Even though New York is a densely populated city, with most people enduring fairly tight housing quarters (at least by the standards of the rest of America), we love our dogs and make plenty of room for them in our homes and our hearts. My morning walk to the office, down the Fifth Avenue side of Central Park, is a veritable feast of happy dog walkers. (Just see the slideshow below!) My neighborhood, the Upper East Side, is chalk full of “professional” dog walkers and it seems that a Veterinarian office (or doggie daycare center!) is situated every few blocks. There is nothing we won’t do to keep our pups happy and healthy. And, while everyone loves his or her dog, I sometimes think that with the proliferation of individuals living alone in New York, animal companions take on an even greater significance. And when the pet passes—as it did for a friend recently—the depth of sadness is profound.
I am proud that the Celebrant community takes seriously the emotional impact of losing a beloved pet, by offering pet memorial services. In fact, my colleague Dorry Bless, based in the outskirts of Philadelphia, has used her creativity as a Celebrant and superb writing skills to develop a lasting memory of family pets—“Tribute Tails.” These loving essays recount the personal experiences of individuals and families as they have cared for and grown to love animals over the years. Among the tools used by Dorry and others is ceremonies to remember animals are new books, written with our companions in mind. One such is example is Dog Blessings by June Cotner, from which this poem is drawn.
Best Friends, by C. David Hay
I had a dog and he had me,
We were the best of company.
He was my shadow, loyal and true,
Where I went he followed too.
I was the master – always there
Who gave him kind and loving care.
He was the friend I treasured so —
When I was down he seemed to know.
But he grew old before my time,
Lagging now in step and climb.
I slowed my pace to match his gait
But I often had to stop and wait.
If he could, he’d follow still
He broke my heart—as old dogs will.
I miss the eyes that shone to say
He’d love me till his dying day.
I oft forget and reach to touch
The old gray head I missed so much;
Wishing for the time–
When he had me and I had him.