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Monday, November 21, 2005

Dog's Death




One of the things I have noticed about my own personal grieving process is that once I get really sad, my mind often latches onto some long forgotten poem or song. I find myself repeating it over and over in my mind for days or weeks. It is oddly comforting although I am not sure why. So this time has been no exception. And the poem is one by John Updike called "Dog's Death" and even though it is about a puppy and Crissy was really old, there is some emotion that Updike captures that is hitting home with me. Maybe it is the whole idea that even when dying, a dog will still do anything they can to please their people.

DOG'S DEATH by 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, wetting 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 and 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.
Though 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 diarrhea and had dragged across the floor
To a newspaper carelessly left there. Good dog.

3 comments:

Island Jen said...

wow, that poem shows how totally amazing dogs are. I'm totally bawling right now- Great poem.

hardtoimagine said...

I'm so sorry to hear about Crissy. I know you loved her a lot and she will be greatly missed. Losing a pet is always difficult.

lisa said...

i'd never read that before. what beauty.