A few children's lit folks I'm friends with on Facebook have posted tributes to dogs they've had to say goodbye to recently. We were in the same boat last Saturday. Our dachshund mixes, Asper and Oliver, joined our family as pups (rescues) back in 1999. Asper has knocked on Heaven's door a couple-few times in recent years, only to rebound and romp with us for a little while longer.
Last week, after enjoying a few days with us at the beach following Morgan's college graduation, he began his journey across that Rainbow Bridge. Morgan was in second grade, just seven years old, when we got him. (Oliver became Seth's dog when Seth was just four - and now he's a rising sophomore in college. Oliver does not quite know how old he really is, and we're not telling him.)
In my own Facebook post, I lauded Asper as our "Playful Pup, Defender of the Realm and Bodyguard to Morgan, Toy Hoarder, Copperhead Slayer, Couch and Bed Buddy, Trouper to the End..." - he was all that and then some.
I'm sharing all this because recently my father-in-law forwarded an email from a family friend. Here was the message: "Do you have a copy of Robyn's poem. If not would you forward this to Robyn. I have a friend who is grieving over his dog now. He needs her Poem."
I remembered the poem - it was one I'd written for my husband's brother when their family lost their wonderful Australian Shepherd, Gracie - back in 1998! I couldn't find the poem in my files (piles of boxes) at the new house, but emailed our friend that perhaps it was still in my old home office. Lo and behold, on my last trip to clean out that office, I found a copy. It went like this:
A good dog came your way today -
By now, I'm sure you know.
Please show her to the tennis balls
with an angel who can throw.
Her people down here miss her.
When you can, help them to see
they helped her have a playful heart
that's now forever free.
©Robyn Hood Black, but free for others to borrow and adjust name/date, if it might comfort any family who's lost a good dog....
Now, that poem won't win a Pushcart prize, but I was touched that those few lines were brought to the mind of my dog-loving friend after all these years, and that he wanted to share them with his grieving friend. Perhaps the most surprising part of the story, however, is that when I took the newly-found copy by my in-laws' house, my mother-in-law not only remembered the poem - she recited it by heart! We should have just asked her in the first place.
I was humbled, and comforted that poetry has the power to soothe when "regular" words don't quite seem enough. Thanks for letting me share.
For today's Poetry Friday Roundup, please visit the lovely Catherine Johnson.