An Old Dog Teaches an Old Trick: the Solace of Poetry

Always the queen of the house

Always the queen of the house

We lost Molly last week, just one month shy of her 15th birthday.

Don’t worry. For a 93-pound malamute, 15 is off-the-charts old. She had a great, vibrant life. Only in the past two months did her walks shrink to the size of our yard, and only in the last night of her life did she suffer enough to make us absolutely sure we were doing the right thing to give her peace. That certainty was her last gift to us, along with the comfort of knowing we were able to comfort her during her time of pain.

Then I shared my loss with my friends, and got another gift: poetry. My friend Lorna, who collects poems for occasions, sent me this:

Old Dog, by William Stafford

Toward the last in the morning she could not

get up, even when I rattled her pan.

I helped her into the yard, but she stumbled

and fell. I knew it was time.

The last night a mist drifted over the fields.

In the morning she would not raise her head —

the far, clear mountains we had walked

surged back to mind.

We looked a slow bargain: our days together

were the ones we had already had.

I gave her something the vet had given,

and patted her still, a good last friend.

I read it. I had another good, necessary cry. And then I saved this poem in my computer so I could share it with the next friend who loses a good old dog.

How I’ll remember her:

How I'll remember her

Then I started wondering: what other poetry angels might be out there, besides my friend Lorna?

Do any of you have special poems that you like to send to friends for certain occasions, sad or happy?

Could I talk you into sharing one of them here?

PS: Lorna, you know I don’t mean YOU are an old dog, right? 🙂