Golden Retrievals: Dog hospice and a poem by Mark Doty

Master Bedroom by Andrew Wyeth

Thursday morning I learned that our old yellow lab mix Ophelia is sick and that any day now we will have to make the hard decision to put her down. Our kindhearted vet sent us home with instructions: we should cook Feefee steak and love on her as much as possible.

I'm grateful to my friends who have offered love and advice, and who have indulged my many Facebook updates on Ophelia's well being, including pictures of her Dog Hospice diet--so far, hamburger, Philly cheese steak, and Feef's all time favorite:

Here's the look on Feef's face when I said the magic word: Pizza.

And here's a poem spoken by a golden retriever--a device that could have been corny but that, in the hands of poet Mark Doty, cuts at the heart at what dogs bring to our lives:

Golden Retrievals

Fetch? Balls and sticks capture my attention
seconds at a time. Catch?  I don't think so.
Bunny, tumbling leaf, a squirrel who's--oh
joy--actually scared.  Sniff the wind, then

I'm off again: muck, pond, ditch, residue
of any thrillingly dead thing.  And you?
Either you're sunk in the past, half our walk,
thinking of what you never can bring back,

or else you're off in some fog concerning
--tomorrow, is that what you call it?  My work:
to unsnare time's warp (and woof!), retrieving,
my haze-headed friend, you.  This shining bark,

a Zen master's bronzy gong, calls you here,
entirely, now: bow-wow, bow-wow, bow-wow.

Feefee and I might not have that thing humans think of as tomorrow, but we've got now.  So what's for breakfast?  I'm thinking scrambled eggs.


  1. Thank you for sharing your poem. After the dog hospice to my Pancho, I feel so sad and I know he crossed the Rainbow Bridge already. Thank you for sharing this.

  2. You're welcome, Gine! I'm sorry to hear about your dog. It's so hard to lose a beloved friend.

    1. Thank you for your understanding.


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