I’d lost two of my closest friends the past two summers, and now I thought I was going to lose my hiking partner. She was listless and hadn’t eaten in two weeks. I loaded her into the back of my Jeep and drove her to the doctors where a young veterinarian did blood tests, gave her 500 cc’s of fluids for hydration, and a shot for pain. The results from the blood test were grim. The veterinarian gave me her weekend hours and phone number before we left in the event I decided to put my hiking partner down.
Bella understood none of this. She laid around for another couple of weeks not showing much interest in food or activity. One night friends were over for dinner and we had leftover filet mignon. I cut it in small pieces and fed it to Bella. She scoffed it like a death row inmate would his last meal. In twelve years I’d never cooked for Bella, but I started mixing her food with gravy and she started wagging her tail when I woke in the morning, nudging me to play, and was eager to take walks.
We are preparing for our first long-distance hike since December.
Faith of a Golden
She doesn’t know the difference between a kidney
and a kidney bean. Failure sounds like filet mignon.
The vet tells me two needles. First, the tranquilizer.
She walks down an embankment, dunks her head
in the Ganges. Talks to a mare under the bottom rail.
Second needle, the last waltz. I worry about the cost
of cremation and burial. She licks her butt. Scratches.
She’s playing me. Refuses dog food, only bacon
and kielbasa. Her faith exceeds that of a bishop’s.
She can’t clasp her paws in prayer. Her religion is chasing
rabbits through fields of tall grass with no chance
of catching, repeating over and over never losing hope.
I wake each morning braced for death.
Her tail thumps against the shag rug.
* Many thanks to American Journal of Poetry