When it comes to dog death poems, The Rainbow Bridge is by far the most well known. The author is, as far as I can tell, anonymous. To me it’s not so much a poem as a quick parable intended to give aid and comfort to those grieving the loss of their pet. A lot of people respond well to it and it gets mentioned a lot on many pet-oriented web sites.
I think The Rainbow Bridge conveys a nice sentiment, though it’s not really my cup of tea. Then again, I’m not much for sentimental symbolism.
I’ll be honest here, usually the closest I come to poetry is the occasional encounter with a naughty limerick. So if it doesn’t start out with “There was a young girl from Nantucket,” it’s probably not for me.
There is the rare moment, however, when I am moved to enter a few lines of verse.
I wrote some poetry when wooing The Missus, and 26 years later it still evokes in her the same eye-rolls and head-shakes. I take that as a sign to stick with prose.
But when my dog, Larry, died. I actually wrote a poem that was very personal and special to me, and it helped me start the grieving process. Mostly it did this by releasing the floodgates so I could have a good cry.
And if you think men don’t cry, you’ve obviously never been to a party when a keg blew, or seen a man eat a tortilla chip with Sudden Death Hot Sauce on it.
So are dog death poems a thing, like skinny jeans and man buns?
Yes they are. Use them if they help you. The poems. Not the skinny jeans and man buns (which are so, so wrong).
In my case, I can’t just sit around and stew in my emotions. And as an artist, I tend to be happiest when I’m making something, and doing so helps me process grief, sadness, or any other inconvenient emotion I might be feeling.
Creating also takes my mind off my problems and focuses it on the task at hand. In this way doing art gives any rogue emotions a rest, allowing my mind to re-set itself as much as possible (at least to the extent that I actually have a mind – the jury is out).
My Truly Awful Poem
As dog death poems go, mine is not very good. But it does have the benefit of being a genuine, heartfelt expression of loss. So in that sense, and that sense only, it’s actually very good. It was never meant for public viewing. It was a personal expression and meant to stay private.
I only share it now to highlight the fact that you don’t have to be a good poet to mourn the loss of your pet through personal poetry. Reading it again after all these years still brings a tear to my eye, though I’m not sure if that’s out of sentiment or astonishment at how truly bad it is.
Here it is in all its glory…
Larry (April 1, 1993 – September 15, 2006).
Smell the pine trees,
Smell the water,
Smell my soft bed,
The good life is revealed in every bowl.
Catch the ball,
Chew the toy,
Chase the stick,
Shout at the crows croaking overhead, and the deer who are faster than I.
Run and Play,
Bark and Growl,
Roll and Scratch,
Pick the carrots fresh from the garden
(and tomatoes too, when Master looks away).
Hear their voices,
Feel their caress.
They rub the spot behind my ears,
And my gratitude is shown in every lick.
For in this life of thirteen years I have learned…
There is no perfect ball,
There is no perfect stick,
There is no perfect Master,
But the ones I had were all good enough for me.
And I am content,
As I lay down to sleep,
to chase the rabbits in my dreams,
for the last time.
Whew! Take a few moments to let it wash over you, like great art, or a bad smell. Yes, that was bad. Yes, I’m kind of embarrassed to put it out there. No, I will not be submitting it to any Bad Poetry Contests, though it’s a sure winner.
Instead, I offer it as the yardstick by which you can measure your efforts, should you choose. Use it as a means of innoculation when being overly critical of your efforts. Remember, your dog death poems may be bad, but they will never be “Larry (April 1, 1993 – September 15, 2006)” bad.
Do Dog Death Poems Help?
I’m not a doctor, nor am I a psychologist, so I can speak only for myself. That said, I know for me the act of creating is almost always therapeutic, whether it’s a bad poem, a painting, or drawing. And the fact that I’m fairly average in most every respect inclines me to believe that you, too, would benefit from doing something creative to move you through the grieving process.
Whatever it is you do, no matter which creative activity you choose, I suggest the only requirement is that you be honest with yourself about your feelings of loss and sadness. The whole point of the exercise is to metaphorically locate and reveal your inner sadness and let it out into the light of day.
That sounds kind of touchy-feely, doesn’t it? Sorry about that. It’s hard to talk about these things without resorting to the language of sensitivity training, and I hate sensitivity training in all its manifestations. Corporate Sensitivity Trainers are one reason why I run a home-based business… the other being I occasionally don’t wear pants.
So I guess this is my long way of saying that, yes, dog death poems can help you. But be open to alternatives, because there may be other creative outlets that are more your style.
Finally, don’t worry if your efforts aren’t masterpieces. Unlike me, you will likely never be dumb enough to publish it on the internet for all the world to laugh. So no one need know but you.
A Shameless Plug
I hope you found my thoughts on dog death poems helpful. Or at least interesting. But you know I wasn’t going to bare my soul and reveal my terrible poetry without at least mentioning that a portrait is a good way to keep memories alive when your beloved pet is gone. I love seeing my old friends on my wall. And not a day goes by that I don’t recall a special memory from way back when.
“Love Your Pet Forever” is not a slogan. Well, it is, actually. But it’s also a truthful expression of my belief in the power of art to keep love and memories fresh.