can I do to wag my appreciation?
by Ellen Bass
It’s just getting dark, fog drifting in,
damp grasses fragrant with anise and mint,
and though I call his name
until my voice cracks,
there’s no faint tinkling
of tag against collar, no sleek
black silhouette with tall ears rushing
toward me through the wild radish.
As it turns out, he’s trotted home,
tracing the route of his trusty urine.
Now he sprawls on the deep red rug, not dead,
not stolen by a car on West Cliff Drive.
Every time I look at him, the wide head
resting on outstretched paws,
joy does another lap around the racetrack
of my heart. Even in sleep
when I turn over to ease my bad hip,
I’m suffused with contentment.
If I could lose him like this every day
I’d be the happiest woman alive.