When I was a puppy, I entertained you
with my antics and made you laugh.
You called me your child, and despite a number
of chewed shoes, I became your best friend.
Whenever I was “bad”, you’d shake your finger at me
and ask, “How could you?” but then you’d relent,
and roll me over for a belly rub.
My housebreaking took a little longer than
expected, because you were terribly busy.
I remember those nights of nuzzling you in bed
and listening to your secret dreams.
We went for long walks in the park, car rides
and stops for ice cream, and I took long naps
in the sun waiting for you to come home.
Gradually, you began spending more time at work,
and more time searching for a human mate.
I waited for you patiently, comforted you through heartbreaks
and disappointments, never chided you about bad decisions,
and romped with glee at your homecomings,
and when you fell in love.
She, now your wife, is not a “dog person”,
still I welcomed her, tried to show her affection,
and obeyed her. I was happy because you were happy.
Then the human babies came along and I shared
your excitement. I was fascinated by their pinkness,
how they smelled, and I wanted to mother them, too.
Only she and you worried that I might hurt them,
and I spent most of my time banished to another room.
Oh, how I wanted to love them, but I became a
“prisoner of love.”
As they began to grow, I became their friend.
They clung to my fur, and pulled themselves up on
wobbly legs, poked fingers in my eyes, investigated
my ears, and gave me kisses on the nose.
I loved everything about them and their touch,
because your touch was now so infrequent,
and I would have defended them with my life if need be.
I would sneak into their beds and listen to their worries
and secret dreams, and together, we waited for the sound
of your car in the driveway.
There had been a time when others asked you if you had a dog,
that you produced a photo of me, and told them stories about me.
These past few years, you just answered “yes”
and changed the subject. I had gone from being
“your dog” to “just a dog.”
And you resented every expenditure on my behalf.
Now, you have a new career opportunity
in another city, and you and they will be moving
to an apartment that does not allow pets.
You’ve made the right decision for your “family,”
but there was a time when I was your only family.
I was excited about the car ride until we arrived
at the animal shelter. It smelled of dogs and cats,
of fear, of hopelessness.
You filled out the paperwork and said,
“I know you will find a good home for her“.
They shrugged, understanding the realities facing a
middle-aged dog, even one with “papers.” You had to pry
your son’s fingers loose from my collar as he screamed,
”No! Please, don’t let them take my dog!”
And I worried for him, and what lessons you had just taught
him about friendship and loyalty, about love and responsibility,
and about respect for all life.
You gave me a goodbye pat on the head, avoided my eyes,
and politely refused to take my collar and leash with you.
You had a deadline to meet, and now I have one too.
The new ladies shook their heads and asked
“How could you?”
They are as attentive to us here in the shelter,
only as their busy schedules allow. They feed us of course,
but I lost my appetite days ago. At first, whenever anyone
passed my pen, I rushed to the front, hoping it was you,
that you had changed your mind, that this was all
a bad dream.....or, I hoped it would at least be someone
who cared, anyone who might save me.
When I realized I could not compete with the frolicking
for attention of happy puppies, oblivious to
their own fate, I retreated to a far corner and waited.
I heard her footsteps as she came for me at the end
of the day, and I padded along the aisle after her
to a separate room. A blissfully quiet room.
She placed me on the table and rubbed my ears and told me
not to worry. My heart pounded in anticipation
of what was to come, but there was also a sense of relief.
The prisoner of love had run out of days.
As is my nature, I was more concerned about her.
The burden, which she bears, weighs heavily upon her,
and I know that, the same way I knew your every move.
She gently placed a tourniquet around my foreleg
as a tear ran down her cheek. I licked her hand in the same
way I used to comfort you so many years ago.
She expertly slid the hypodermic needle into my vein.
As I felt the sting and the cool liquid coursing through
my body, I lay down sleepily, looked into her kind eyes
and murmured........“How could you?”
Perhaps because she understood my dogspeak, she said,
“I’m so sorry.” She hugged me and explained it was her job
to make sure I went to a better place, where I wouldn’t be
ignored or abused or abandoned, or have to fend for myself,
a place of love and light so very different from this earthly place.
And with my last bit of energy, I tried to convey to her
with a thump of my tail that my “How could you?”
was not directed at her.
It was you, My Beloved Master,
I was thinking of.
I will think of you and wait for you forever.
May everyone in your life
continue to show you so much loyalty!
Thank you so much Penny for advising me of the author's
name of this most beautiful and touching poem.
I am always sad to place 'unknown author' to any poem
and believe all gifted and talented poets deserve the
honour of their name being credited to their writings.
here to visit
Jim Willis and read more
of his inspirational writings.
Thank you George for sending me this wonderful poem,
I am so happy now that I have been advised of
the author of How Could You ~ Jim Willis.
Goerge W. Bonin Snr. was a columnist for Pawtucket
Times. I am sure you would enjoy browsing through
some of the many columns he has written over the years
Click on the icon below to visit George's website