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Steven Givler

Were he human,
This dog would be old enough to drive
But no teenage hormones surge through his tired veins
Those days are gone
Now that his muzzle is flecked with grey
He lived them when he had them though
This old dog, who has shared my home in five different states
And known me longer than has my wife
We found each other when I was single
He taught me the value of coming home at night
And consistency
And patience
Till he sat, stayed, spoke and heeled,
All at my command
And loved at no command at all
Half lab, half greyhound
All lean and rangy, ribs and legs
He could chase a rabbit like nobody's business
In west Texas he hit his peak
I would walk him on the plains
Nothing but mesquite and prickly pear
And jackrabbits, long ears and longer legs
I would spot them before he did
Being taller than he is
And, taking him by the collar
I would tell him, "Sit"
And, knowing what was coming
He would sit, ears up, and trembling
Waiting for me to point,
The only dog I've ever known to do so
Pointing at the rabbit, I watch him swivel his fine head
Until he spies a black-tipped ear, or hears a sound
Or trusts my sense of direction
Trembling no longer describes him
Taut as piano wire
Weight on his haunches
The line of his back the curve of a spring
I tell him "Go" (my favorite part)
And he launches like a missile
Nearly on the jack before it knows he's coming
They are off
The rabbit a low grey streak
Luther galloping close behind
Bounding over cactus
Like a steeplechaser
Front paws tucked beneath his chin
Ears back
Sailing effortlessly
And, I swear it, grinning
Usually the rabbit wins,
Only by the slimmest margin
But when he wins
Luther seems almost disappointed
Gleaming teeth close on heaving fur
Yet there is no carnage
He tosses the kicking rabbit high over his shoulder
It lands, still running, and sprints off
No longer of any interest
Not that Luther could not kill
Of this I am sure, gauging from that time
He interrupted the man who meant to mug me
Clamping his nether parts
In a vice of strong white teeth
The man disappeared across a parking lot
And down an alley
Luther firmly attached
I judged his position
By screams that sounded for all the world
As if they came from a nine year old girl
 Luther trotted back five minutes later
Wagging his tail

Copyright 2009 by Steven Givler. 
Used with permission of the author.


Steven Givler is an artist, writer, and language specialist. He lives in Germany and Italy, and he has also made his home in Greece, Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Portugal. Steven's book for children, The Ravens Build the Softest Nest, illustrated with his own watercolor paintings, is awaiting publication, and two of his short stories appear in the anthology, Operation Homecoming, from Random House. Learn more about Steven and see his paintings at


Post New Comment:
Posted 06/04/2024 10:59 AM
Wilda Morris:
I never had a dog of my own, but if I had one, I'd like one like Steve's - though much smaller!
Posted 06/04/2024 08:51 AM
A beautiful, sad poem for June 1. It brought back memories of our collie, Jeepers, our childhood dog. thanks so much, Steve.
Posted 06/01/2024 01:54 PM
Ron Stewart:
I strive daily to be the person my dog believes I am. Thank-you Steven for reminding me of that.
Posted 06/01/2024 11:37 AM
Darrell Arnold:
They were dogs who made a better man of me. Patience, kindness, caring, unvarnished truth, honesty, love -- unconditional love. I thought I knew all those things, but I realized at a level way too low. And they brought (and still bring) me so many moments of humor and pure joy. The dogs and their pleasures came to me halfway through my life. Thank God they came at all. I always thought of myself as a good guy. The dogs taught me I could be so much better. I always try to measure up to the status they have bestowed on me. They set a high standard.
Posted 06/01/2024 08:30 AM
Larry Schug:
This poem makes me happy and sad at the same time. How I miss all the dogs that shared my life.
Posted 06/01/2024 08:10 AM
I can see our dog, Amos, making the same chase (and never winning) with bravado and eager legs. Thanks for reminding me of Amos, now a dozen years gone and still lamented.
Posted 06/01/2014 07:55 AM
I enjoyed reading this poem so much. As a family we frequently reminisce about Islay _ who died aged 17. She was a constant in a very moving family. Your poem brought it all back.
Posted 06/01/2014 12:58 AM

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