Dog Blessings: Poems, Prose, and Prayers Celebrating Our Relationship with Dogs

Dog Blessings: Poems, Prose, and Prayers Celebrating Our Relationship with Dogs

by June Cotner

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Overview

This collection is a loving tribute to the kindest, most caring and devoted animals known to humankind. Selections describe the exuberance of puppies, the unconditional love of a canine best friend, the joy of a shared day at the beach, the bittersweet glance of an aging pet, and the simple pleasure of coming home each day to a wagging tail and unbridled affection. More than anything, Dog Blessings honors the profound ways that our four-legged friends touch our lives. The perfect book for any dog lover, it can be revisited and shared for years to come.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781449481834
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Publication date: 10/03/2017
Pages: 160
Sales rank: 1,106,074
Product dimensions: 3.90(w) x 5.20(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

 June Cotner---author, anthologist, and speaker---hails from Poulsbo, WA. She has appeared on national radio programs, and her books have been featured in many national publications including USA TODAY, Better Homes and Gardens, Woman's Day, and Family Circle. Collectively, her books have sold nearly one million copies.

Read an Excerpt

Dog Blessings

Poems, Prose, and Prayers Celebrating Our Relationship with Dogs


By June Cotner

New World Library

Copyright © 2008 June Cotner
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-57731-726-5



CHAPTER 1

A Dog's World


    SKIJORING WITH KANE

    The world is a large bay of wonder
    and here we are, circling the snow-covered golf course under
    the ribbon wisps of moonlight — you, mutt with glacial
    blue eyes and oil black fur, and me, a girl on skis
    skating behind you, seeing your feet kick
    through shadows of spruce
    and elm. I let go
    so that fear waddles on the outskirts
    of the golf course parking lot. I let go
    because the harnesses connecting our bodies
    are taut and stretched and we race
    the night, we speed faster than the lone car
    passing the adjacent boulevard. Kane, dog of my heart,
    if you reach heaven before I do
    don't wait for me — run to the distant cloud edges,
    let your feet rumble and shake free
    a snow storm spiraling toward earth, toward
    the winter girl watching from her window, remembering
    ice, remembering the soft, swift pads
    of one dog's feet.

    Stephanie N. Johnson


QUEEN OF CANINE CAPERS

Of mischief-making she's accused,
Our queen of canine capers.
She's masterful at chewing shoes,
And shredding Sunday papers.

Destructor of our flower beds,
Disturber of our sleep,
In spite of all her troubling ways,
Her company we keep.

She often begs to be let out
To take her doggy walks;
Yet once her leash is snapped in place,
She disobeys, and balks.

Our midnight piddler of puddles,
A pooper of the piles,
Creator of huge messes, but
Her antics bring such smiles.

Her face appears quite innocent
Each time that she's chastised;
But careful observation shows
Rebellion in her eyes.

She has a sort of impish grin,
If you can call it that,
Appearing on that face of hers
Each time she steals my hat.

Though loving and affectionate,
Her playful puppy ways
Can wreak such household havoc as
To make one feel quite crazed.

Of course we love her anyway;
There's no way one could not.
So please, dear Lord, our patience grow,
A little, no, a lot!

Susanne Wiggins Bunch


    GOOD DOG

    When I walk the dog I let the dog
    decide where we go. I keep the leash loose
    and follow in her footsteps to the busy street
    that scares us both, but it's the only way
    to the grand tree at the corner where she stands
    in a trance, her nose vacuuming the bulging roots
    for a snoot-full of who-knows-what.

    Sometimes she heads the other way, to the empty lot,
    a minefield of turds I step through gingerly
    while she throws herself on the foulest ones
    and spins like a washing machine agitator,
    then trots to the puddle by the curb and takes
    a long drink, lapping it up like champagne,
    splashing as if it were the fountain of puppyhood.

    Her shanks and feathers drenched and dripping,
    she looks at me as if I envy her
    and seems to say, Okay, I'm good and wet
    and camouflaged in the scent of excrement,
    let's go home now and I'll slip beneath your desk
    into a dream of running squirrels into trees
    and you take the heat for letting me get into
    everything.


    Eric Nelson


    OFF THE TRAIL

    The dogs are going crazy, running
    in eddies around and around
    circles getting wider

    their heads and tails bobbing
    against the sky — out of sight
    back again.

    The smaller dog's tail
    long and tipped white
    serves as a fish bobber

    to show where the line of dogs
    pays out against the currents of wheat.

    They bark and yap
    in huge bursts of sunlight,
    ground soft and green
    under their pads.

    There is something about dogs
    loose as wind that lifts the heart
    as they run, fling themselves
    over hills and hummocks,

    you forget about paths and long to follow
    off the well-trod and into the whisper
    of grasses practicing free verse.

    The dogs are frenzied with all they must fit
    into their moments, their necks free
    of leashes, their legs given to whatever strides
    they choose. They race so fast, with such

    buck and canter, that a new smell
    jerks them almost off their feet.
    They poke their noses without caution,
    drink it in as if it were brandy.

    When have we last given way to smell,
    lingered to draw it into the nose, let it run
    warm as liqueur down all the senses of the body?

    When has a smell been so grand
    we have longed to roll in it,
    as the black dog does now,
    four legs flailing at air, tongue lolling,
    head dancing side to side,

    all the full-out running and leaping
    abandoned to this?

    CB Follett


    MOTHER OF DOG

    I want to buy him
    a lunch pail
    notebook paper
    pencils, and
    some spiffy kid clothes.
    Instead I buy him a T-shirt that says
    RESPECT THE NOSE.
    I'll teach him the new math,
    the old rules for playing with others.
    He'll be the envy
    of all the mothers.
    He won't stick chewing gum under his desk.
    He won't pass notes in class.
    He might eat his homework.
    For him, life is recess.

    Kelly Cherry


    AT LIMANTOUR BEACH

    The old dog celebrates.
    Sniffs high. Races to the water
    and runs a tight circle in the shallows,
    two, three, and then another.
    She lowers her shoulder
    to an irish green swatch of sea lettuce.
    She will roll in it, if she can,
    if we let her, and wear it
    as a badge of this day.

    A day she always dreams of, by the fire,
    legs churning on the rug — a beach day.
    She can never get enough. Every beach
    is another notch in her dreamtime.

    She selects a rock, smoothed and oval,
    carries it dangling from her mouth
    like a talisman.
    It is a digging rock. She drops it.
    Chases it with her paws, poking her nose
    in to scent its trail.
    Her gray muzzle is thick with sand,
    her legs, and around her eyes.
    Her tongue is sandpaper, coarse grit.

    By the third hole, she must sink to rest
    every eight paw strokes, or so,
    haunches perched on the slag of her own mining.

    We spend the whole day at the beach,
    marking the water's edge with a long line
    of holes and heaps.
    Tonight, while she runs
    before the fire, the tide will rise
    and replace all her divots.

    CB Follett


    WHEN DOGS GO ASTRAY

    Where are you tonight? Chasing night critters
    in the woods, eating food left on a patio

    for felines on the lam, sleeping on a stranger's
    patio cushions? I find comfort only

    in knowing that you are together, my phone number
    woven into your collars. I'm puzzled. How did

    you get out of our fenced backyard? Did
    some workman checking phone or cable lines leave

    the gate ajar, just enough for you to make a break
    for it when he wasn't looking? O Bartleby!

    O Melville! Why couldn't you have been content
    to smell unfamiliar shoes, to accept a pat on the head

    or to protect our yard from an intruder? You're not
    West Highland Terriers for nothing, born to hunt,
    born to follow rabbits and rodents to their secure dens,
    oblivious to your own needs in the heat
    of the hunt. I have to believe you'll turn up
    on someone's back step, begging to come inside

    a stranger's house. Please choose a dog lover who
    won't keep you from those who wait for your call.

    Rosanne Osborne


    DOG RUNNING WITH HIS MAN

    For the sleek golden retriever, it is relief,
    this bounding along the shore with his man.
    Most of the time, it is all he can do to keep
    his nerves within his skin, being assaulted
    as he is every second of his life with
    gorgeous smells, a constant heady flooding
    from the world. It rushes at his too-keen nose:
    sea salt, dead fish, rich green weeds
    left behind by fingers of tide.
    So much! The tingling edges of pine forest,
    urines sprayed on every tree, sweet
    sting of dung, bird tracks and tracks of other dogs
    pressed lightly in wet sand, a bit of salami
    to the left, dropped from a picnic, faint wood smoke
    from a distant bonfire, and oh, the high he gets
    from a whiff of female canine musk. Impossible
    to know what to do with such happiness,
    what he perpetually wants but can barely bear.
    How it propels his fast, muscled flanks,
    makes his ribs heave, his tongue pant.
    At the end of the run, the man bends down,
    offers a good boy, pats the young dog, his simple
    loyal companion, never knowing
    all that he carries, all that he craves.

    Joanne Esser


    DAISY

    She has not
    turned Lassie / Rin Tin Tin
    to save us from
    certain death.
    She's never been featured
    on Animal Miracles
    or the evening news
    for rescuing a child from a fire,
    preventing a car crash, or
    running impossible miles
    to tell some former owner
    that he is in trouble
    or to ask why he abandoned her.
    She has never
    collared a criminal,
    although she's spent time in a cell
    for the sin of being homeless —
    a menace to the public,
    running at large,
    begging and unruly,
    matted hair dragging from her back legs,
    beard as wild as an Old Testament prophet's.
    Sentenced to death at the county shelter,
    she was reborn, got a second chance
    to visit wild places
    and roll in piles of leaves,
    discover new scents on wooded hikes,
    and occasionally get into the trash
    because everybody's entitled
    to a little backsliding
    now and then.

    Karen R. Porter


WHAT? YOUR DOG DOESN'T TALK?


Mine does. Mine talks a blue streak.
Has a full English vocabulary, colloquial and formal,
uses simple and complex sentences,
and muscular prose,
accompanied by a full range of gestures, tricks, and expressions.
Grammatically iffy sometimes, but always deeply felt.
A fine sprinkling of Italian and Yiddish, too.
Here is a sampling:

• Welcome to our house. I'm Miss Molly. See. It says so on my chair.

• Mom, can you believe it? This guy won't get out of the car. He thinks I look fierce. Ha. Ha. Ha.

• I prefer THIS chaise lounge (chair, rug, hole) right now, and if I turn around three times first, it'll be even more perfect. Ain't life grand?

• I'm really, REALLY sorry, Mom. I didn't feel well.

• Move over, would you? And by the way, I was here first.

• I'll come when you show me the goods.

• Okay then, if I lie down and put my face on the floor between my paws, will you PLEASE give me some?

• Are you upset, Mom? Here. Let me love you ... put my head on your thigh ... lick your face ... rub your nose ... put my paws around your neck ... make you laugh with a genius antic. Or we can just sit here, if you want.

G'valt! What's THAT? It moves. It's WAY too big to be a dog. A horse, you say? Well, I don't care what it's called, I'm staying away from it.

• Are you talking AGAIN about what a great dog I am? Talk on, and I'll listen and thump.

• Ummmm. Get a load of these lilacs ... carrion ... goose (horse, dog, rabbit) poop ... new mown grass ... fish ... birds ...air ... the weird smell in the hallway. Life is delicious, and smells SOOOOOO great.

• Okay. If I can't come, I'll just wait here until you get home.

• Oooooh! I just LOVE it when you brush me ... tickle my ears ... rub my belly ... my hind quarters ... that place on my back ... no, not there! THERE!

• Ahhhhhhh! This is the life.

Fran Dorf


    SWEETER THAN HONEY

    Our dog has developed an addiction
    to paper. It started innocently enough with
    the dirty tissue a woman walking just ahead of us
    accidentally dropped in his path one day.
    Much to his delight. Not long after this,
    he discovered dinner napkins, toilet paper rolls,
    and book jackets. Most recently, I caught him
    nosing around in our green clay pitcher that
    used to contain all one hundred and fifty psalms,
    typed up and individually folded like so many
    fortunes, waiting to be read. One by one
    he is making his way through the songs of thanksgiving,
    prayers of lament and hymns of coronation.
    Always careful to leave enough time
    for three daily naps, a chew on his bone,
    and the occasional bark at our neighbor's daring cat.
    How sweet are your words to my taste, O God, sweeter
    than honey to my mouth.
To which I say: A-hem.

    Lisa Dordal


    OUTSIDE, WANTING IN

    His paw a blur of motion
    scratching on the screen.
    Outside, wanting in.
    Door opened, he bounds
    across the room, tail beating greetings,
    nuzzling us, tongue dangling,
    circles twice, thuds to the floor
    at our feet, sighs, relaxes content.

    Until ...
    a vagrant squirrel hurls insults from the oak
    or a supercilious cat twitches right across
    the lawn that belongs to him,
    or a mysterious shadow slants
    across the porch perhaps signaling danger.
    At once he's up again, barking,
    crashing pell-mell to the door, pawing,
    glancing imploringly over his shoulder.
    Inside, wanting out.

    SuzAnne C. Cole


    THE SCIENCE OF FAITH

    Every day except Sunday for five years
    Sal tossed my dog a treat as he delivered our mail.
    Then he was promoted to a desk job.

    It's been months since Sal delivered
    but when the dog hears the little white truck
    coming up the rise, she still runs to the mailbox.

    There she waits as the truck drives to the end
    of the road and turns around, the white tip
    of her tail whipping the air faster and faster

    as it comes back her way, her whole body
    wiggling with joy when the mailman stops,
    sticks a handful of mail in the box, then

    nothing.
    The tail slows to a sway,
    slows even more as the truck pulls away.

    There she stands
    head turned to the empty road
    tail still as the pendulum of an unwound clock.

    My husband calls it operant conditioning.
    I say it's the science of faith,
    hope stirred by memory and desire.

    Patti Tana


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Dog Blessings by June Cotner. Copyright © 2008 June Cotner. Excerpted by permission of New World Library.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

A Letter to Readers,
Thanks,
1. A Dog's Word,
2. Puppies,
3. Our Bond,
4. Devotion,
5. Aging Gracefully,
6. Partings,
7. Reflections,
8. Prayers, Blessings, and Inspiration,
Sources and Permission Acknowledgments,
Author Index,
About June Cotner,

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