Poem: Ode to My Lost Puppy
My First Love
Bentley, a ray of sunshine, as sweet as honey, peace and serenity, a companion guide loyal and true, you are remembered with love and fondness. With particular interest, I remember your puppy days, watching you flopping around sliding from room to room in search of adventure with your eagle- scout human brother, Zachariah, you were his gift and sidekick—ah, those were the days, two young tots bestowed with vital energy that lit up every space inhabited, infusing those in your midst with a love of life and joy to last a lifetime through.
Bentley, you are remembered with love and fondness.
Oh, but my heart bleeds in your memory—I mourn you, for you suffered so, the blackened maladies cast darkness on your radiant light, dimming your existence, robbing your canine soul of the very essence that sustained you, that gave to those around you abundance and in the end, ever the protector, the giver, you attempted to release those who loved you most by succumbing in grace, but the horror of it all was too much to bear, the snuffing out of life, that wrenching decision, was it time? …evermore, that passing from light to darkness—how traumatizing!
Once that ray of sunshine, now diminished, a thorough flushing from grayness to the depths of blackness, a lifeless abyss, cold and frozen, an unrecognizable figure of a life that was once animated, warm and palpable, a beautiful presence no more in our midst, but to those who knew you and loved you most, you will live on in our hearts forever.
Bentley, you are remembered with love and fondness….
A Modern Romance
In an oppressive climate where corruption, environmental destruction, terrorism, abuse, and governmental control are ubiquitous forces in our daily existence, at least I for one can count on the unconditional love of my furry faithful companion, Bentley.
Whether I conquered the world, earned a six-figure salary or wrote a bestselling novella, Bentley always looks at me with adoring eyes, greeting me each and every day as if I were a prominent diplomat, missionary or famous peace activist. Regardless of my many quirks and imperfections, Bentley thinks I am a rock star, and it doesn’t get better than that because after all, there is a scarcity of unconditional love on this tumultuous planet of ours. So, sit back, relax, take another sip of your favorite java and enjoy our modern love story, a tale of a true mixed marriage.
I met Bentley about 10 years ago in the home of his breeder, Dr. Wang, inWhitestone,New York. Dr. Wang, a dentist and Shih Tzu aficionado was recommended to me by the American Kennel Club because his dogs were considered to be “champions.”
Dr. Wang showed me about 10 puppies, all well appointed, but I was fixated on only one, the little male who was a mere 6 weeks old, the one with challenges, the runt of the litter, the one sporting an asymmetrical white shawl-like marking over his right shoulder. To his breeder and the AKC, he was a loss of income, no show for him, but to me, he was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen and from that moment on, I knew that we would be together for many years to come-- it was love at first sight.
Bentley, as he came to be named by my son, Zach, a name picked for this adorable puppy because of his long and luxurious coat, and a metaphor for the quality fit and finish of a plush and prestigious vehicle. Little did we know then that the name he was anointed with would be the true definition of his existence in our world, mine in particular—Bentley was in a class all by himself!
Every day has always been an adventure with Bentley. As a very cerebral pooch, he weighs and considers all options placed before him, be it food, the right neighborhood journey, where to park and rest his little body or even what toy to play with. Clearly, this dog is no ordinary domesticated animal, he possesses high order thinking and for an educator like me, well, I enjoy this vicarious process.
Whether I am actively creating a curricular masterpiece [the writing of curriculum for a course] or in repose enjoying a good read, Bentley isn’t far away. In fact, his favorite spot is under my desk, neatly tucked in his little cave with his head perched on my toes as I sit and attend to my work. Bentley can always be found in close proximity to me—this is a dance we do daily as kindred spirits.
Bentley demonstrates his proverbial heart in the way he greets me and each family member upon returning home daily (Reese, 2000). As each of us arrive home, Bentley runs out to greet us and then he escorts us back, step by step, ever the protective one with his sovereign pack members. His energy in our household and in our lives has always been and continues to be palpable. And, we have always revered him as “our spiritual guide.” Yet, even with his many health challenges [Thrombocytopenia, thyroid disease, hereditary skin disease, cysts, corneal disease, arthritis, and more] that have left him over sixty percent blind, unable to be placed on antibiotics, open to infection and partially lame, he has never shirked his archetypical family role as caregiver and altruist (Carl Jung).This royal pup, with his ancient ties and his disposition for being a faithful companion transcends time and his “goodness” will be earmarked as his legacy.
This beautiful spirit who lives within a cloud of darkness has taught me many life lessons. He has taught me that where there is life, there is hope. And, against all odds, Bentley rises to greet each day with newfound strength and perseverance, a survivor in the true sense of the word. He seeks sustenance even though his rations are laced with heavy medications and regardless, he goes about his day serving up love to others, mainly me. Bentley is a hero in my eyes.
In fact, he earned that title about a year ago when he intuitively sensed that I wasn’t well. At times, he was glued to me and moaned when close to my abdomen. I couldn’t figure out why he was acting so odd. I thought for sure that he had taken a turn for the worse.
I was right because I took him to the vet and was told that he might not make it. At the same time, I was told that I would need emergency surgery. He knew, but lacked the literacy to inform me. I was traumatized and needy, but Bentley sprung into action; he knew that he had an important job to do, replete with unconditional love and support, no matter what.
So, he clung vehemently and courageously to familial terra firma in order to see me through a major life challenge. Steadfast and sure, and with the help of two female vet superpowers [Drs. Kleminger and Margoob], this magnificent canine rallied at the eleventh hour, only hours before my own surgery, in order to shepherd me into the O R in a state of emotional calm rather than burdening me with the heartache of grief. And when I was released from the hospital, Bentley ventured outside with me for daily walks so I could regain my strength, his too. Together, we braved the harsh winter elements and against all odds, we made it.
Well, the surgery was a success, the tumor, benign, but unfortunately, this as it turns out was no fairy tale because my furry significant other was at the crossroads of his own life. The tables turned and I had to provide unconditional support to my special love, Bentley---it came with something significant that I had to grapple with, how does one decide when life should be terminated? We have no true promulgated statute or benchmark for human beings and with our pets, well, no boilerplate exists there either. And as an educator, I had no rubric to refer to. I was left swimming in uncharted waters, a territory I am most uncomfortable with and terribly saddened by.
My cherished pet and furry significant other spent our remaining time together gazing into each other’s eyes, enjoying the good days we had together, hopefully those outweighed the bad. We took our daily constitutions when he was able to lift his head from his pillow, albeit shorter walks but walks just the same. And if he wasn't able to muster up the energy, I put him in his stroller and we cavorted about communing with nature or just passed the time doing some people watching. You see, it mattered not what we were doing; only that we spent some quality time together-- no matter how long that was.
I am ever mindful of the decision I had to make, it ripped at my heart, tearing me piece by piece because I just couldn't let him go.
Bentley was my modern love, fury significant other, if you will, an organic presence that filled my universe with pure joy and tremendous blessings, a love that sculpted me indelibly into a better person than I was some ten years ago before our very first encounter.
By, Robin Salmon-Grosswirth
My Newest Addition
Welcome to My Life, Cooper
A bundle of energy with a comical smile, you light up a room with your naughty style. Your native curiosity leads you on a daily mission, as you prance about communing without inhibition.
Like a busy little bee you move as if in flight, happily pollinating everyone in sight. Cooper, my angel, my furry new friend, my heart is now yours......until the very end...