...to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free....

04 June, 2011

farewell, dear friend

When she came to live with us 14 years ago,
Pokey had a difficult time with bare floors.
Raised with her mom and brothers and sisters outside,
Her legs would splay out from under her
when she encountered a smooth surface.

In the last few months before she left us,
she also had a difficult time with bare floors.
Her back legs would sometimes splay out when she was sitting,
leaving her in great pain and unable to get up.

She walked with me for years, every single day.
Four miles on a quiet country road--
Sniffing intently at the ground at wildlife crossings,
running ahead and then stopping to look back,
swimming in the stream most days from March to November.

During the last few months, she slept most of the time.
In her dreams, she was still on the road--
her legs moving vigorously in delighted doggy dreams.

She once was queen of the woods.
There was nowhere she didn't dare to go;
she scaled windfalls with ease and followed her nose
to delicious and exciting places.
When she was done exploring, she would come back to greet me, smiling.

A few weeks ago, she lost her balance at the edge
of a ravine and tumbled to the bottom--
then was completely unable to get up.
She waited quietly until I could crawl down to rescue her,
and she looked frightened and a bit humiliated.

We have struggled for months with how to deal with her
declining ability to be the dog she has 
always been.
Completely deaf, and increasingly anxious, she would
seem to tell us that although she had no acute
pain or illness, she was no longer herself in her body.

A couple of weeks ago, my husband fell on top of her 
at the kitchen steps.  The combination of her  new habit of 
being regularly underfoot and my husband's fragile balance
was beginning to be dangerous to both of them.

Thursday at noon, we fed her three pieces of Hebrew National Salami.
We took her out back for a walk by the pond, 
and then took her on a long walk around the neighborhood.
When we got home, we sat with her on a comforter outside under a tree,
and waited.

The vet and her assistant came and lovingly
and respectfully shaved a spot of fur from her back leg,
and while I was holding her close to me, they injected her  with a sedative.
She quickly relaxed completely in my arms,
and within minutes she was gone from us.

It was very moving to experience this relaxation,
especially since she had been so anxious for so long.


That morning, on the Writer's Almanac, Garrison Keillor
read a Thomas Hardy poem that seemed 
sent to us for the occasion, as if in Pokey's words:  

When Dead
by Thomas Hardy

         It will be much better when
              I am under the bough;
I shall be more myself, Dear, then,
              Than I am now.

         No sign of querulousness
              To wear you out
Shall I show there: strivings and stress
              Be quite without.

         This fleeting life-brief blight
              Will have gone past
When I resume my old and right
              Place in the Vast.

         And when you come to me
              To show you true,
Doubt not I shall infallibly
              Be waiting you.


We still look for Pokey as we go through the day.
And we miss her sweet and loving self.

We are sure, though, that she is at peace.


  1. shedding tears for your loss... what a sweet girl.

  2. You've left me crying. I am deeply sorry for the loss of your beautiful companion.

  3. Through the tears I write to tell you I am sorry for your loss.

  4. ~~~ i am literally sobbing....what a heartfelt post...i know this pain of losing a dog all too well...just over a year ago it just about did me in...at times..i wondered if i could go on without Buddy... what helped me alot was the kind words and compassion from my blogging friends...

    i am so very sorry for the loss of your beautiful dog...

    find comfort in knowing that you gave your dog the BEST LIFE possible...and i know too..that we will someday see them again.

    please accept my heartfelt sympathy, my friend

    sending love,
    kary and teddy

  5. It's so sad to read this Mike, but this is such a beautiful tribute to your dear Pokey. I'm so sorry for your loss. Sending comforting hugs to you. ~Lili

  6. Mike, I feel your pain! You brought tears to me eyes. I fear I shall soon be in your boat! My old boy is getting on and his aches and pains are showing and slowing him down! I shall cherish every day imhave with him! He is a true and dear friend!
    The poem is lovely. Thanks for sharing

  7. Crying here and remembering all our dear border collies that have made me feel the same way.

    Oh, dear Mike. I am so sorry to hear you have lost such a dear companion. But at the same time, my heart soars to hear how you handled it and how it played out. Yes, no longer in pain. And always in your heart. xoxo

  8. You've tugged at my heart here, Mike, and a mixture of sad, for your loss of Pokey, and of gladness that she found your home to be part of for 14 years.

    Peace. A final and resting peace is what wish for in the end for all living things. Your blog here, your words, and this lovely poem that I can hear Garrison Keillor's voice reading at just the right time in your day are a touching tribute to Pokey.

  9. My friends, you have no idea how comforting it is to read your responses. Thank you so much for your words, your empathy, and your understanding. I feel surrounded by caring. ;o)

  10. I'm so sorry, Mike! She was such a sweet girl. It must have been so painful for you, even though it was the right time and done so kindly and peacefully. I'm so glad you had each other.

  11. What a beautiful way to say goodbye. She knew she was so very loved, and you were blessed by her being in your lives. Warm hugs to you today Mike.

  12. I came to you via my friend Lili, and I am so glad that I did at this time. You will see Pokey by your side for a long, long time to come. When my big white dog Una died I kept reaching down by my knee, which is where she always walked and sat.

    Your words were beautiful and heartfelt and touched me deeply. I think that it must have helped you to write such a tribute...and then the Thomas Hardy poem...perfect.

    Sending my healing thoughts across the miles,

    Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

  13. Thanks for letting me know. Pokey has a big place in our hearts. He was the first dog friend Emma and Atticus knew and he set the bar for “doginess”. Emma smiles her big Emma smile when she talks about Pokey. I remember when Pokey came to your house as a pup. Your tribute brought tears to my heart. It’s hard to say goodbye, even when we know it’s time. Love you dear friend. cb

  14. (Fighting back tears). So lovingly written. All who have been loved by a pet know the pain you're feeling.
    I love the pictures, and that poem is amazing. How fitting.
    My sympathy in your loss.

  15. Oh, dear.......I am at a loss, teary eyed, and sad. My own Eddie is stone deaf, almost blind, and increasingly fragile and unsteady. He will be 14 in 3 weeks. He is my buddy, my love, I can't imagine how hard this will be.
    I am thinking of you, and hope to be as strong.

  16. Oh Mike, I know that gaping hole left by your loss of Pokey. I've said again and again, that my idea of heaven is to step into a meadow with all my beloved dogs running toward me...let it be so.

    I wish I'd known your Pokey, I would have loved her too. I've lost two in two years.

  17. Again, many thanks to all of you for your words of comfort. I have read them over and over again this last week--and they have helped. ;o)

  18. Mike, I am so saddened to hear of the loss of your dear pup. You wrote a beautiful tribute that moved me to tears. xoxo