In the process of compiling Angel Pawprints; Reflections on Loving and Losing a Canine Companion, I acquired an extensive library of dog literature, including poems, stories, essays, and tributes. I love the old books with their thick, rough-edged pages and charming pen and ink illustrations. Sometimes there is a bookplate on the inside cover or inscription in flowing fountain-pen script on the frontispiece. I like to think of the book’s previous owners and how they must have loved dogs too. I’ve decided to share some favorite dog poems in this blog. On weekends when I walk Alex through the woods at our mountain cabin, he is usually out ahead of me, exploring the grasses and wildflowers at road’s edge, snuffing the chipmunk holes, and chasing butterflies. It does my heart good. I sometimes think of walking Emily along the same route. As an old dog, she plodded along beside me with little interest in the smells or fluttering butterflies. All that mattered to her was to be by my side. I think of her often as we walk, and the following poem by Rudyard Kipling comes to mind.
I have done mostly what most men do,
And pushed it out of my mind;
But I can’t forget, if I wanted to,
Four-Feet trotting behind.
Day after day, the whole day through -
Wherever my road inclined -
Four-Feet said, ‘I am coming with you!’
And trotted along behind.
Now I must go by some other round, -
Which I shall never find -
Somewhere that does not carry the sound
Of Four-Feet trotting behind.