My dog's school of yoga

Scour the bathroom, the kitchen,
spray tiles with a film of diluted bleach,
wipe them with a rag once used to towel
off my diabetic dachshund, who now sniffs
leaves in the yard, eyes milky, a canine Tiresius.

On hands and knees, I scrub the floor,
try to erase stains I had once taken
for prefab designs on ceramic,
working to end this cleansing,
to conquer the scullery, at least for today.

In the laundry room I strip off sweaty
jeans and T-shirt, slink naked and shy
through the empty house to the shower,
a rinse and fresh clothes before grounding
my feet on the mat, folding into child’s pose.

Push up to hands and knees, curl onto the balls
of my feet, press with palms, sitting bones
pointed at the ceiling, shoulders broad
in Adho Muhka Svanasana, Downward Facing Dog.
Deep breaths of relief. Later in the yard

the dachshund tilts his furry hind parts
toward the sky, widens his ribs toward the earth,
sneezes twice, zigzags around a tree stump.
Even without his sight, he knows where home
is, does not hope to see past this moment.

***

I wrote this poem about two months ago. Even then I knew my dog was very sick, but I thought we might still have another few years with him. But the little guy died on Sunday afternoon. My son Freeboarder said, “he did everything in his life he was meant to do.”

26 thoughts on “My dog's school of yoga

  1. carolee says:

    so sorry, christine.

    someone said, “dogs are my favorite people.” and it’s true, and this is very difficult.

    and its measure of difficulty is an indication of how much love your dog gave you all.

    hugs!

    Like

  2. joy says:

    awww, I miss him right along with you.

    rescued a pup the other night but no dogs allowed in my building. I was on the elevated train & the dog found me there. Such sad dilemmas everywhere.

    Like

  3. Michelle says:

    the dachshund tilts his furry hind parts
    toward the sky, widens his ribs toward the earth,
    sneezes twice, zigzags around a tree stump.
    Even without his sight, he knows where home
    is, does not hope to see past this moment.

    Beautiful, Christine. I can hear him sneezing and feel his soft little nose … and what a lucky little guy to have been part of a family that so loved him, and lucky you for having him to love.

    “The dog is a gentleman; I hope to go to his heaven, not man’s.”
    – Mark Twain

    Like

  4. Holly D says:

    Very touching poem…I am so sorry for your loss.
    I don’t know what I’ll do when my dog goes.
    Poets can certainly learn something from dogs, being in the moment, soaking up the sun.

    Like

  5. paisley says:

    oh christine… nothing hurts quite so much as losing a defenseless darling canine baby… i have one that is really failing of late,, and i fear losing her every moment we have together… i just got a new puppy,, but i feel like she knows i have to fill the space she will leave in my heart when she leaves me… it is making me cry thinking about it…… because i know i am too……

    Like

  6. Jo says:

    Oh, C, I only just saw this. I love it and I love the last line. He’s so gorgeous. For some reason I thought he was a long-haired one…..such a handsome little guy. Big hugs, x

    Like

  7. christine says:

    Gwendolyn, I’m sure they’ll say that about you. You strike me as someone who lives a very full, creative life.

    Thanks, Dick, and Jo. He was quite handsome in his youth, I must say! And his head stayed beautiful, especially his silky ears.

    Like

  8. ybonesy says:

    I really love this poem, Christine, one of my favorites that you’ve written. It has such a serenity to it, and the connection between you and yoga and the dog doing yoga and the inspiration that dogs have given yoga…well, it’s just got a wonderful feel.

    But then I read that your dog died on Sunday, and well, I’m so sorry. Freeboarder summed up one of the best things that can be said about a living thing.

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  9. Pingback: Via Negativa
  10. christine says:

    yb, thanks for reading the poem! sometimes when I put in a post script people don’t read the poem. I sort of like this one too, especially the tie-in between Tiresius and my dog, and animals in general,the way they are different than humans in their perception of time.

    Thanks, Dave. I know how you love animals, so your kind words mean a lot.

    Like

  11. suburbanlife says:

    I love the simple domestic beginning of this. and of how intertwined your activity is with the dog’s – you doing the downward dog and so he does also. The end of a loved pet’s life truly interrupts our synchronous co-existence, so it seems especially important to be aware of their doings and constant presence.
    He was a lovely sleek fellow – looks so content to be basking in the sun. Lovely poem! G

    Like

  12. odessa says:

    i am so sorry for your loss Christine. i wasn’t a dog person before until a certain dog came along. they are just so unconditionally loving, so wise in their quiet ways. i love the poem too, one of my favorites of yours. i just got back from a yoga class myself and could really relate to the feeling of “letting go” that you experience from the practice.

    Like

  13. Lirone says:

    Sad story… yet it sounds like what he taught you will always be there every time you stretch into downward dog. Struck a chord for me as I often try to do yoga as if I were an animal, trying to get that feeling of simple, natural movement without obsessive thinking.

    I love the way you tell the emotional story in such a physical, grounded way… works flawlessly.

    Like

  14. christine says:

    Lirone, you’re back! Yay! Same to you, Noah. See, now you’re the old timers coming back to the poetry porch.

    G, he was a lovely sleek fellow, thanks for noticing. He loved his sleep, a true comfort hog. He even looked a bit like a Vietnamese pot-bellied pig!

    Odessa, I am not surprised you like yoga, you seem like a yogini. And how wonderful that you found that certain dog. Sounds like a poem to me.

    Dale, xxoo

    Like

  15. Julie says:

    Christine, I am so sorry for your loss. It is so hard, and I will keep you in my thoughts. What a beautiful poem. An awesome tribute for a dear family member. Your son’s words are very wise, too.

    Like

  16. susan says:

    The closing is particularly poignant, Christine. Loss is always difficult but I hear more than loss here, I hear a writer making keen observations about the cycle of life and making those observations about of our rituals that keep us sane and grateful in an unordinary, beautiful way.

    Like

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