A “running dog” can be construed
As epithetical and rude
By those who’ve studied Poly Sci
Or Rhetoric; please know that I
Am being literal, in fact.
No hidden codes here need be cracked.
Nor am I referring to
The fun-size sort of pet that you
Might carry in a fanny pack
Or by a handle on its back
But rather one who’d rather run
Beside you, and who finds it fun.
Explicitly, I mean a dog
Who finds more pleasure in a jog
To anywhere and back again
Than chowing down or sleeping in.
Through evening gloom or morning dew,
A running dog just runs with you.
That’s what I mean by the phrase.
I miss my running dog, these days.
They’re boarding up the cathouse on our street.
These sixteen years the institution’s thrived,
Enshrouded now in fog borne on the feet
Of she from whom the nickname was derived.
A passerby no whisker would have turned;
It looked to be an ordinary house
And just by happenstance might one have learned
That here lived one who’d terrify a mouse.
Not that a rat had anything to fear
From she who reigned within, but reputation
Counts for much, as Puss-in-Boots made clear,
And rare were they who’d risk Julification.
She sleeps tonight upon the very spot
Where calicos all go, before they’re not.
They’re smacking tennis balls with sticks
Down under. What am I do?
A year past learning old-dog tricks,
You’ve left me, and I’m Melbourne blue.
In days gone by the court shone green
In January’s summer sun;
This year, the only green I’ve seen
Is on the tree that’s just begun
To bud above your resting place.
Though winter’s chill hangs sharp and wet,
Its hopeful sprigs recall your face
Reminding me we’ve not walked yet.
I draw the blanket close and sigh
The way you sometimes used to do
To make me turn and catch your eye.
It’s winter, and I’m Melbourne blue.
It seems I mostly note my lack
Of dog when I prepare a snack.
Syd had a most exquisite sense
Of how to beg without offense:
She wouldn’t whine or make a fuss,
She’d simply sit, like, Look at us,
Two friends together. One has food?
Well, how ’bout that? Her attitude
Was something on the order of,
You eat. I’m happy just to love!
Departed Sydney, Canine Martyr,
Still fulfills her wistful charter,
Which explains what I just did:
I cut the cheese, and thought of Syd.
You thump your tail as I walk in;
It’s nice to see you, too, my friend.
So glad to have you back again!
…at least until I wake.
When Sydney was small
My size 12 running shoe
Was a thing she could sleep in
And–once or twice–chew.
When Sydney was young
I’d slip on my size 12s
And together we’d ramble
For miles by ourselves.
When Sydney was older
My running shoes walked
At her side or behind her;
She sniffed and I talked.
When Sydney was fading
I’d slip off my shoes
At the end of a run
And she’d sniff them for news.
Since Sydney departed
That cold winter morn,
Their laces have frayed and
The heels have grown worn
But those 12s are the shoes
I still wear when I jog.
There’s a hole in my sole
And it’s thanks to my dog.