Welcome to where I am, where my kitchen's always messy, a pot's (or a poet) always about to boil over, a dog is always begging to be fed. Drafts of poems on the counter. Windows filled with leaves. Wind. Clouds moving over the mountains. If you like poetry, books, and music--especially dog howls when a siren unwinds down the hill-- you'll like it here.


MY NEW AUTHOR'S SITE, KATHRYNSTRIPLINGBYER.COM, THAT I MYSELF SET UP THROUGH WEEBLY.COM, IS NOW UP. I HAD FUN CREATING THIS SITE AND WOULD RECOMMEND WEEBLY.COM TO ANYONE INTERESTED IN SETTING UP A WEBSITE. I INVITE YOU TO VISIT MY NEW SITE TO KEEP UP WITH EVENTS RELATED TO MY NEW BOOK.


MY NC POET LAUREATE BLOG, MY LAUREATE'S LASSO, WILL REMAIN UP AS AN ARCHIVE OF NC POETS, GRADES K-INFINITY! I INVITE YOU TO VISIT WHEN YOU FEEL THE NEED TO READ SOME GOOD POEMS.

VISIT MY NEW BLOG, MOUNTAIN WOMAN, WHERE YOU WILL FIND UPDATES ON WHAT'S HAPPENING IN MY KITCHEN, IN THE ENVIRONMENT, IN MY IMAGINATION, IN MY GARDEN, AND AMONG MY MOUNTAIN WOMEN FRIENDS.




Tuesday, June 9, 2009

ARJUN: SAYING GOODBYE



(Last photograph of Arjun, taken the first morning I was back from Ga., after my flat tire experience! Having the dogs waiting for me helped calm me down.)


For nearly two years we have watched our daughter's beloved dog Arjun grow more decrepit, losing his hearing, his eyesight, his sense of who he was and where he was. What he was was a miracle. He had been one of the "Buchanan dogs," as they came to be known. I did not know this man's history, only that when he died suddenly of a heart attack 10 years ago, he left behind as many as 40 dogs in crates and cages. When his neighbors realized that they had not seen Mr. Buchanan around for a few days, they discovered him dead and called in the Health Department. Our good friend Mary Adams went over to check out the situation. She found many of these dogs unable to be saved. Only 4 or 5 were able to be put up for adoption. Our Arjun was one. She says that, remarkably, considering his living conditions for so many years, he put his nose through the cage and let her pet him. (The others were not socialized enough to make them adoptable.)

And so, three days after our daughter's cocker spaniel died suddenly one January night, we both went to ARF Adoption Day outside Ingle's in Sylva. (ARF is our local human society organization.) There sat a dog looking a lot like the gone spaniel, but larger, obviously with some Golden Retriever in him, as well. Same coloration. Large liquid eyes. Cory sat down and the dog climbed into her lap. He did not leave. We took him home with us, and here he has stayed ever since. Because he had survived so much in his first 8 years of living in a crate, receiving very little attention, probably not much food, Cory named him Arjun, her warrior-dog, after the hero of the Bhagavad Gita who meets God on the battlefield and sees the mystery of creation opened up to him. Arjun really was only warrior-like when our daughter seemed to be threatened or when our old dog Copper came at him. He was especially a warrior when he was on one side of the sliding glass door and Copper on the other. They waged fierce battles through that glass, teeth snarling, froth flying.

Now Arjun lies beside our garden. He breathed his last heroic breath Sunday afternoon. My good friends Herb Potts and Chris Wilcox came as soon as I called them and helped me through the last moments. Then they buried Arjun by our garden. I thank them a hundred times over. Our daughter was devoted to her dog. She called him "the love of her life." I would not presume to think that an exaggeration.


Here is a poem that my friend Susan Lefler wrote when their Gandolf died.

Gandolf

The old dog died—quiet.
Laid his gold head down
in my husband’s hands as if
to please us one last time,
which after all was his reason
for being: the cold nose
in the face each morning, his head
on my feet as I worked.

I listen for the click of his nails
as he crosses the house to see
where I am, how I am today.

A perfect V of wild geese flew above us
as we laid him in the ground,
they were calling
and calling

Susan Lefler



Our youngest dog, Ace, standing in the light of that same morning, when I was so happy to be back home.

12 comments:

Julie said...

I am so sorry about Arjun. It is awful to lose a beloved friend. I still mourn for my pets.

Susan's poem is beautiful.

Susan M. Bell said...

Pets are a part of the family, like four-legged furrbabies, another set of children. They come into our lives and bring with them so much love and loyalty. They give much more than we could ever actually repay.

Arjun's life may have started out badly, but when he came to y'all, he was given a new start. I'm sorry for your loss. I hope you find comfort in the many years of joy you shared with him.

Judy Roney said...

Rest in peace beautiful Arjun,warrior dog, companion and friend. You and your daughter were heros to find Arjun and love him all the years he was with you. This is so sad; to say good bye to our pet. Sending lots of thoughts and prayers your way.

Kathryn Stripling Byer said...

Thank you Julie, Susan, and Judy. I so appreciate the responses I've had from friends. I didn't expect this to hit me as hard as it did, since we knew A. didn't have much longer. Susan, I haven't heard from you in a little while. I hope all is going well for you.
Kay

Joan Ellen Gage said...

I offer condolences. Dogs are like our children in many ways. It cuts keenly to lose one; I too have lost a great friend.

Glenda Beall said...

Your loss brought tears to my eyes as I remember the dear furry friends I've lost over the years. Those who don't love and respect pets like Arjun and my Rocky, have no idea the pain we suffer when their lives are over. I understand your hurt, Kay, and I mourn with you.
susan's poem is heartfelt and touching.

Kathryn Stripling Byer said...

Thank you Glenda and Joan Ellen. I've a busy day today--garden work.
I hope your day is "good-busy".

Vicki Lane said...

It always hurts.

But what a wonderful life you all gave Arjun.

Carol @ TheWritersPorch said...

Arjun was blessed to spend his days with your family!You were blessed to spend your days with him!

Jessie Carty said...

rip pup :(
i still look around for the two cats who have left us over the years *sigh*
but i wouldn't trade having had them with us!

Brenda Kay Ledford said...

Kay,
So sorry about the dog. I know how you feel. I've lost several pets and always mourned their passing like a member of my family.
The poem by Susan is very touching.

Susan M. Bell said...

Kay - Still here just not doing the usual stuff online as much right now. Chris has been sick and we've spent the past several weeks back and forth to the doctor and such getting every test known to man it seems. They still can't figure it out. Next week it's to Asheville for an endoscopy and biopsy of his small intestine. Maybe that will find something.
-S-