Even when he bolted
it was impossible to scold him.
He always came back – full of burrs
and sticks and leaves,
satisfied and glad to be a dog.
We’d leave the gate open if he were
still out when
we went to bed.
Sometimes I secretly really wanted him
to break away,
squeeze through the fence,
escape the leash,
chase a bunny,
wouldn’t admit it.
What if he
frightened a child?
dug up a garden?
snatched a chicken?
What if he were
hit by the train?
attacked by a coyote?
snagged on a wire?
shot by a neighbor?
He had no use for treats or bribes,
could take or leave his meals,
didn’t sleep on a pillow,
fetch sticks, bother with toys.
He had been wild once,
I was told, in his life before
I knew him
but it must not have been all good
because always he came back to us,
because he always tried his best
to be a loyal, beloved pet,
extending his paw to all, and
keeping an eye on Jaxon,
because he walked proudly at my side,
tail tall and curled,
fluffed like a drum major’s feathers,
on lookout for suspicious dogs on leashes,
and people who might hurt me.
At least that’s what people told me —
that he would protect me.
He was a proud descendant of wolves:
his body peppered with buckshot,
he preferred to sleep outside.
He had a fierce bark, which he didn’t use often,
and it surprised me each time I heard it.
His ballsiness was well noted:
his kennel name was Manly.
His last few days were Hell.
We said goodbye.
He closed his eyes
and went to sleep.