The other day my cousins’ dog died. Jimmy was the real King of Queens. He was wary of all newcomers into his house but once he got to know you you were pals for life. I used to sit on the couch watching t.v., absentmindedly petting his head. Every time I would pull my hand away a paw would appear on my forearm. The message was clear. Keep pettin’.
He would sit outside with me while I smoked cigarettes and beg to be let back inside again only to start scratching at the door to come back out as soon as I had sat down.
He would sit by me at the dinner table whenever I visited their house knowing that I would give him some scraps from my plate. When I tried to be tough and say no, I would receive a deafening bark and we would be mortal enemies for a while. Eventually I’d slowly make my way towards the couch. If I saw his paw go for my forearm I knew that we were cool again. Petting and friendship could resume.
The news that Jimmy had passed hit me deep in my soul. I can only imagine what my cousins are going through. I still remember the feeling of regret and sadness when our dog died years ago. Regret that I wasn’t around as much before she died and regret that I wasn’t a more active owner. When we lose someone we loved we view these interactions under a scriutinous microscope. The loss of a family pet is the loss of a family member, a loved one, a piece of your life. As humans we can adapt to grief. We may never get over these losses but we learn to live with them.
As I thought about Fizz, my old dog, and Jimmy I took solace in one of the only places I know where to find it: poetry. I think all dog owners and animal lovers will find some of the comfort that I found in this poem.
Lend Me A Pup
By Unknown Author
I will lend to you for awhile a puppy, God said,
For you to love him while he lives
and to mourn for him when he is gone.
Maybe for 12 or 14 years, or maybe for 2 or 3
But will you, till I call him back
take care of him for me?
He’ll bring his charms to gladden you and
(should his stay be brief)
you’ll always have his memories
as solace for your grief.
I cannot promise that he will stay
since all from Earth return,
But there are lessons taught below
I want this pup to learn.
I’ve looked the whole world over
in search of teachers true,
And from the fold that crowd life’s land
I have chosen you.
Now will you give him all your love
Nor think the labor vain,
nor hate me when I come to take
my pup back again?
I fancied that I heard them say,
“Dear Lord, Thy Will Be Done,”
For all the joys this pup will bring
the risk of grief you’ll run.
Will you shelter him with tenderness,
Will you love him while you may?
And for the happiness you’ll know
forever grateful stay?
But should I call him back
much sooner than you’ve planned,
please brave the bitter grief that comes
and try to understand.
If, by your love, you’ve managed
my wishes to achieve,
In memory of him that you’ve loved,
To help you while you grieve,
cherish every moment with your faithful bundle,
and know he loved you too.