We have always had a menagerie of animals around our house. Kids growing up in the country collected everything from salamanders to stray cats, and 4-H kept us up to our ears in pigs, chickens, lambs, calves, horses, and even a goat. Of course dogs were ever present. I took backstage to all the animals, allowing the kids to claim and care for them all...until of course the kids grow up and the animals stay...and stay...and stay. We have had dogs last as long as 19 years (Huckleberry) and I still care for Stephanie's first cat who is now reaching the ripe old age of 22. Of all these animals gone and present, I lay claim to only one - our big black lab, Odie. This was the only pet that I picked out as a pup and brought home. Of course, he soon became Chris's but silently...he was mine too. He was with us a wonderful 13 years, and we lost him to cancer a of couple years before Chris died. I had a chance to honor this sweet, lovable animal in a poem, thinking of all the things he could no longer do on earth and maybe fulfilling those dreams in heaven.
He welcomes the morning sunlight
Which shimmers golden through the patio window.
And his bones feel limber and strong and his supple
Muscles quiver for action,
A shining sparkle of diamonds coat the snowbanks
Built during night's gentle late spring snowfall.
He runs and chases high-pitched, falling
Invisible snowballs mixed
Showers of shoveled snow sprinkle
A stardust coating on his glistening black fur.
At noon, he settles his lumbering body onto
The warm lambskin rug and patiently awaits
For his dish to be set before him.
After a cozy nap in the warming sun,
He bounds through the muddy melting snow
To the lake.
He submerges his heavy torso into the soothing
While his Huckleberry friend
Takes head-bobbing bounces
Through the bull rushes
Avoiding water at all costs.
The evening is filled with tireless luxurious long
Gentle strokes across his black
Velvet face and ears.
An occasional chocolate candy delights his senses,
And the sweet moves through his body free
Of danger or threat.
He curls his thunderous thighs and barrel chest
Into a ball on an unforbidden couch
To dream of rabbit races.
His body twitching in miniature moves
With each twist and turn of the imaginary hills
And muffled woof's reveal his victorious tale.