A year and a prayer

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.


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

Author: 2013sophie

We're a senior retired couple (one ceramic artist, one writer) living in Eureka--on Northern California's redwood coast. We each grew up in NYC but met here in Humboldt County 25 years ago. We feel blessed that our three prior dogs (all females) each lived to age 14+ years. Our beagle Chloe crossed over into K9 heaven in August, 2017, and left behind her younger "sister," Phoenix, our tripawd. She's a sweet, tail-wagging, face-licking, pit bull. Phoenix joined our pack in December, 2014 [4+ years ago], three months after her right front leg was amputated at age 4-5? Phoenix had been hit by 3 cars in the SF Bay Area, and two great Samaritans named Ralph & Mya stopped traffic to rescue Phoenix on the road and drive 5+hours north to Miranda's Rescue, a no-kill facility in our county.

7 thoughts on “A year and a prayer”

  1. Thank you for sharing your “Dog’s Prayer” with us. It was lovely. A very true sentiment.
    I am glad you brought Phoenix into your home

    Michelle & Angel Sassy

    1. Dear Michelle & Angel Sassy,
      Thanks for your kind words about my poem. We are indeed blessed to have Phoenix in our family. Even when she occasionally (like today) head-butts me with her strong pitbull skull (because she’s excited) while I’m trying to tie my shoelaces to take her out for a walk! Happy New Year! Woof! Woof! Woof!


    You are clearly a Christmas gift to your humans, as they are to you!

    And this poem…WOW!!! This is a delightfully insightful poem. You are really tuned into dogs and have done a brilliant job of giving them voice.

    Just curious as what (or which dog) compelled you to sit down and write this poem from a dog’s perspective. It really is masterful and heartfelt.

    The Merriest of Christmas es ro you and Phoenix!

    Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

    1. Dear Sally, Hannah, Myrtle and Frankie,
      Thanks for your kind words. Barney the beagle joined our family when I was 6, and he lived until I was almost 21. He really helped me bond with the dog world. Including Barney, I’ve been blessed to have been part of the lives of four dogs who lived at least 14 years. And Chloe, Phoenix’s beagle sister, will be 13 in February. So the K9 world has impacted many years of my 64-yr.-old life in a huge, positive way. But to answer your question, probably what “compelled” or inspired me to write this poem about dogs, their roles in our lives, and their “inner” thoughts, was a dog named Emma. In 1995, a year after a rough stretch (my father dying, having to file for bankruptcy, my first marriage ending in divorce), I found myself living in a walk-up apartment with Emma, my 5-yr-old female beagle/golden retriever mix. Emma & I had been close since we adopted her from the local pound in 1990, and, five years later, she helped me heal from an emotionally challenging time. Sitting in the apartment, I just kept jotting notes about dogs’ lives until the “Prayer” came to life. She died in 2005. I hope you guys have a healthy and wonderful Christmas and New Year. Woof! Woof! Woof!

  3. Ohhh Neil this is wonderful, what an awesome poem! Would it be OK if we shared it in our next Tripawds Newsletter? What a gift to the community, thank you so much for giving us a look at your talents.

    Glad to hear things are good. I don’t care how many times you tell us how Phoenix is doing even if it’s all the same, it’s just good to know that life is treating you both so well.

    Enjoy the rain and snuggling up together, this will be a long winter for you guys!

    Hoppy New Year and Much love from your former Eurekans, Rene, Jim, Wyatt Ray & Spirit Jerry

    1. Dear Rene, Jim, Wyatt Ray & Spirit Jerry,
      Thanks for the note … and you guys know about rainy Eureka winters. On that note, after several “dry” winters, this one is off to a wet start–almost at 22″ of rain already; normal at this stage is usually 15″. As for the poem, feel free to use it however you want, passing it on to friends, putting it in a newsletter, whatever works for you. Even though I wrote it, I was just putting into words what our K9 friends–whether they’re tripawds or have 4 cylinders–have been teaching us our whole lives. Hoppy New Year!

  4. Awww…thanks for sharing the inspirations for the poem. Emma is proudly watching over you from the Bridge and with Barney by her side!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.