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Poems

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Just a Dog
By Richard Biby

(This article, reprinted with permission, appeared in the Feb 2006 of "Versatile Hunting Dog", the publication of the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association (NAVHDA).

People have said to me from time to time things like "lighten up, it’s just a dog" or "that’s a lot of money for just a dog".

They say to me they don’t understand the distance traveled, the time spent, or the costs involved for "just a dog".

Some of my proudest moments have come about with "just a dog". Many hours have passed and the only company I had was "just a dog" but I did not once feel slighted.

Some of my saddest moments have been brought about by "just a dog", and in those days of darkness, the gentle touch of "just a dog" gave me comfort and reason to overcome the day.

For those of you who do not understand the whys and wherefores of "just a dog", then you will probably understand phrases like "just a friend", "just a sunrise", or "just a promise". "Just a dog" brings into my life the very essence of friendship, trust, and pure unbridled joy.

"Just a dog" brings out in me the compassion and patience that makes me a better person. Because of "just a dog" I will rise early, take long walks and look longingly into the future.

So for me and folks like me, it’s not "just a dog" but an embodiment of all the hopes and dreams of the future, the fond memories of the past, and the pure joy of the moment. "Just a dog" brings out what’s good in me and diverts my thoughts away from myself and the worries of the day.

I hope that someday they can understand that it’s not "just a dog" but the thing that gives me humanity and keeps me from being just a man. So the next time you hear the phrase "just a dog", just smile, because they --- "just don’t understand".

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A Rescuers Creed


I shall be a believer of all that is good in man and of all that is deserving in animals. I shall plead for their lives, campaign for their safety and uphold their right to a natural death. I shall seek out the injured and the maimed, the unloved, and the abandoned and tend to them in their last days. I shall not forget their place in the hierarchy of life, nor that we walk in each other's paths. I shall bear witness to the wonder they bring into our lives and to the beauty they bestow upon our souls. I shall renew their spirits when they are waning, bind their wounds when they bleed, cradle them when they whimper, and comfort them when they mourn. I shall be near them in their hour of greatest need - a companion and friend when the time has come. I shall watch over them and console them and ask that the angels gather them in their arms. From the creatures of the earth I shall learn the fruits of compassion and undying love, and I shall be called the beloved of God. In their company I shall indeed be blessed. 
~ anonymous 

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The Rescuers Quilt


As I arrived at the Bridge, I faced all the animals that had gone there before me.

Before each of us go to the Bridge, we live our lives like the squares of a quilt, mirrored in the eyes of the animals awaiting us. An animal Angel sits before each of us sewing our quilt squares together in a tapestry that is our life. But as my animal Angel took each piece of cloth off the pile, I noticed how ragged and empty each of my squares was.

They were filled with giant holes. Each square was labeled with a part of my life as a rescuer that had been difficult, the challenges I was faced with in my quest to save lives and the times I had been tempted to take the easy way out and avoid the controversy rather than speak for the animals that could not speak for themselves.

I saw hardships that I had endured for the sake of the animals, which were the largest holes of all. I glanced around me. Nobody else had such squares. Other than a tiny hole here and there, the other tapestries were filled with rich color and the bright hues of worldly fortune. I gazed upon my own life and was disheartened. My animal Angel was sewing the ragged pieces of cloth together, threadbare and empty, like binding air.

Finally, the time came when each life was to be displayed, held up to the light, the scrutiny of truth. The others rose, each in turn, holding up their tapestries. So filled their lives had been with the riches of the Earth. My animal Angel looked upon me, and nodded for me to rise. My gaze dropped to the ground in shame. I hadn't had all the earthly fortunes. I had love in my life, and laughter and the sweet kisses of the precious animals that Honored my life with their presence. But there had also been the trials of illness, and death, and false accusations that took me from their world, as I knew it. I had to start over many times. I often struggled with the temptation to quit, only to somehow muster the strength to pick up and begin again. I spent many nights crying and praying that somehow the strength would come to go on, asking for help and guidance as I tried to help the Helpless. I had often been held up to ridicule, which I endured painfully, each time enduring it for the sake of the animals who looked at me with trust and love in their eyes.

And now, I had to face the truth. My life was what it was, and I had to accept it for what it was. I rose and slowly lifted the combined Squares of my life to the light. An awe-filled gasp filled the air. I gazed around at the animals gathered there, who stared at me with wide eyes. Then, I looked upon the tapestry before me.

Light flooded the many holes, creating an image of an animal that had depended on me. All the animals at the Bridge stood before me, with warmth and love in their eyes. They said, "Every time you gave over your life to help us, it gave us life. Each point of light in your life is when you stepped aside and let us shine through, until there was more of us than there was of you."

May all our quilts be threadbare and worn, allowing the animals to shine through.
~unknown

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Walking With an Old Dog
 
 
 
 
 
Because you will not be forever,
Hope against time though I may,
I paint your picture in my memory,
Eyes blue with age, muzzle gone gray.
 
Because you walked with me in Springtime,
Puppy-clumsy, running free.
As you grew, we grew together-
You became a part of me.
 
Because you shared with me my sorrows,
Not understanding- simply there.
Often spurring me to laughter--
My friend, you know how much I care.
 
Because the years have slowed your fleetness,
Though your spirit still is strong.
I promise I will take more time now,
So that you can go along.
 
Because you do not fear the future,
Living only in the now,
I draw strength from your example-
Yet time keeps slipping by somehow.
 
Because the day will soon be coming
When I will no longer see
You rise to greet me-but in memory
You will always walk with me.
 
- Gayl Jokiel
 
 

Dinah in Heaven
 
She did not know that she was dead,
But, when the pang was o'er,
Sat down to wait her Master's tread
Upon the Golden Floor,
With ears full-cock and anxious eye
Impatiently resigned;
But ignorant that Paradise
Did not admit her kind.
Persons with Haloes, Harps, and Wings
Assembled and reproved;
Or talked to her of Heavenly things,
But Dinah never moved.
There was one step along the Stair
That led to Heaven's Gate;
And, till she heard it, her affair
Was--she explained--to wait.
And she explained with flattened ear,
Bared lip and milky tooth--
Storming against Ithuriel's Spear
That only proved her truth!
Sudden--far down the Bridge of Ghosts
That anxious spirits clomb--
She caught that step in all the hosts,
And knew that he had come.
She left them wondering what to do,
But not a doubt had she.
Swifter than her own squeal she flew
Across the Glassy Sea;
Flushing the Cherubs every where,
And skidding as she ran,
She refuged under Peter's Chair
And waited for her man.
. . . . . . .
There spoke a Spirit out of the press,
'Said:--"Have you any here
That saved a fool from drunkenness,
And a coward from his fear?
"That turned a soul from dark to day
When other help was vain;
That snatched it from Wanhope and made
A cur a man again?"
"Enter and look," said Peter then,
And set The Gate ajar.
"If know aught of women and men
I trow she is not far."
"Neither by virtue, speech nor art
Nor hope of grace to win;
But godless innocence of heart
That never heard of sin:
"Neither by beauty nor belief
Nor white example shown.
Something a wanton--more a thief--
But--most of all--mine own."
"Enter and look," said Peter then,
"And send you well to speed;
But, for all that I know of women and men
Your riddle is hard to read."
Then flew Dinah from under the Chair,
Into his arms she flew--
And licked his face from chin to hair
And Peter passed them through!
- Rudyard Kipling
"The Woman in His Life"
From "Limits and Renewals" (1932)
 

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"And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." 2 Corinthians 9:8