To Love A Dog

To love a dog:
There is no greater gift.
He relies on you and he trusts you,
and he gives you all he has in his shaggy dog heart.
He shows you with his wagging tail and wagging body
and big warm smiling eyes.

To lose a dog
feels like a burn on your skin
from the last time he laid solid and warm against your arm.
Forever you’ll know the texture of his fur under your fingernails
because you knew exactly how to scratch him, just the way he liked.
You’ll know his smell – stinky wet dog! –
but mostly you’ll remember the earthy scent that clung to your nose
when you bent down and kissed his head. “Good dog.”

The hole in your heart hurts so.
Such sadness, because your friend gave you so much joy.
The hole will not close, I know, but it will fill again,
with all good and funny memories,
because you’ve known the greatest gift:
To love a dog.

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