A friend of mine posted a note letting his tribe know of the passing of his devoted dog Brownie. The post reminded me about my own loss of our beloved dog Axel. I recall that I was a basket case for weeks. I just couldn’t get over the grief. I needed to cry, but it wasn’t enough. Then I found something that helped me cope with all the emotions. Poems related to dealing with the passing of your dog helped me flush out all the guilt and pain. They certainly helped me from a variety of vantage points. Below is a selection that I cherished most during that rough patch. Perhaps they may help you too.
As Good As Your Dog
If you can start the day without caffeine,
If you can get going without pep pills,
If you can always be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains,
If you can resist complaining and boring people with your troubles,
If you can eat the same food every day and be grateful for it,
If you can understand when your loved ones are too busy to give you any time.
If you can overlook it when those you love take it out on you,
If you can take criticism and blame without resentment,
If you can ignore a friend’s limited education and never correct him,
If you can resist treating a rich friend better than a poor friend,
If you can face the world without lies and deceit,
If you can conquer tension without medical help,
If you can relax without liquor,
If you can sleep without the aid of drugs,
If you can say honestly that deep in your heart you have no
prejudice against creed, color, religion or politics,
THEN, my friend, you are almost as good as your dog.
Then, my friend, you are Almost as good as your dog,
Almost, but not quite,
Because besides not having any of your hang-ups and vices,
He would without hesitation, give up his life for you if need be.
— Virginia Trendall
If It Should Be
If it should be that I grow frail and weak
And pain should keep me from my sleep
Then you must do what must be done
For this last battle can’t be won.
You will be sad, I understand
Don’t let your grief then stay your hand
For this day, more than all the rest
Your love and friendship stand the test.
We’ve had so many happy years
What is to come can hold no fears
Would you want me to suffer? So
When the time comes, please let me go.
Take me where my needs they’ll tend
Only stay with me until the end
And hold me firm and speak to me
Until my eyes no longer see.
It is a kindness that you do for me
Although my tail its last has waved
From pain and suffering, I have been saved
Do not grieve it should be you
Who must decide this thing to do
We’ve been so close, we two these years
Don’t let your heart hold any tears.
— Author Unknown
With heavy hearts, and a tear in our eyes
After all these years, we must say goodbye.
Please understand, we’ve done all we could
If there was anything we could do, you know we would.
I’m sitting right here, gently rubbing your ears
While I talk to you softly, trying to hold back the tears
The memories you gave us, we’ll never forget
Especially the ones of the day we all met.
One last hug and one last kiss
You have no idea how much you’ll be missed.
To look into your eyes this one last time
You tell me it’s okay, you know it’s your time.
Close your eyes now and go to sleep
We’ll pray to the Lord your soul he’ll keep
Go in peace now, our good friend
We’ll stay right here with you until the end.
Dream of that special day and time
When we’ll meet at the Bridge and all will be fine
We’ll run and play, side by side
With a soft warm feeling deep down inside.
Your memory will live on in each one of us
You’ll always be number one to all of us
Have a safe journey through the night
I promise when you awake, you’ll be in God’s light.
So with heavy hearts and tears in our eyes
Just for now my friend, we say goodbye.
— John Quealy
I Lost A Friend Today
I lost a treasured friend today
The little dog who used to lay
His gentle head upon my knee
And share his silent thoughts with me…
He’ll come no longer to my call
Retrieve no more his favorite ball
A voice far greater than my own
Has called him to His golden throne.
Although my eyes are filled with tears,
I thank Him for the happy years
He let him spend down here with me
And for his love and loyalty.
When it is time for me to go
And join him there, this much I know…
I shall not fear the transient dark
For he will greet me with his bark.
— Author Unknown
The Dog Angel
High in the courts of heaven today
A little dog angel waits:
With the other angels, he will not play
But he sits alone at the gates;
“For I know that the Master will come,” says he.
And the Master, far on earth below,
Where he sits in his easy chair,
Forgets sometimes, and whistles low
For the dog that is not there;
And the little angel dog cocks his ears
And he dreams that his Master’s voice he hears.
And I know at last when the Master waits
Outside in the dark and cold
For the ‘Hand of Death’ to open the gates
That leads to those courts of gold;
A little dog angel’s eager bark,
Will brighten his soul in the shivering dark.
— Author Unknown
Axel was 18 years old when he passed. I got him as a puppy when my Daughter was born. He weighed 130 pounds, large for German Shepherds. He was Black and Silver and he was amazing. He was terrific with kids as they grew. He loved that tennis ball! And saying “wanna go bye-bye in the car?” inspired tremendous joy every time we had a road trip that included Axel.
He’d use the brass door knocker to let us know when he needed to go out and relieve himself and check and respond to his pee-mail. After his perimeter check, Axel would typically just plop down in the lush grass out front and watch the world go by. We’d say he was like Ferdinand the Bull, from the children’s story, smelling the flowers.
Once it got too hot, he’d hit the door knocker to come into the cool air conditioning. He was HUGE, but he was definitely an indoor dog! He was truly a member of the family. A faithful spaghetti, yogurt, nilla wafer lovin’ member of the pack.
He almost never barked. In 18 glorious years, he barked a dozen times, maybe. He dealt with kids diddling, putting crap on him, laying on him, pulling things that probably hurt, and nary a whimper or complaint. One day, at “Lake Pilsner,” our young daughter of 4 or 5 was just outside the patio door on the back porch with Axel near her side relaxing. We all heard a tremendous commotion and incredible snarling and roar. It was Axel dispatching a couple of untethered Pitbulls that tried to attack Liz. She was scared but said Axel took care of her.
Hey, we all have our flaws, even Axel. He was a shedding son of a gun! He cranked out hair to shed faster than weeds grow in June. Axel the vacuum killer! Oh, and that tail of his was the perfect height to completely clear a coffee table of all full glasses of Koolaid, wine, and beer! That happened a few times. LOL. Gawd I loved Axel.
In a flash, he turned 18 years old, the same month as my daughter turned 18. He was now a very old friend. His body could not do what his mind kept instructing. He began to hurt more and more. It was harder and harder for him to rise from laying down. The pills were a miracle for a couple of years, but the Vet warned us that it would not last and that Axels’ pain would be intense. At one point the Vet told us we’d know when it was time to bring him back for the final time. He was right, I hated him right then, but he was indeed right. You know.
It’s early in the morning and Axel can no longer get up at all though he tried so desperately to do so. He was in agonizing pain and yet he kept dealing with it in the months leading up to the day he could not rise. I just sat there with him so he’d quit trying to get up. Eventually, the whole family was awake and figured out why the tears and sat there on the floor at Axel’s side together. No words just lots of tears. No need for words. It was time for one last road trip.
I don’t actually remember carrying Axel to the car, and then into the Vets office. It was just a blur of a memory. I remember the Vet being really terrific. They definitely knew how attached we were. They helped me to say goodbye giving us all the time we needed together. I stayed with Axel to his last breath and then a little longer. Somehow I managed to drive back home, though I don’t really remember that either. I couldn’t stop crying. 6’6″ 300lbs blubbering uncontrollably. I know I did the right thing. I know Axel was in unfathomable pain. I know he was suffering. Yet, I still felt guilty. I couldn’t shake it. Then I found some poems that helped me. They helped me tremendously deal with all the emotions.
I’m still in mourning over the loss of Axel to be honest. I don’t want to think about dealing with that kind of loss again, so I have not considered another dog. Maybe someday that’ll change and I will get another dog. Anyway, I thought I’d publish my experience to commiserate with others who may be experiencing the same grief. Maybe the poems that helped me will help you too. If you’re reading this and don’t understand, it’s ok. Consider yourself lucky to have avoided the grief. But, I also pity you that you haven’t experienced the absolute unquestioning devotion and companionship of a great dog.