Look Up! (Eulogy for a Good, Good Girl)

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Look Up!

She used to chase the shadows of birds across the ground
and dig where they disappeared
and never once thought to look up,
no matter how many times I tried to tell her to.

Chasing light across the pool, she’d pace
back and forth, along its further edge.

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Her first playmates the cats,
she could not follow them up into the trees,
but stood instead, barking at the bark they clung to.
Thinking herself a cat, perhaps,
or all of them some new species in between,
she followed wherever it was possible to go.
Up the broad steps to the second floor,
across the terraza and just a small leap
to the ledge of the high sloping dome of the roof.
Up to its top to lie or stand and bark at all who trudged up our mountain
to intrude into her world.

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She could see for blocks,
turning like a sundial with the sun
to change her focus, but usually starting at the point,
southward, that most invaders came from.
Neighbors led by unwelcome dogs on leashes
passed below her on their morning walks,
or farmers carrying hoes or machetes
up to the fields above.

Lines of burros plodding beneath her, facing uphill,
small herds of cattle
flooding down to the lake for water—
none escaped the attention of this reina,
who would bark directions to be on their way, fast,
and not to loiter.

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No creature had greater staying power than she.
The cats, bored with the high view,
moved to the bushes and trees to hunt possums, squirrels and salamanders.
Only she stayed true to her original position
as she looked ever down from that high dome,
only deserting it a year ago,
when I locked the gate that blocked her progress up—
not because I judged it unsafe for a dog grown arthritic and less sure of her step,
but because of the new puppy,
untrained by cats and with feet less experienced than hers.

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Feeling punished, perhaps, she traded her high domain
for a place beneath the terrace table

from which she watched the two upstarts
speed by to cavort in the lower garden
where she once chased bird shadows in the grass.

Version 2
She exercised her staying power one last time
as, looking down on a world reduced to only me,
never once blinking, she stared into my eyes
as I crouched beside the vet’s high table,
and looked straight back up into them,
the closest I’d ever been to her.

That table’s surface, straight and gleaming stainless steel,
was where she lay with her front legs spread-eagled
for the long hour it took to finally climb up that high dome again.
I wonder if she heard me as,
“Good girl,” I told her a hundred times that final hour, and meant it.
“Good, good girl. Look up now. And go on.
You were always such a good, good girl, watching out for us.
But now, look up. Go on.”

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The prompt word today is “Original.”

63 thoughts on “Look Up! (Eulogy for a Good, Good Girl)

    1. lifelessons Post author

      Well, Terri,I’m not even risking mascara today. I thought writing about it would help, and it did for awhile, but I just feel this incredible sense of guilt for not spending more time with her when I could. She was just so quiet and the other dogs so demanding of my time. I tried to make up for it by letting her sleep inside and have the run of the house, but so often it was just the two of us in the same house with her sleeping and me obsessing about my blog. She was so enlivened this past week that I pledged to do many more activities with her, including taking her to the beach when I go for three months in Jan. Now, too late for that. I tell myself to spend that resolution on the other dogs, but right now I am so heartbroken I can’t do anything but cry. I just can’t be adult about it but perhaps this is the final minute for this indulgence and next minute, I will get on with life, determined to learn the lesson I needed to learn.

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      1. Terri Webster Schrandt

        Aww, I totally identify with this! I wrote about it (I Lost My Oreo)–I would leave a link but my blog is kind of under construction at the moment. I felt so much guilt and Oreo died 5 years ago! He died when we were not home and my neighbor had to take him to the vet. She called and I helplessly had to agree to have him put down. I will never forgive myself (even to this day) for not being there for him. He did have a wonderful life and lived an additional two years because we took him to our windsurf camp. He was blind and deaf but he still had the time of his life. Your sweet doggie loved being by your side and you both benefited from being together. Sob your heart out! And have peace about it ❤

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    1. lifelessons Post author

      Thanks, Linda. I’m not taking this very well right now. Just seems so empty here. I’ve decided to take the other two out for ice cream. That might cheer us all up, although I’m sure Morrie will have diarrhea later. (Have you ever spelled that word correctly the very first try? I’ve looked it up more often than any other word in the English language.)

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  1. janebasilblog

    So sorry for your loss, Judy. I’m sure you know that feelings of guilt generally acompany grief. It sounds to me as if she was quite content to enjoy her own company most of the time.

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      1. lifelessons Post author

        That is my favorite way to travel.. just at my own rate stopping wherever and for as long as I wish. That’s how Pen and Ian, my housesitters, are traveling around the world in their motor home! They plan to take four years. That’s why they could take an unscheduled stop at my house and so glad they did.

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      1. rugby843

        My huge German Shepard-wolf and I were in vet’s reception. Going in for a check to see why he had stopped walking normally for a few days. When they took him away from me, he looked back as if to say, it will be okay. Still breaks my heart. Check revealed cancer tumors had surrounded all of his intestines and the vet called and asked if he could put him to sleep and we did. But that look.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. lifelessons Post author

        Oh. Rugby, that story. I know just what you mean about that look. Even though we’d had Frida in and out to the vet 8 r 10 times, I really thought she was on the mend. When the vet finally said that she was dying, right then and there, it was such a shock. And that look Frida had as we waited with her for her ending, I will never forget.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. judyreeveswriter

    Beautiful poem, Judy and beautiful tribute to Frida, good good girl. Cry all it takes, Judy. Life and love and loss, these are all of a piece sometimes.

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  3. Allenda

    Judy, this is such a lovely tribute to Frida. I love the sweet pictures you included, too. I am so glad that you were able to be back in Mexico and have time with her before she departed. I know the pain of your loss. We were in Oregon for my mom’s passing when we got the call from Ron, who was dog/house sitting for us. He was at Ladron’s office letting us know that Ta-Shi was seriously ill with kidney failure. We were desperate to get back to her. Dr. Ladron told us that the only chance she had was with dialysis and there was no assurance that her condition would permanently correct itself. Of course we told him to proceed. We were grateful to Ron for going to visit her at the hospital every day until we were back. When we picked her up at the hospital she was frisky and seemed well. We had one week with our girl before she became ill again. We were devastated but so thankful that we could be with her and hold her, comfort and love her as she took her final rest. This memory is making me cry now and my heart goes out to you and your good, good girl.

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    1. lifelessons Post author

      Okay, so we had exactly the same experience and we each had a little miracle in that we had a week to really fully appreciate our kids before they ran away from us for the last time. We know what good, good girls they both were.

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      1. Allenda

        Yes, we do and they will always have a place in our memories and our hearts. The next hard step was going away on a trip and and coming back the first time to an empty house after a vacation. The pain of not being greeted by her jubilant excitement, her eager escort of the suitcases as they wheeled back to the bedroom with her assistance. She walked on hind legs, helping push, eager to discover the wealth of treats and toys we would bring back for her. You are lucky to have Morrie and Diego to be there. It was almost a year before Pabu entered our lives bringing a lot of joy with her. Ta-Shi loved to dance, her favorite dance with me was a wild version hand to paw as I sang “Momma’s Little Baby Love’s Shortnin’, although she would come running in to dance whenever music was turned on. Pabu loves to sing, as you know. She will at times accompany music on the tv, cds or the the computer. Her current fav is the music to Longmire, and more recently that of Heartland. She is also partial to the sound of whinnying horses and feels compelled to give voice. Maybe it reminds her of Mexico. Each family member favors us with a unique personality, which at times only a mother can love. Relish the sweetness of each of your dear ones today. Sending warm thoughts to you and your little tribe.

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      2. lifelessons Post author

        I have to thank you for introducing me to Heartland. I am now on season 4. It is as addictive as chocolate and binge watching it was the only time in the past 48 hours when I haven’t been crying, at least when alone. Embarrassing, but I guess I wrote the book on grief and one thing I always tell people is that you have to let the tears out. I am feeling more in control now, yet still have a strange craving for Heartland! xoox

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    1. lifelessons Post author

      Me too, Tildy, for the past 29 hours..But strange as this might sound, it is so comforting to hear that other people feel it, too. I told a friend I felt guilty about being comforted by the tears of friends and he said, “Crying doesn’t make me feel bad. It makes me feel alive.” I think that is a wonderful quote and I hope he puts it on his blog. If not, I’m going to! Just have, I guess. https://okcforgottenman.wordpress.com/pith-in-140-characters-or-less/

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  4. Relax...

    A friend said he hopes that when we ourselves cross over, he hopes that all the dogs we ever loved come running up over the hill to greet us. You might hear the bark long before you see her, Judy — telling you to look up. 🙂 (((Hugs)))

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      1. lifelessons Post author

        aha.. this time it let me respond! Nope.. saying you should outlive me. (I responded to this in two other places as well as I couldn’t get the “respond” box to pop up. Then suddenly, this time, it did.

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      2. lifelessons Post author

        Especially fun when you haven’t saved your new work before it freezes. Sometimes I just compose on Word and then copy to WP when it is being difficult like this. Mine seems okay now, though. Do you report it when you are having problems?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Relax...

        I’ll reply here, lol. Well, but if I went first, I could whisper “Relax” in your ear when your time comes. And a knock-knock joke, maybe. I better go Google that so I can have a good one ready, just in case!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. lifelessons Post author

        Ah I was thinking about the tension on this side of the death experience, not the other. I’m not as sure of life after death as I know you are. Would be reassuring. For me, it is a matter of hoping, not believing. Fingers crossed.

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      5. Relax...

        It all just makes sense to me. We are so much higher than even other mammals, and there has been a taste and tease of eternal love via our loves here.

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  5. Margaret Fortune

    Dear Judy so so sorry for the loss of lovely Frida. She was such a delight to be with. It will be a big transition for you and the boys. The house will never be the same without her, Your tribute and pics filled my heart. What a wonderful home you both created for each other. Sending you love and energy for the missing and heartfelt times you will feel , till you get the sign She is on her way to great journeys. Love Margaret it was a honour to take care of her. Sleeping at the end of the bed it felt comforting. XXOO

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    1. lifelessons Post author

      Do you mean the new editor? I tried it and went back to the old one. Also the old stats, which I prefer. I miss their telling us what countries our viewers are from. Don’t know why they stopped that!

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  6. Allenda

    Glad Heartlsnd is providing a respite from your grief. We had to go through withdrawal when we saw our final episode. There are supposed to be three more seasons so we can binge again.

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    1. lifelessons Post author

      You could start all over again? You’ve probably already forgotten the first episodes. Probably I have as well, and I’ve only been watching for two weeks now. (Well into my 4th season, as well. I’m a fast study.)

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    1. lifelessons Post author

      It’s so hard to know what to do with grief, and certainly the creation of a poem or a painting or some other art of commemoration is for me the best solution. You have a reason in addition to the reason grief affords, to concentrate on the lost loved one and to have a positive and concrete result afterwards.

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  7. Cynthia Jobin

    I just happened on this and wept uncontrollably.. I lost my own twelve-year old dog a few months ago. There has been enough of loss and grief in my life so I think I know how to handle it, but each time it’s the first overwhelming, all over again. And I have grieved more for a pet than for many a human person. My heartfelt condolences, Judy.

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    1. lifelessons Post author

      Thanks, Cynthia. I still cry every time I read it as well.. or if anyone mentions her name. The dog next in age to her seems to be grieving as well. He doesn’t play with the youngest dog anymore and tends to just sleep in his cage or in a chair on the patio. Total personality change. I’m sure we’ll get over it but we are both going through a little depression, I think.

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      1. Cynthia Jobin

        I think animals do grieve as well. I had two cats, and one of them also died recently…the other one was definitely affected by this loss as well as that of the dog. I wrote a poem about it—“Last Cat Conundrum,”. In fact I have quite a few poems about the deaths and euthanasia of my pets in the past. After the death of the cat this year I wrote a lullaby, “Sleep, My Little Cabbage” as he died quietly and peacefully here at home as if simply going to sleep. It struck me strange, at the time that we have lullabies for babies but none for creatures—including ourselves—who are moving into the biggest sleep of all.
        But I don’t mean to go on. I hope you will find peace of mind and heart before too long….and your little dogs too.

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      2. lifelessons Post author

        That last phrase sounds a bit like the Wicked Witch of the West’s line in “The Wizard of Oz,” Cynthia… ha. Searching for your poems now. I don’t mind links, by the way. I once had a blogger become furious because I included a link in a comment–a poem that related to his poem, which I had raved over. He came unhinged and said I was just using his blog to garner views––something I’d never thought of doing. At any rate, I do not agree with him. I appreciate links (pingbacks) so don’t hesitate if you ever wish to comment back with work of your own.

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