(at Paws Place Dog Rescue)

Leash in my hand
jingle of the chain
Dozen pairs of perked ears

Some brown, some hound,
some old and dented,
young and honed
to the jingle of the chain.

Let it be me, they bark
And if only I could

Instead, I wave and say
Walker, you ready for a walk, boy?

Gentlemanly nod
white face, so sweet:
vanilla ice cream, carrot topped,
with a humble smile.

Walker 1

 

 

 

His orange head won’t fit
through the choker. I struggle
while he waits so patiently.

I bend chewed ears,
past his bum eye
and around that nose of gold:

Retired infiltrator,
sniffer of fox dens
and raccoon hidey-holes.

Choker on at last, he stands
Mountain of granite
no one could hope to move.

He stares past time, over space
and trees, beyond the kennel’s cacophony

at his family
their arms warm and firm
one last time
before they turn away.

I call his name
Walker, you ready for a walk, boy?

And he looks at me
like I’m his family,
his orange fur as soft
as the sky at dawn
when he was young.

We hug the edge
around the fence-fighting kennel chorus
where wilderness, snakes, and geckos creep in.

Doggie calls fade
past the gate
absorbed by the dense
trees and foliage. Walker’s
pace slows. His nose
grows, as if stirred
from a restless slumber.

Retired infiltrator,
on the job and feeling groovy.
His nose sifts through browned
leaves like a surgeon at the table.

A gecko flees, and Walker barks
from the deep
from the grave
and from his sleep. The sound
is round and glorious.

Beyond the white picket fence
lies a pond where water rests
gently in the breeze. Walker slows
to breathe in the scene.

Light bounces
off the pond, and catches
Walker’s good brown eye.

His silvered muzzle dips,
a bow to the cool breeze
that wraps warm light
in a refreshing bath:

Beneath a waterfall
with lots of holes nearby
in damp rocks and earth
to be sniffed and explored.

Minutes pass
He’s granite again.
I wait
then kneel beside him,
and whisper his name.

Walker, you ready for a walk, boy?

10 minutes later the sunny,
cool pull of the pond
inspires Walker to move again.

I let him lead
through the mud,
flooded grass, and the puddles,
where he sniffs out a hole in the fence.

Hidden from my eyes
but not from his nose of gold,
which he sticks through the fence
looking for fox dens
or raccoons in their hidey-holes.

Walker fence

 

 

 

Moving on, by the barn,
where they store all the dog food:
a favorite stop. But wait!
A strong scent! A cat
beneath the porch
and that bark
from distant ages. Walker’s
years and strength, hopes and dreams
sound through that one single bark.

Cat is gone
if there was one.
Cat mirages happen often out here.

He pulls back toward the first hole,
or it pulls on him.
On the way he discovers
a second hole,

where another, less talented dog
dug rather sloppily beneath the fence.

Walker buries his nose,
grumbles and blows
his finely tuned instrument,
rearranging the hole
with artistic sentiment.

He stands and shakes
off the dirt, licks his chops,
and resumes his course to the first hole.

But he discovers a third,
and back and forth we go
comparing texture and density,
color and consistency,
performing multiple experiments
involving taste and scent.

Until it all becomes too much,
and Walker succumbs to
some mystery smell on the grass.

He rolls for the rescue that gives him a home,
kicks his paws up for Paws Place
and its daily gifts of love.

The grass has his back,
and he trusts its embrace.
He rolls on Mother Earth like a puppy’s
first meal, blind to all
but the scent of sensation.

Legs up, paws bent
White belly in the sun.

Walker surrenders
to the moment:
a peace of mind
we find when we live on hope.

He spins
and he flips
and he twists like a top.
I’m dizzy just watching,
and he doesn’t want to stop.

Around he goes. I’m laughing
and can’t breathe. Where he stops
So I cheer his name.

Walker roll 2

 

 

 

Walker, I thank you for the walk, boy.

To share a precious hour with you,
to see the world through your nose,
so gold and so silvered. To feel your heart
ache, and the love on your
brave orange shoulders…

is to see the faith inside of me,
where my heart lies
and your bark sounds…

that someone will see you
as the heart they’ve been searching for.
And they take you home
beneath the waterfall:
where mirages are for real,
where the land is diggable,
and where your new family hugs you
and never lets you go.

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