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Also see Cat Poems, Cat Pages, Dogs and Dog Pages.
When Lord Byron lost his favorite Newfoundland dog, Boatswain, he erected a tomb over the dog's ashes with these words inscribed on a plaque:
"Here lies the remains of one who possessed beauty without vanity, courage without cruelty, and the virtues of all human beings without any of their vices."
We are thinking now of a setter, whose coat was flame in the sunshine
and who, so far as we are aware, never entertained a mean or unworthy thought.
This setter is buried beneath a cherry tree, under four feet of garden loam,
and at its proper season the cherry tree strews petals on the green lawn of his grave.
Beneath a cherry tree, or an apple, or any flowering shrub of the garden,
is an excellent place to bury a dog.
Beneath such trees, such shrubs, he slept in the drowsy summer,
or gnawed at a flavored bone, or lifted his head to challenge some strange intruder.
These are good places, in life or in death.
Yet it is a small matter, and it touches sentiment more than anything else.
For if the dog be well remembered,
if sometimes he leaps through your dreams actual as in life,
eyes kindling, questing, asking, laughing, begging,
it matters not at all where that dog sleeps and at last.
On a hill where the wind is unrebuked, and the trees are roaring,
or beside a stream he knew in puppyhood,
or somewhere in the flatness of a pasture land, where most exhilarating cattle graze.
It is all one to the dog, and all one to you,
and nothing is gained, and nothing is lost--if memory lives.
But there is one best place to bury a dog.
One place that is best of all.
If you bury him in this spot, the secret of which you must already have,
he will come to you when you call--
come to you over the grim, dim frontiers of death,
and down the well-remembered path, and to your side again.
And though you call a dozen living dogs to heel they should not growl at him,
nor resent his coming, for he is yours and he belongs here.
People may scoff at you, who see no lightest blade of grass bent by his foot,
who hear no whimper pitched too fine for mere audition,
people who may never really have had a dog.
Smile at them then, for you shall know something that is hidden from them,
and which is well worth knowing.
The one best place to bury a good dog is in the heart of his master.
When a pet dies, that special place in our hearts
feels so empty . . .
But we realize, as time passes, that animals have
a way of teaching us about loving, about
loyalty, joy, and friendship . . .
And whatever we've shared in their presence can never
really be lost.
We who choose to surround ourselves with lives even more temporary than our own, live within a fragile circle, easily and often breached.
Unable to accept its awful gaps, we still would live no other way.
We cherish memory as the only certain immortality,
never fully understanding the necessary plan.
What to choose?
Because I love her,
They Will Not Go Quietly
They will not go quietly,
Old habits still make us think
Our feet still go around the place
And although time may bring new friends
A dog sits waiting in the cold autumn sun,
Too faithful to leave, too frightened to run.
He's been here for days now with nothing to do
But sit by the road, waiting for you.
He can't understand why you left him that day
He thought you and he were stopping to play.
He's sure you'll come back, and that's why he stays
How long will he suffer; How many more days?
His legs have grown weak, his throats parched and dry
He's sick now from hunger and falls with a sigh
He lays down his head and closes his eyes
I wish you could see how a waiting dog dies.
If it should be that I grow weak,
And pain should keep me from my sleep,
Then you must do what must be done,
For this last battle cannot 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 for me must stand the test.
We've had so many happy years--
What is to come can hold no fears.
You'd not want me to suffer so;
The time has come, so let me go.
Take me where my needs they'll tend
And please stay with me until the end.
Hold me firm and speak to me
Until my eyes no longer see.
I know in time that you will see
The kindness that you did for me.
Although my tail its last has waved,
From pain and suffering I've been saved.
Please do not grieve--it must be you
Who had this painful thing to do.
We've been so close, we two, these years--
Don't let your heart hold back its tears.
There is a bridge connecting Heaven and Earth.
It is called the Rainbow Bridge because of its many colors. Just this side of the Rainbow Bridge, there is a land of meadows, hills and valleys with lush green grass. When a beloved pet dies, the pet goes to this place. There is always food and water, and warm Spring weather. Those old and frail animals are young again. Those who have been maimed are made whole again. They play all day with each other.
But there is only one thing missing. They are not with their special person who loved them on earth.
So, each day they run and play until the day comes when one suddenly stops playing and looks up. The nose twitches, the ears are up, the eyes are staring, and this one suddenly runs from the group.
You have been seen, and when you and your special friend meet, you take him or her in your arms and embrace. Your face is kissed again and again and again and you look once more into the eyes of your trusting pet.
Then you cross the Rainbow Bridge together, never again to be separated.
I once read a very good children's book about the death of a pet. I think the name of it was The Tenth Good Think About Barney.