Treat me kindly, my beloved master, for no heart in all the world is more grateful for kindness than the loving heart of me.
Do not break my spirit with a stick, for though I should lick your hand between the blows, your patience and understanding will more quickly teach me the things you would have me do.
Speak to me often, for your voice is the world’s sweetest music, as you must know by the fierce wagging of my tail when your footstep falls upon my waiting ear.
When it is cold and wet, please take me inside… for I am now a domesticated animal, no longer used to bitter elements… and I ask no greater glory than the privilege of sitting at your feet beside the hearth… though had you no home, I would rather follow you through ice and snow than rest upon the softest pillow in the warmest home in all the land… for you are my god… and I am your devoted worshiper.
Keep my pan filled with fresh water, for although I should not reproach you were it dry, I cannot tell you when I suffer thirst. Feed me clean food, that I may stay well, to romp and play and do your bidding, to walk by your side, and stand ready, willing and able to protect you with my life, should your life be in danger.
And, beloved master, should the Great Master see fit to deprive me of my health or sight, do not turn me away from you. Rather hold me gently in your arms as skilled hands grant me the merciful boon of eternal rest…and I will leave you knowing with the last breath I drew, my fate was ever safest in your hands.
–Beth Norman Harris
The day we put our friend to sleep, I fretted through the night,
and eyed the rug where he had lain and wondered-were we right?
Then in the early morning hours there came the strangest dream,
that put me by a garden gate, a meadow, and a stream.
The birds flew in a brilliant sky, and darkness never came,
and every sparrow had a nest, and every hawk was tame.
No need of talons here, or teeth-no cages here, or pen-
for every cave and burrow had a happy denizen.
How wonderful to find the pets that I had ever known-
the ones I had when I was small, and ones when I was grown.
They told me they’d been waiting here especially for me,
where no one is a master or a slave-but all are free.
So all around the meadow’s edge we walked-my pets and I;
and talked about the good times past, before I said goodbye.
I somehow understood their words-with joy I told them so,
but each one reassured me that, “You always did, you know.”
We walked through perfect gardens, and then back along the stream;
they followed my returning to the gate before the dream.
I put my hand upon the latch, and felt a windy mist-
I hugged and patted every one, and every one I kissed.
Now such a peace came over me that there was such a land,
I’d hoped and trusted it would be within God’s loving hand.
“Now don’t forget to come again” they said, and crowded near,
“You’re welcome any time at all-the meadow’s always here.”
I told them I would try again to dream the garden gate,
the meadow and the stream, and all-some night to recreate.
But if someday I didn’t come, they shouldn’t mourn or cry,
for I might be in Heaven then, and past their brilliant sky.
They looked at one another then, and then they looked at me.
“Why, THIS is Heaven, dearest friend, and where you hope to be.
Did you think that The Creator would forget his steward true?
Where once you chose each one of us, He lets us now choose YOU.”
And then the mist closed over them and I was swept away,
back to my home, my room, my bed, and to another day.
No more will I be grieving, for it’s just a little wait,
’till I can reach the meadow that’s beyond the garden gate.
In loving memory of Gus and all pets we have lost.
October 1998 Amy Kenneley