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Tony Gentry

Walking the Dog

Updated: May 17

A week ago our beloved 7-year old golden retriever Ginny seemed in perfect health.  Today our vet confirmed that the lumps we found at her throat midweek are from canine lymphoma.  She may not live out the Summer.  Our shock and heartbreak may seem silly to you, unless your life has been enriched and in some ways saved by a dog, as ours have.  A couple weeks ago, before all this went down, I wrote a poem for Ginny that seems sadly prescient now, though the “best of all possible futures” cited there will not happen for her.  I’m sharing it here for what it’s worth.  It’s called “The Thing about Dogs”.

Ginny squats just inside the tree line, beside not on the trail, then bounds ahead tail high and wagging: Who knows what our walk may bring? A squirrel, a deer, once tortoises mating, his chest plate flat and scraping her helmeted back, reptilian paws squirming for purchase and she seeming to smile patiently allowing the one thrusting intrusion her armor would ever allow.  We animals — how alien to each other yet how much in our yearning alike!

Or that other time Ginny came bolting back tail between her legs because behind her loped at twenty paces in no special hurry a coyote bony as the wily cartoon in chilling pursuit her cousin – what all dogs would be, I guess, without us.

Most days it’s just a trudge I hardly register. She romps ahead then waits on her haunches my guide and example wondering why he can’t seem to forget himself for one minute. I mean, how much better to nose about, to sniff the riches, all the variants from yesterday’s adventure, oh here, see this dead branch has fallen!

Begrudge an hour after work. Let the girl off leash to run, let me off keyboard to stroll, and stretch our legs. Big deal.

Exactly. Because in the best of all possible futures – we have just 4 or 5 short human years before this will be too much for her. Her fluffy coat thinned, her muzzle grizzled and yes how I will cry that day we lay her ashes here.

Because then you know all these mundane walks that mean nothing but catching the air will rise past goals and objectives and balanced books to strike me hard across the face.

While all I fret over, my schemes and worry my grudges and drudgery add up to less than that cobweb brushing my cheek back when Ginny’s tongue lolled so giddily on her frolic ahead on a woodsy lane and oh too late I hear it now the world at my knee said, woof.

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