She found us as “Colleen”
And left us as “Katchoo”
From paw to head
The best dog that I ever knew
She “blessed” us with her presence
That’s what a stranger had said
Late one night
When she gave me a fright
As I walked with Katchoo just ahead
In our still up-and-coming ‘hood
It was not unusual to find
The world’s oldest profession
Done with little discretion
A reality we just didn’t mind
“What’s your dog’s name,” she had asked me
On a break from plying her wares
“Katchoo,” I replied
Her eyes doubled in size
“That’s an angel you got right there.”
I rolled my eyes in response
And with a brazen tug at the collar
Began to turn
And clearly spurn
Further talk from this ersatz “road scholar”
I heard her call from behind us,
“What you say to someone when they sneeze?”
“Bless you,” I yelled
And that’s when it gelled
What I missed she had seen with such ease
I turned back to apologize
To thank her for seeing this light
But she was not to be found
Not a sight, not a sound
She was gone, whisked away by the night.
I looked down at my faithful companion
Who was busy sniffing the grass
It explained a lot
Even now when she is not
Bodies fail, but souls, they last.
Note: Our dog, Katchoo, passed away on December 30. We were worried how Nick would take it, but at 2 he is too young to really understand, other than “Katchoo went to dog heaven,” which seems to be all the explanation he needs.
There are some beautiful books to explain the death of a pet. For his age, our favorite was:
by Cynthia Rylant
Religious, but no overly so, and simple enough for a 2-year-old to understand.
The Old Dog
by Charlotte Zoloto, illustrated by James Ransome
It features an African-American boy mourning the loss of an older dog.
Other books to consider:
The Tenth Good Thing About Barney
by Judith Viorst, illustrated by Erik Blegvad
A boy relfects on the things he loved about his cat, Barney.
The Forever Dog
by Bill Cochran, illustrated by Dan Andreasen
Even though his dog is gone, a young boy learns that his dog Corky will live in his heart forever.
Saying Goodbye to Lulu
by Corinne Demas, illustrated by Ard Hoyt
A young girl cares for an older dog, Lulu, until her death.
And for adults:
The Art of Racing in the Rain
by Garth Stein
Humorous, heartfelt and highly-recommended