Charlemagne Tiberius (Charlie)
Today my old friend Charlie died. I cradled his soft, silky head while the vet gently ended his pain. I was not prepared to hear that nothing could save him. I was not ready to hear that the choice had to be made now. I was not ready to hear that he was suffering. I was not - and am not ready to let him go. I was not ready, because in the past two years, my old friend had regained his vigor, slimmed down and romped and played like a puppy with Sniffers. I thought we had a long time to go. We planned on taking old Charlie on vacation with us this summer...Vermont in the cool spring would have been such a treat for him. Nearly 14, Charlie was my loving gentle friend who would sit with me when I was sad and loved to have his belly rubbed. He asked for nothing, he never complained - even on his last night when a bark or whine would have alerted us that he was in trouble in time for the vet to help him.
It is so easy sometimes to treat our canine friends as a burden when we are tired or busy and they have needs. Tonight I would gladly get up and let him out at 2 a.m., or wake up to the sound of his snoring. I'd welcome dog hair in the car if I could take him through the drive-through for one more burger.
I send this to you to ask you to make some special time out today for your canine friend, in memory of my beloved Charlie.
The Best Place to Bury a Dog
I am thinking now of Charlie,
whose coat was silk and warmth in the cold and who,
so far as we are aware, never entertained a mean or unworthy thought.
My friend is buried beneath an oak, near his mother,
in clay and earth surrounded by water,
and at its proper seasons the oak will
strew bright leaves on the shady lawn of his grave.
Beneath a shady oak tree, or an apple,
or any flowering shrub of the garden,
is an excellent place to bury a dog.
Beneath such trees, such shrubs,
he slept in the drowsy summer,
or gnawed at a flavored bone,
or lifted his head to challenge some strange intruder.
These are good places, in life or in death.
Yet it is a small matter,
and it touches sentiment
more than anything else.
For if the dog be well remembered,
if sometimes he leaps through
your dreams actual as in life,
eyes kindling, questing, loving,
asking, laughing, begging,
it matters not at all where that
dog sleeps and at last.
On a hill where the wind is unrebuked,
and the trees are roaring,
or beside a stream he knew in puppyhood,
or somewhere in the flatness of a pasture land,
where most exhilarating cattle graze.
It is all one to the dog, and all one to you,
and nothing is gained, and nothing is lost - if memory lives.
But there is one best place to bury a dog.
One place that is best of all.
There is one best place to bury a dog.
If you bury him in this spot, he will
come to you when you call -
come to you over the grim, dim frontier
of death, and down the well-remembered
path, and to your side again.
And though you call a dozen living
dogs to heel, they shall not growl at
him, nor resent his coming, for he belongs there.
People may scoff at you, who see
no lightest blade of grass bent by his
footfall, who hear no whimper, people
who may never really have had a dog.
Smile at them, for you shall know
something that is hidden from them,
and which is well worth the knowing.
" The one best place to bury a good dog is in the heart of his master."
Adapted for Charlie 1991 - 2005
from a poem by Ben Hur Lampman
from the Portland Oregonian Sept. 11, 1925
Back to the DogStars