I was wandering the virtual stacks this morning and visited an old friend, Nan, over at Letters from a Hill Farm. She loves reading and the books she holds and often posts her lists and honest reviews. One post happened to be about the country road that passes by her house and the adventures of her dog Sadie. She included a brief poem by Mary Oliver, from her book Dog Songs:

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If You Are Holding
This Book

You may not agree, you may not care, but
if you are holding this book you should know
that of all the sights I love in this world –
and there are plenty – very near the top of
the list is this one: dogs without leashes.

flower dingbat

The poem brought back memories of Old Pepper, who I miss terribly.We would often go for walks and I would have no hesitation to unclip the leash and let her explore beach dunes and park weeds on her own. Her pace was a bit faster than mine but she would always stop to look back as if to make sure I was safe. I never worried about her if only because she always seem to worry so about me. Even though she started off younger, we caught up in age and eventually she passed me by, the stiff joints slowing her down, her explorations limited to the edges of our curb and a familiar pine in our back yard.

But no matter how old, she always watched me, always guarding me, following me from room to room to the point where I would sit longer than I wanted to if only to spare her the discomfort of having to stand yet again on those shaky bones.

There was a time when we had three dogs in our house all with their own unique character and personality. But Pepper belonged only to a pack of two. Something I graciously accepted, respected, and sometimes selfishly looked forward to.

I’ve often said you can’t replace a dog but you can add to your pack. We were just a pack of two. That doesn’t ever change.

pepper_2 old pepper in shadow and light
©Jeff Kopito