Poetry Out Loud: Walking the Dog

Walking the Dog

There was a message on my phone.
My dog was ready to come home,
they said. It was just her ashes,
they didn’t say. Never one to be

put on a shelf, we took one last
walk together around the farm, her
cremains, I guess, tucked under my
arm. She usually bounds ahead of me,

turning to make sure I’m coming.
She usually stands just beside me
when I stop. She usually has a wild
rambunctious pride. Where did she

love best? The truck, of course.
She’d be sitting there waiting,
ready to load up. The gate to the
barn; we met there several times

a day. The pond to the west; she’d
splash and bring that wild scent to
bed at night. A prairie breeze kicks
and I can see her profile; nose

lifted, her coat blown back. She’s
facing down the wind. Shall I let
the wind have her now? I stroll
between memories, passing under the

barn tree, swings hanging in the
cool shade. Carrying the weight of
an old dog, nothing left but bones,
is heavier than I expected. Once more,

I wish her lightness from her used-
up body, as I go inside and put the
container on a shelf by a faded dog
bed. We’ll take another walk tomorrow.


Anna Blake for Relaxed & Forward

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43 thoughts on “Poetry Out Loud: Walking the Dog”

  1. Yet another hummer, Anna. AS I probably have written before – Suzy is 13 (my age in dog years) so slow – very quick trips outside now – STILL with the skin thing that just wont go away. BUT food and treats are still a very BIG deal to her. I put pieces of carrot and milkbone inside her Kong (which she never was interested in before) when I go for my walks in the morning & evening up back by the woods (where she used to go with me) & she cannot WAIT for me to go for a walk now! Come on Mom its TIME!
    Sorry to meander on but I guess I’m just saying – boy do I get this one! And I’m so sorry you lost another.

    • Aren’t we always in this cycle… the dog I wrote this for died two years ago, but I have another here who mainly shows signs of life at dinnertime… bittersweet. Thanks, Maggie and hi to Suzy.

  2. Oh, wow-all the tears & wonderful memories! My faithful companions, gone now but never forgotten, to be carried in my heart.

  3. Another great poem, Anna. Always so hard to say goodbye – and the rituals we do to honor our beloved four-legged family members….. I have four cats and three dogs buried in the back yard which I talk to somewhat regularly. I have scattered ashes various places of some and have two urns on my fireplace mantle. When my last dog left for a pain-free, cancer-free afterlife, I slept with her collar for three nights. Vet thought I was weird. Maybe so, but it was comforting.

    • I so get it. It’s been years since my dog left this world and I still have her favorite squeaky toy, bowl, and of course, photo of she and I, around the place. Your behavior wasn’t weird, it was a loving tribute. (I slept with the squeaky toy.) Here’s to many more wonderful companions.

  4. To the memory of good dogs everywhere.

    My Max a lanky, funny Black and Tan Coonhound. Abandoned for the conformation of muscles in his head. He lived with me on my farm in Ohio and loved when I did work evolving the tractor. He also teamed up with Charlie ,Black and Tan Dachshund , who would dash down a ground hog hole and flush the hiding rodent thru the other tunnel to be despatched by the waiting Max. Alas his love of tractors and helping me on snowy nights clear the half mile of drive down to the county road …he never herd the car moving slowly thru the snow as he romped and thrilled into its path. I lifted his body into the bucket of the tractor , drove back to the barn where I laid his body on hay bales until first light. We made one last treck me trudging thru snow , he gliding on a toboggan up the hill to a favorite spot in the oaks and beach trees .

  5. Thank you. This touched me deeply. I never thought of taking my dogs that have gone to The Bridge for a walk.

    People say that their dogs of past have come to visit. I have never had that happen. Maybe if we take a walk.

  6. Thank you for this stunning poem.
    I have lived through so many losses in the last 20 years. My 16 year old little dog was by far the worst…
    It’s been nearly 18 months now since his passing, with a new (and totally different!) and slightly crazy, young dog who sleeps and wrestles with that faded old dog bed, but my old friends bones are still on that shelf indoors… Haven’t found the perfect place yet and since I’m redoing my whole garden for the next few years the perfect place will perhaps appear later, I think..?
    With love, and tears, from Sweden ❤️?

  7. I’m guessing this is about Tomboy from last Friday’s post. Condolences to you, Anna, and to all of us who know mortality but embrace the eventual heartbreak anyway.

  8. What a wonderful way to remember your good times together. I love this and plan to adopt it. I frequently drive down the roads I rode with my horse. I guess that’s the same idea.

  9. Anna,
    I’m quite used to your poems leaving me misty, but this one is particularly teary of course! We all have our memories of special dogs, and collections of boxes of ash and bone. At least I do. But besides, that…. I’ve wanted to thank you for your poems because
    I had an Uncle Ed, who lived on a ranch in the plains of Kansas. He used to write “Cowboy Poetry”. I miss him, and I miss his poetry. When I read your poems, I’m swept back to my childhood and the plains of Kansas with the wild buffalo snorting behind us as we watch the cowboys cut cattle in the ring.
    Thank you for your poems! Thanks for the memories of old friends and relatives.

  10. Many wooden boxes of ashes have traveled with me from state to state, farm to ranch.

    The tough little cattle dog, Bandit, who would have loved to live on a ranch but missed it by a year. The cats, Bailey and Biscuit, who comforted me when times were grim and nights were cold. The English Setter, Chelsea, who still glides through my nights, her coat washing about her like the ocean did on our beach runs.

    And the Greyhounds, Bones and Creel, long retired from the track, now run for pure joy, not constrained by oak or cedar.

    Thank you Anna. This morning’s tears are for them and the wonderful memories.

  11. Geez…I can barely see the letters…you got to me. Again. I had great plans, back in March, to take Zaney to Rainbow Beach and let the wind take her, but I didn’t expect to be so not ready to be that far away from her. So she’s back on the shelf. I planted a tree. Then a wildflower garden. And just yesterday I put a vase of them by her. I’m hoping she’ll mentor my new rescue as I’m sure I’ll call on her from time to time.

  12. What a beautiful tribute and so well written. My shelf with those little boxes keeps growing. Its so hard to say goodbye. Thank you.

  13. Anna, you are the master of breaking loose thoughts that are desperate to bloom. Your poem made me think about how my spouse and I regularly observe and debate the intentions behind our dogs shenanigans. Which then leads us to remember and eulogize all the beloved creatures who have graced our lives before. Memories are the currency of a life well lived. This has never been more evident as it is now as I listen to tales from before my time in pathological repetition told by my mother living half way through her 9th decade. Her memories are the light in an otherwise dark and fading mind. Memories are precious even when they hurt. Thanks for leading me to some new and comforting perspectives.

    • In Slaughterhouse 5, Vonnegut talked about being “unstuck in time” and that’s where I was in high school and ever since. I don’t think of memories as happy or sad, but comforting. I can visit whenever I want. You’ve written a wonderful comment, thank you so much, Laurie.

  14. My ghost pack has many many members now….
    I keep the most special ones on a mantle in their tidy boxes. They are still willing to obey my every whim and comfort me from their home beyond this life. Good dogs. Each and every one of them.


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