Dec. 20th marked the one-year anniversary of our family (2 humans and a beagle) adopting and bringing home Phoenix. At the risk of repeating prior posts, she is a face-licking, tail-wagging, tripawd pitbull. The worst thing I can say about Phoenix is that she’s not always thrilled about going out in the rain–and we’re getting plenty of that (f0rtunately) here on Northern California’s coast. Her health is great, her mood is sweet. I’m ending this post by including my poem “A Dog’s Prayer,” which I wrote in 1995. Several people have asked me for copies over the years. Now, 20 years later, in the spirit of Christmas and good health for all our tripawd kids, I’m sharing it here.
“A DOG’S PRAYER”
Bless my mom for giving me birth,
and my litter mates for their play,
the folks who gave me shots and food
and a safe home where I could stay.
Find forever homes for my friends,
many are homeless, you know.
Help dogs that live in fear, alone,
or whose spirits have sunken low.
Please keep my kennel warm and dry,
protect my pads from slivers,
instead of baths in soapy tubs
let me paddle in cool rivers.
Can I go outside and play
when the vacuum makes all that noise?
Give me plenty of rawhide chews,
hard bones and squeaky toys.
I like eating meat, not just kibble.
What about burgers from the grill?
Teach me to avoid skunky spray
and the porky’s sharp-pointed quills.
I will watch and herd my master’s clan,
old folks, kids and babies,
If Lord you protect me from poison,
angry guns and rabies.
Remind my folks to brush my coat,
to check my teeth and ears.
Let my smart vet have kind hands
while treating me over the years.
I’ll guide the blind, pull sleds in snow,
even work in the K-9 corps,
so shield my ears in lightning storms
and my tail from swinging doors.
When we’re on a deserted beach
and I scamper off chasing birds,
help me feel joy, not be ashamed
if I ignore those “Come here!” words,
Keep freckled-face children ignorant
of my sly cookie-snatching schemes.
And though cats can be my friends,
let me chase them in my dreams.
Shoo away the two neighbor boys
when I rest in the maple tree’s shade.
They always want me fetching sticks.
Can’t they learn a hobby or a trade?
Send me some suckers, Lord,
so my sad face will be able
to hook their naïve sympathy
and get food under the table.
Help my friends to understand
how my bark differs from my growl,
and grant them the tolerance to endure
my silent farts most foul.
Let me nap on the cozy couch
while they drive to the grocery store,
and if I’m lost, return me home
this, Lord, I do implore.
Remind them to roll down the windows
when they leave me inside a car,
and if traveling makes me queasy,
don’t make our trips too far.
May flea and tick prevention meds
keep those pests off my skin,
and when I roll in something gross
just forgive this impulsive sin.
Let my people sometimes ponder
if I can read minds, or have a soul,
and have their kids keep track of time
when they tie my leash to a pole.
And if I don’t ever win a ribbon
for best of show or breed,
award me with love anyway
for this is what I really need.
Finally, when I grow old and feeble,
let folks know when I can no longer cope,
then Lord, tell them to lay me to rest,
not to hold onto their false hope.
© 1995 Neil Tarpey