A VIEW FROM THE TOP
Is there a better friend than one who has run so many miles by your side, even if aided by two extra legs? Gordon Cherr thinks not. And sometimes it is better said through the words of another.
For Buster (April 1994- September 28, 2007)
Another Dog’s Death
by John Updike
For days the good old bitch had been dying, her back
pinched down to the spine and arched to ease the pain,
her kidneys dry, her muzzle white. At last
I took a shovel into the woods and dug her grave
in preparation for the certain. She came along,
which I had not expected. Still, the children gone,
such expeditions were rare, and the dog,
spayed early, knew no nonhuman word for love.
She made her stiff legs trot and let her bent tail wag.
We found a spot we liked, where the pines met the
The sun warmed her fur as she dozed and I dug;
I carved her a safe place while she protected me.
I measured her length with the shovel’s long handle;
she perked in amusement, and sniffed the heaped-up
Back down at the house, she seemed friskier,
but gagged, eating. We called the vet a few days later.
They were old friends. She held up a paw, and he
injected a violet fluid. She swooned on the lawn;
we watched her breathing quickly slow and cease.
In a wheelbarrow up to the hole, her warm fur shone.
by Marcia Schler
When old dog had to die
After long years filled with love and honour
When the weight of time grew wearying
and she was content to have it finished
I brought my old dog to our friend.
Old dog lay soft against me
old eyes already closed, waiting.
Our friends hand was gentle
on the weary body with its ragged fur.
So gentle to find the frail small vein
where death could enter.
Old blood runs sluggish,
old veins slackly resisting.
So patient, our friend, his knowing hands
all I can see through silent tears.
I watch capable strong hands lightly coaxing
and at the last the small red flower
blooms briefly in the crystal
before he eases the plunger in.
Old dog only sighs very softly.
The weary heart slows and stops
as the joyful spirit leaps free.
We wait a quiet moment, my tears
dropping unheeded into the soft fur.
Our friend withdraws, his gentle hands
leaving old dog’s cast-off body.
My head bowed over the weathered white mask
for a moment
before I let her lie by herself
and draw the blanket over her.
I wish the old dog had made it easier for him
To bring even a kindly death brings sadness.
He asked how many years she had, and
I heard more than that in his voice.
I wish I could thank him
for keeping zest in her years
for making a good end of them
for his capable hands
for gentle words
for caring heart.
I took the old dog home
and laid her as if sleeping
wrapped in her worn blanket
and sheltered deep in the kindly silent earth.
Goodbye, my friend.