Lord of all creatures,
If ever was a dog grown up
In perpetual puppyhood,
It was our Max.
Ever-ready to pounce and play,
Grey-faced, front paws outstretched,
Chasing me around the kitchen
In her silly canine game until,
Overstimulated, crazy barking,
Spinning like a dervish…
I swear, you could hear her laughing.
She was a giant pup.
Perhaps it was your seemingly
Reckless divine humor
That made you equip her
Her Labrador frame and feet, set
Clumsily in her sleek Greyhound form,
Begged for bigger, floppier ears
To frame her long narrow face.
And no context could normalize
The funny sideways curl of her tail.
But, these inelegancies she wore
With quiet grace; embodying
Her size with conscious gentleness,
She lived her life as if to demonstrate
The words of the Savior when he said,
“Blessed are the meek.”
In my fantastic hubris, I have sometimes wondered
What it is to be worshiped and adored.
In this, Max was my teacher.
For, I awoke each morning
To the expression of one enamored,
Her glossy bronze eyes gazing at me
As I descended the steps
In anticipation of a tender word,
A loving pat, a scratch behind the ear—
And the eternally springing hope that
The day might include her very favorite:
A ride through the country in the truck,
Gazing at the clouds as the breeze carried
Its myriad smells of fields and farms.
Looking back I realize
It turned out I make an unworthy god.
She asked for little and, frequently,
Though we truly loved her, received it.
I knew her time was not long
When her ribs began to show so suddenly.
I wondered if she knew it, too,
When a body that once was nigh uncatchable
Could hardly walk past the driveway,
And stumbled on the stairs.
I wondered if she knew it better than I,
And what she felt when I lost my patience,
“Come on, Max!” Because I’d forgotten…
“Take care, Max.” I should have said,
Remembering the way she always looked at me
When I came into the room
Remembering how few friends had given
So much of themselves
And expected so little in return.
Lord of all creatures,
Receive our dear Max. Let her run free in green fields.
Give her soft meadows of flowers to rest in.
Provide your cold streams to drink and splash in.
Give her scores of turtles to catch and kitties to befriend.
Lord, of all creatures, let her inherit the earth.
And, someday, if you find us worthy,
Let us watch her bounding across the hills,
And hear her booming playful “awoof!” again.