Saturday, September 8, 2012

When Dogs Die

Last month, Agnes died. They got her as a pup over 15 years ago and just a few days after a neighbor shot dead their beloved malamutes for "bothering" his sheep.

Agnes was gloriously red, energetic and fully devoted to her mom and dad, who also happen to be my parents. I guess that makes her my sister. But she was also very old, blind, and could no longer get around and it was clear that her time had come. On that August day, the vet came to the house and, with the ones she loved most in the world by her side, for one last time, Agnes fell happily asleep. Afterward, my father buried her in a deep hole he'd dug out back. They put a huge rock on top of the spot which will, no doubt, become a favorite jumping off place for the grandkids. I think Agnes would have liked that.

She had a good life and was spoiled in every way, but I know my mom's heart is broken so I wrote a little poem for her, and for Agnes.

"For Agnes"
I have never been a dog person
they take up my time
they need to be walked
my heart has chosen smallness
before such expansive giving
Someone will ask, "Do dogs go to heaven?"
"Can animals live forever?"
Foolish humans with their questions!
Heaven is Love
Dogs love.
that's what they do
that's who they are
(cats endure us! but dogs adore us)
why? why? when our rising is at best beneath them!
Certain lucky ones, somehow in the mystery
become the objects of their adoration
and the feeling bends to mutuality
which is evidence of divinity
look at my mother and her dogs
I have never been a dog person
but I may yet be!
my heart seems softer, larger now
on this saddest of days
because of Agnes
Agnes of the Lake

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