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Dog Blessings – recommended book!

Following the loss of Marmaduke and Molly, I embarked on a project to compile poems and tributes to dogs that had died. I found them in out of print books and out of the way places. Most of the tributes that were ultimately published in Angel Pawprints; Reflections on Loving and Losing a Canine Companion were written in the early 1900s, although I included a few contemporary poems as well. Through this project I became a collector of antiquarian dog books, vintage photos of dogs, and quotes about dogs. I never tire of reading about dogs and the countless ways in which they enrich our lives. Thus, I was delighted to find this treasure, a new book called Dog Blessings; Poems, Prose, and Prayers Celebrating Our Relationship with Dogs, edited by June Cotner.dog-blessings

The carefully-chosen selections are organized into chapters based on themes, though several could fit in more than one category. Chapters cover all stages of a dog’s life and are titled A Dog’s World, Puppies, Our Bond, Devotion, Aging Gracefully, Partings, Reflections, and Prayers, Blessings, and Inspiration. Several selections are suitable for a pet memorial service. Others are humorous, such as “Queen of Canine Capers,” Destructor of our flower beds/Disturber of our sleep/In spite of all her troubling ways/Her company we keep. One of the most poignant selections, “Voices from the Shelter,” is written in the voice of an old dog in a shelter. It concludes: I can’t see as well as I once did, but I can see a kind face/And sense at least a passing interest in me./I won’t rattle the bars, takes too much energy./But I’ll wag my tail for you to remind you/That someone once loved me very much, and I him,/And I still have love to give. Do you need some? Take me.

I discovered this book during Emily’s last months, and I kept it at my bedside, reading a selection each night. One of the poems that particularly spoke to me is about an old dog named Besty. Emily loved to run and chase balls, and in her younger days was magnificent, running full out across the yard, her legs and ears flying. The poem Besty concludes: I pack a final snowball full of stars/and toss it out to where the horizon flickers…I love the image of Emily, and of all beloved dogs, chasing a final snowball full of stars as we say goodbye.

Dog Blessings is a treasure, a lovely affirmation of the human-canine bond, and a wonderful gift for anyone who loves dogs. For more information, please visit the Favorite Dog Books page.

3 Responses to “Dog Blessings – recommended book!”

  1. June Cotner Says:

    Thank you so much for your wonderful review of my book, DOG BLESSINGS! I greatly appreciate all of your kind words. The poems that you chose for your review speak deeply to me, too. I’m glad that the selections in DOG BLESSINGS gave you comfort during Emily’s last months. I just lost my beloved golden retriever Mary. When I knew her time had come, I sat on the floor with her, cried and read favorite selections from the book to her. I had been saying goodbye to Mary for the last year (we knew her death was imminent due to a tumor). Mary seemed to appreciate this last acknowledgment of her life and how much she meant to me. Let me know if you’d like to receive a review copy of a previous book, ANIMAL BLESSINGS: PRAYERS AND POEMS CELEBRATING OUR PETS.

  2. R. Hancock Says:

    It’s gratifying to read that something I wrote touched someone enough for them to write about it in turn. That old dog I used to talk to on rescue Sundays certainly touched my heart, as did all of the animals I met there.

    My last dog went to the big kennel in the sky about 4 years ago and I moved on to cats, simply because 1) they’re easier to manage the older you get, and 2) I got adopted by a mamma cat who brought her baby to visit me two days after my last dog departed. I’ll never know how she knew that, but she did, because I had NEVER seen hide nor hair of that baby before she knew it was safe to bring him into the yard. (She and I had developed a friendly acquaintance on her trips through my yard, and we would sit under my tree and talk, but she never allowed me to touch her.) At any rate, within a week, both momma and baby were living in my house. A lot of neighborhood strays visit the “cat house” on my patio, which is always stocked with food, but so far Sweetpea and Tommy are the only insiders. But my sweet little girl Alex, a terrier/golden retriever mix, paved the way for them by opening my heart to animals.

  3. Marti Touchstone Says:

    Dog Blessings is definitely one I’ll order and keep next to Angel Pawprints, which I cherish. The other day I realized that in dog years, all three dogs are now older than I am. The “baby” is now 9 and whereas she still does her signature helicopter spin jump when she flirts with a male, it’s now at
    ankle height, not at my waist or above. Her aunt has a heart murmur and does not consistently lead the pack on hikes: I have to call her back to the trail less and less, a blessing and a curse. And the rescue male sleeps more and hikes can actually fatigue him now, something I couldn’t imagine 18months ago. He’s probably 12 or 13. I’m grateful for reading opportunities that give words to the experience of savoring every moment with each of them and prepare me for inevitable loss… and an inevitable puppy. The only way to live through it is to start again.