The death of dogs

On a Good Dog

O, my little pup ten years ago
was arrogant and spry,
Her backbone was a bended bow
for arrows in her eye.
Her step was proud, her bark was loud,
her nose was in the sky,
But she was ten years younger then,
And so, by God, was I.

Small birds on stilts along the beach
rose up with piping cry.
And as they rose beyond her reach
I thought to see her fly.
If natural law refused her wings,
that law she would defy,
for she could do unheard-of things,
and so, at times, could I.

Ten years ago she split the air
to seize what she could spy;
Tonight she bumps against a chair,
betrayed by milky eye!
She seems to pant, Time up, time up!
My little dog must die,
And lie in dust with Hector’s pup;
So, presently, must I.

Almaty Ataika died last night, in my bed, worn out from her cancer but peaceful. She was just short of 17, She had been my best dog, hound, pack leader, bird dog, and companion, and I’ll never have one better.

I read 2 passages from my late poet friend Tim Murphy’s Hunters Log: “the last look in her fearless eyes was trust” and “Vaya con dios, love, you were the dog of God”. Terri, who had also attended Lashy and Plummer, brought her to my bed to be kissed.

20 thoughts on “The death of dogs”

  1. I, too, just lost my dog.
    I, too, sent him home with a reading of Tim Murphy.
    I, too, despair. I am not alone, but somehow it feels like it.

  2. So fresh her loss what can I say to make it easier………..

    Like to quote you ‘A wind in the grass with teeth’.
    Probably there are less who have the experience as you describe in your book. Her shared photo’s have given a little insight about her natural beauty.
    I’m glad to have read your book and it is also the reason why her name sounded familiar to me.

    All the best,


  3. Steve & Libby,

    ” the last look in her eyes was trust ”
    We’ll never know if they mean , ” thank you , let me go now ” or ” help me , make me whole again
    They give us so much joy and love and trust and crush our hearts when they leave .


  4. Steve, I am so sorry to hear of yours and Libby’s loss. Outside of losing a sibling, parent, spouse, loved one or child, there is nothing more heartbreaking. Gil

    “This soldier, I realized, must have had friends at home and in his regiment; yet he lay there deserted by all except his dog. I looked on, unmoved, at battles which decided the future of nations. Tearless, I had given orders which brought death to thousands. Yet here I was stirred, profoundly stirred, stirred to tears. And by what? By the grief of one dog.”

    Napoleon Bonaparte, on finding a dog beside the body of his dead master, licking his face and howling, on a moonlit field after a battle. Napoleon was haunted by this scene until his own death.

  5. So sorry to hear–when an old dog passes, they take a good chunk of your own life with them. I’ve been dealing with numerous dog losses from my own pack–when I acquired so many(mostly rescues of one kind or another) a decade or so ago, I KNEW what I’d have to deal with when the majority of the pack became elderly at the same time…..I lost my once feral woods survivor little terrier mutt Bunny, in the early Spring–she was 14 or 15 I think. And I lost my gung-ho, scratchin’ gravel Bluetick hound Roland this past July, he was 14–probably my last Trail hound, simply because where I live, it is far too dangerous to cast far-ranging hounds It is too developed(busy roads), and too anally civilized(all this fuss about “trespassing”!). And speaking of such, the hardest blow, just lost my BEST trespassing dog ever(close ranging, well-camouflaged, highly obedient and protective) the day before New Year’s Eve, my beloved Griswold, my Weimaraner–he was a month shy of 14. He left a HUGE hole…..And I still have two oldies to go–Brick, a rescued feist-like mutt is 14 now, and getting purty decrepit. And I have a 15 year old Siberian Husky(Chara), but she’s still purty darn chipper and active! That’s a Siberian for you–they go and go and go, and then just keel over sudden like one day. I hope I’m so lucky! The two Tazi boyz(Bouriy and Yantar) at 7 are still hail and hearty, and so is the young Siberian someone dumped at my place that has inevitably become MY dog! She(Yegoza), is just 2. My thoughts begin to consider new additions, but they MUST be good trespassing dogs!

  6. I visit here every few days. I hope you are doing better. Been reading you since the old Gray’s days. Own every book by you. Thank you.

  7. Very sorry about your dog. That’s always hard, especially after nearly 17 years… Hope to see more of you soon. Haven’t been here for a while. Stay safe…

  8. So sorry about your beautiful girl. Of all of the people and dogs that I have lost, losing my first Saluki – wild, fierce, funny, smart, loyal, and breathtaking Culainn – was the hardest to bear. Tim Murphy’s poems were some consolation in desolate times.


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