Poetry That Speaks in Wags and Wiggles


Being a good caretaker for your pup means taking good care of yourself, too. Maybe that means taking a break to read a lovely little book of poetry about dogs?

Recently, my mom gave me “Dog Songs,” a book of 35 poems and an essay by Mary Oliver. The poems by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author are uplifting, funny and, as a dog companion, extraordinarily relatable. As the New York Times puts it, “It’s…about love, impermanence and the tears in things. In a sense, her poems, with their charity and lyric clarity, can provide the kind of solace that dogs give.”

So much of this particular poem reminds me of my Haley.

“For I Will Consider My Dog Percy”
by Mary Oliver

For I Will Consider My Dog Percy

For he was made small but brave of heart.

For if he met another dog he would kiss her in kindness.

For when he slept he snored only a little.

For he could be silly and noble in the same moment.

For when he spoke he remembered the trumpet and when
he scratched he struck the floor like a drum.

For he ate only the finest food and drank only the
purest of water, yet would nibble of dead fish also.

For he came to me impaired and therefore certain of
short life, yet thoroughly rejoiced in each day.

For he took his medicines without argument.

For he played easily with the neighborhood’s bull

For when he came upon mud he splashed through it.

For he was an instrument for the children to learn
benevolence upon.

For he listened to poems as well as love-talk.

For when he sniffed it was as if he were being
pleased by every part of the world.

For when he sickened he rallied as many times as
he could.

For he was a mixture of gravity and waggery.

For we humans can seek self-destruction in ways
he never dreamed of.

For he took actions both cunning and reckless, yet
refused always to offer himself to be admonished.

For his sadness though without words was

For there was nothing sweeter than his peace
when at rest.

For there was nothing brisker than his life when
in motion.

For he was of the tribe of Wolf.

For when I went away he would watch for me at
the window.

For he loved me.

For he suffered before I found him, and never
forgot it.

For he loved Anne.

For when he lay down to enter sleep he did not argue
about whether or not God made him.

For he could fling himself upside down and laugh
a true laugh.

For he loved his friend Ricky.

For he would dig holes in the sand and then let
Ricky lie in them.

For often I see his shape in the clouds and this is
a continual blessing.

You can read about Ms. Oliver — and see photos of her Havanese, Ricky — in the New York Times here.

Image by Andy Sheng, Otis & Lucy Photography

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