My Doxie, A Poem and Me

It’s snowing off and on as I write this, and I’m thinking of my two favorite other snow days when my husband didn’t have to go to work, and we had the days to ourselves. One of those days, while the snow piled high outside, inside, we listened to music and read and talked, warmed by the fire. The second time, we braved the elements to have lunch by firelight at a local rustic inn.

Those are romantic moments to me. I’ve often said we romance authors are all married to engineers even if they aren’t engineers. My husband is an educator, teacher of English and former high school administrator. But really, he’s an engineer. He’s linear, he’s a one-thing-at-a-time guy, he doesn’t sugar coat anything. He solves problems. Don’t all heroes?

Another favorite memory happened on a summer day when he wanted me to listen to an album of poetry — Billy Collins — so we drove to Litchfield listening to the CD, had lunch, and continued listening on the way home. After which I immediately wanted to start writing poetry because listening to Billy Collins just inspires you that way.
One of the poems, “The Revenant,” really resonated with me. It was from the viewpoint of a dog in the afterlife, finally confessing his true feelings about his long-time owners, words to the effect of — I never liked you. I hated the food you made me eat. I despised this. I never liked that.
You get the idea. A litany of dislikes and resentments. It made me look at my mini-doxie in a whole new light. Did she hate me? Despise the “naming of the parts” game I played with her? Hate all the silly nicknames I gave her? Did she resent my re-naming her “Munch”?

She was my mother-in-law’s dog, as I may have mentioned previously, a gift after the sudden death of mom’s then canine companion, Casey. The problem was, mom was ninety at the time, had macular degeneration, and was pretty unsteady on her legs.
So my Munchkin started out in pretty shaky circumstances: taken from her mother at 6 weeks, flown up to NY, put in the hands of strangers who then gave her to an elderly nearly blind lady who couldn’t properly care for her.

Something had to give; a year or so later, something did: mom fell, went to the hospital, and we took Midgie. At the time we had our beloved galumphing lab mix, Maggie who was about four times Midgie’s size. We honestly didn’t know what to expect. Mom always thought Midgie would be eaten alive by Maggie. But that didn’t happen.
They got along just fine. Midgie — or Munch — would chase Maggie around the kitchen-dining-living room and then hide under her legs so Maggie couldn’t find her. Or she’d climb up on the couch pillows dive bomb onto Maggie’s back. When they slept, Munch’s body language imitated Maggie’s. I really think Maggie taught Munch how to behave.

She was, as was Maggie, the Best Dog Ever. We were privileged to love her for ten years, and our beloved Maggie for twelve. We lost Maggie to cancer two years before Munch passed away a dozen days into 2011.
Munch’s was the hardest passing to bear, maybe because we’re that much older. And so, the first time in 45 years, we don’t have a dog in the house.
In truth, I’m a little scared. What will he think? What if he hates us? How will we know? And, after all, we still have memories and pictures – and a cat.
I really don’t want to wonder if Munch was happy — I think she was — I loved her to pieces, walked her, fed her, spoiled her rotten, made up songs about her, played with her — but a year after that lovely lunch in Litchfield, that Billy Collins poem continues to haunt me. I never liked you …
And still I wonder …
Did she hate me?

Do you have a pet? Would you? Wonder, I mean …]
How powerful words are.
How about you? Any pet stories to tell? Any poems that resonated on that level? Meantime, I’d seriously advise you to occasionally look deep into your pet’s eyes and try to divine what she or he is really thinking.

(You can read The Revenant on-line.)

Thea Devine’s books defined erotic historical romance. She’s the USAToday best-selling author of 25 historical and contemporary romances and a dozen novellas. She’s currently working on an erotic contemporary romance. She misses her Munchkin terribly.

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4 thoughts on “My Doxie, A Poem and Me”

  1. Sweet story, Thea. I just lost my beloved (if not Kujoesque) lab/husky mix, Zak in September. The house is incredibly quiet and lonely without him. He had some personality quirks–like not getting along with other animals–but I saved him from certain death as a pup and he showed his gratitude every day by being a loving and faithful companion. We were his pack.

    My husband and I are not “cat people” and having a dog requires much time and expense training and caring for them properly. I’m one of those people who thinks about the long term responsibility and won’t take it on just because I want the company. Pet adoption shouldn’t be an emotional decision. It should be about giving an animal a good home. As we get older, my husband and I plan to travel more which would certainly be more difficult with a dog. I live so far out in the country that I used to have my neighbors come up a few times a week to let the dog out on my long days at work. I also live close to a highway and worry about cars since I’ve lost two other dogs to accidents over the years.

    Zak was the perfect dog for us. He stayed by my side, was protective and loyal, and gave me infinite and unconditional love. We may get another dog someday, but for now, he is irreplaceable. Thanks for sharing your doggy story with us:-) I’d bet your pups loved you greatly!

    1. Thanks, PJ. We’re exactly where you are re: getting another dog. We want to do some things we’d put off because of having a dog, like travel, visit family. And our previous dogs are irreplaceable. And we kind of differ on what kind of dog, should we get one. I want another mini-doxie. John wants a bigger dog.
      And should it be a puppy or older dog? Hard decisions.

      I want to apologize for the messy layout of the blog: I was fighting my computer every inch of the way, for some reason, and its bad manners won.

      thea

  2. Thea, your dog story sounds familiar. I had dogs my whole life till Tom and I married twenty years ago. We gave up our dogs. A good friend begged for my sheltie, so I gave in, and have never regretted not having a pet. We have grand-doggies. They greet us, excited to see us. They cuddle up and give us the same love our grand-kiddies give us. I think when you are raising a family, it’s good for children to care for a life, a life other than their own. Farm kids are amazing, they learn so much about life through the farm animals. Thanks for a wonderful post.

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