Holding Down What We Have

The next morning I felt that our house
had been lifted away from its foundation
during the night, and was now adrift,
though so heavy it drew a foot or more
of whatever was buoying it up, not water
but something cold and thin and clear,
silence riffling its surface as the house
began to turn on a strengthening current,
leaving, taking my wife and me with it,
and though it had never occurred
to me until that moment, for fifteen years
our dog had held down what we had
by pressing his belly to the floors,
his front paws, too, and with him gone
the house had begun to float out onto
emptiness, no solid ground in sight.
~Ted Kooser “Death of a Dog”

God… sat down for a moment when the dog was finished in order to watch it… and to know that it was good, that nothing was lacking, that it could not have been made better.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke

Twelve dogs have left pawprints on my heart over my sixty five years.  Each dog of my childhood was my best friend to confide in, take walks with, to cry into the ruff of their furry necks. They always listened compassionately and never judged, even when I was in the wrong.

There was a thirteen year long dogless period while I went to college, medical school and residency, living in inhospitable urban environs, working unsuitable dog-keeping hours.  Those were sad years indeed with no dog hair to vacuum or slobber to mop up.

The first dog in our married life on the farm, a Tervuren,  rode home from Oregon on my pregnant lap in the passenger seat, all sixty five pounds of her.  I think our first born son has a permanent dog imprint on his side as a result, and it certainly resulted in his dog-loving brain yet he has lived ten years in the largest city on earth, sadly dogless.  

Six dogs and thirty four years later, we are currently owned by two gentle hobbit-souled Cardigan Corgis who are middle-aged and healthy. I hope they stick around with us for a few more years, but we have felt the unmooring of our home’s foundation when we have lost, one by one, our dog friends in the past, usually in ripe old age.

Dogs could not have been made better among God’s creations because they love unconditionally, forgive without holding a grudge and show unbounded joy umpteen times a day.    It’s true–it would be nice if they would poop only in discrete off-the-path areas, use their teeth only for dog designated chew toys, and vocalize only briefly when greeting and warning, but hey, nobody is perfect.

So to Buttons, Sammy, Sandy, Sparky, Toby, Tango, Talley, Makai, Frodo, Dylan Thomas, Sam Gamgee and Homer:  God sat down for a moment when He made you and saw that it was good.

You’ve been good for me too, holding fast my foundation to the ground..

Sam as puppy kid – photo by Nate Gibson
photo of Dylan Thomas by Nate Gibson

8 thoughts on “Holding Down What We Have

  1. We have loved and lost three four treasured dogs that did, indeed, love us unconditionally, and taught us many lessons. I enjoyed your blog.

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  2. our best friends… three are buried in the corner of our large back yard. they were selfless, sweet, fun, cuddly. we still miss them, especially our aussie, who stared at us in the earnest of ways until we “read her mind” and did something! God’s beautiful gifts to us…..

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  3. This is lovely, Emily. We are dogless, as our youngest daughter took her dog three years ago. At present we are in an apartment and can’t have a dog. My husband thinks this is good, but not for me.

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  4. Wish there was a “love” button. I think dogs are such special creatures. And our little doxie, Sadie, is my mooring for sure in uncertain times. We firmly believe she is an angel on loan, give to us during the worst time we’ve faced. Thank you for this.♥

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  5. Thank you. We, too, have loved and lost many best friends over the years. They are never forgotten however long ago it has been since we were held up by their uncondiional love and loyalty. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh, Emily…we had dogs, then dogs and cats and now only cats. And I love them all. Sam…what a cutie. What is the name of the black and white dog? That little face…<3

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  7. Nice to see ‘he boys’ looking so chipper — and loved! Sam looks as if he takes his job, and his seniority and inherent responsibility that goes with it, seriously. Homer, who seems to have passed his teen years by now exudes a carefree, laid back attitude along with certain pleasures– such as rolling in manure, as a unique beauty treatment. . Maybe that feels like a special ‘salon’ doggie bath to him — who am I to judge? Dogs and horses bring such joy and love to our lives. They seem to sense our human needs – especially when we are going through tough times and give us a knowing look and a little cuddle to let us know that they feel our sadness and will be there for us when we need an extra measure of that joy and love….

    Liked by 1 person

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