In Dog Years

We watch as,
with age,
dog muzzles turn white,

eyes cloud with cataracts
(but do not lose their patient glow).

fatty lumps appear under their skin
(as a matter of course, not disease).

Because dogs do not get botox
and are not bitter that

their hips are arthritic,
their once shiny hair
has turned dull and dry,
their running days over,

Because their acceptance
Put into words
                “Now this…now that…”
softens time,
calms the heart,
I, wrinkled and graying, 
am inspired.

After Listening to Tiokasin Ghosthorse

Name yourself the Lakota way

see how

streams reflecting sunlight

run in your veins,

stars shine

on your brow.

Go to the forest the Lakota way.

hear roots

whisper wordless

under the the soft-handed canopy

holding you as you 


Know this boulder the Lakota way

and you will understand 

something solid

Is not

but glows and glitters

with light

like your bones 

like boulders,

that by constant motion joined,

speak your name.

Because I am in you, and you are in me.~~Thich Nhat Hanh

This morning
ten ducklings scurried next to their mother
on the grass bank of Tinney Creek.

It’s the time of year for births at the creek
and on the wheel of birth’s
death for all but a few of the ducklings.

Helpless I watched
hoping the crow’s kill was quick
hoping the duckling felt only soft grass and sky

Being human this seems a loss to us
until we arrive at the meal.

This evening in a restaurant a person will order duck
for their dinner.
Talons or forks
the same but

One is choiceless, the other chooses.

For feathers or skin
made of ducks and ducklings
we ought bow in gratitude

or regret.

Dogs Are Almost Perfect, But…


Dogs, like people, can be difficult to love sometimes. Every dog family has its dysfunction. It’s not nearly as bad as it can be in families that are all human, but, it can still be a trial.

I love all the dogs I dog-sit, but they are not without their quirks. One has a bark that, inside, is painful to the ears and I worry a little about damage to my hearing. There are too many FedEx trucks in the world! And why don’t mail delivery people just toss the mail from their vehicles as they pass the house. Why in the world do they need to storm the house like invading armies, the dog wonders.

All of them tend to scratch my arms because it seems I do not notice that it is time for someone to get an ear scratch. My skin is thin and  the blood blisters on my arms are not so attractive!  Usually a long sleeve sweater helps, but not always.

Another dog has terrible separation anxiety, maybe because his parents travel a lot and leave him or maybe he was born with that trait. Either way it can be heartbreaking to leave him even to go to the store for a little while. The panic in his eyes is painful to see. It’s worse when he freaks out and jumps like a whirling dervish—he is a big, strong boy and his nails on my back hurt.

Sometimes I can’t tell what my pups want. This must be what it is like with an infant who cries no matter how the parent tries to soothe them.

I take out the leash and say “Out?” He lies down and looks at me. Okay, not out. “

“Chew thing?” Another blank look; it’s not that he doesn’t like chew things, he seems to be saying, but not this chew thing. He looks at me like I should know this by now. And actually I do, so why do I keep trying with that chew thing. Some of us never learn.

“Cookie?” That always get a positive reaction and all is right with the world. For about an hour. Then it’s time for ball tossing. This guy is very smart and has me trained. He looks up at the drawer in the bureau where the balls are kept and gives a slight bark. I get the ball. He is a talented ball player. I especially admire how when I throw the ball and he hits it back to me with his nose.

So I am trained by my dogs to be patient, to pay attention, to go out, to sit, and that’s just the truth!

Breakfast with Meeko


This morning I made a big mistake. Much smaller than anything that matters, fortunately, but it ended up with Meeko winning.

I made two slices of toast covered with peanut butter and jelly. I was hungry and out of my cereal. I was looking forward to that toast. I set it down at the kitchen table and went to look for my cell phone. There is a chair at the table—you may are already know where this is heading. I’ve seen Meeko jump up on that chair several times.

I came back with my phone and found him grabbing a piece of toast from the plate. No way could I get him to drop it, although in my fruitless chasing, jelly splattered on the floor. He ran from me in a most jaunty manner, then jumped on the futon in the TV room and ate the toast happily. while I wiped the floor clean.

The futon is his choice to go with a treat, I think, because sometimes I eat there while watching TV. I guess it is our recreation space and he was recreating. The living room is for a different purpose. He perches on the top cushions alongside the big window. You never know when enemies like UPS trucks might dare arrive.

By the way, he got the best piece too. Did he know which one was the best?   I was stuck with the heel of the bread..Mind you, he had already had his own breakfast. Oh, foolish human, as if that makes any difference!

I slipped up on my knowledge of dogs and tables and food on the tables. When I lived with my own dogs I knew to follow the commandment Thou Shalt Not Leave Food Where the Dog Can Reach It. However,  I have to admit that it’s always very cute when they get away with their thievery–at long as the food is not bad for them. Perhaps I am anthropomorphizing too much, but they sure do seem proud at winning the forbidden prize.  At those times I know I am not so agile and clever. I forget that, like with a child, you are being watched. A lot. Nearly all the time unless a squirrel or mail carrier comes by. Otherwise its all eyes on the giver-of  meals, thrower-of -squeaky-toys and petter-on-call.