Mocha

She left and part of me went to sleep

I’m undone by four paws and a worn-out red collar

My faithful companion, lifelong friend

Thank you for loving me with all your strength to the end.

She took all my comfort with her

All the security of her protective grace.

Almost two decades of fears quelled by my tireless guardian

Watchful sentry, ageless soldier;

Furry tissue, perfect confidante

The best friend anyone could want

That old gray muzzle

Will never

Leave

My heart. I’ll love you forever

I can still feel you by my side (curled up perfectly like most winter nights)

Someday I may stop weeping

But tonight, the first night I face under this roof without your warm, snoring presence (my earliest memory is your excitement as we chose you at the pound; eighteen years is a long time for you to have been around)

The tears will flow until they irrigate the desert valleys you left inside my heart.

I can’t imagine life without your loyalty and bark

Someone tear this pain from me

AND JUST GIVE ME BACK MY DOG —

please.

Lord, Thank You for Dogs!

Lord, thank you for dogs.

Thank you for Mocha, my wiry terrier (who is going on sixteen, but remains strong and youthful as ever)

Thank you for her because the other night as I lay in anguish with heavy heart,
as I moved away from her and
reached out to touch the words on the wall
to pray,
she felt my absence and moved closer so that we would be back to back once more. Her warmth made me cry.

Thank you for the simple
Childlike
Unassuming love of the dog.

It is the all-encompassing,
head-butting-my-leg,
Tail-wagging-so-hard-her-rear-is-shaking,
Unconditional-expecting-nothing-in-return,
So-excited-that-I’m-home,
Part-of-what-makes-home-a-home,
Would-give-her-life-for-me-snarling-at-danger-without-a-second-thought kind of love.

Which thrives despite all the times we push them (not lightly) away from our food
Or accidentally step on them
Or smack them for rummaging through the trash
Or all the times (God save us) that we shout and stamp and scream at them for barking protectively at strangers, the very thing they were designed to do.

Thank you Lord for the dog, my dog, a model of how I should love the world.

May she chase squirrels happily all her days.

Less miserable

Once I was crying very hard
And the sobs shook my bony frame
(Not small, mind you, just
Bony)
And my family was there, trying to
Comfort me, trying to
Help me feel better
But for all their efforts I felt worse.

And then our tiny
Five pound
Feisty angry unfriendly-to-strangers,
Scraggly stumpy wiry (pretty bony herself)
Absolutely itty-bitty dog with a Napoleon complex,
She came and nosed me and sniffed my tears and pawed at me and whined and worried and eventually curled up on my lap, all bones and black fur and radiating warmth,
And I kept crying
but I felt less miserable, you know?