Shame on me
for not loving that dog.
Part collie, part shepherd,
barrel-chested and brown with
white and black swirled in,
Pete was a runner and a barker
and he came with us when my step-dad
packed us all up and moved us
from California to Oregon.
We got a place in the country
with some land and with post-holes to dig.
There were seven of us kids still too young
to have a choice about moving. Still, only I
got assigned to dig the holes.
I was 16 and strong
and, seemed to me,
always the odd-man out.
Well, I’d get a hole dug and then run
in the field as fast as I could just to see
if Pete could keep up. Of course he could –
we were in our primes
with ferocious lungs
and legs that never tired.
I’d do what lonely kids
with dogs in the movies always did –
run in the tall grass and stop
to wrap my arms around
that barrel chest and roll around
and laugh it up and talk to him
as the sun set. I’d scratch his belly
and under his chin and let him
lick me right in the face.
After I graduated and got married
and had myself a couple of sons,
Pete got skittish and cranky
and just about all the way blind.
My step-dad refused to believe
that it was only a matter of time.
It ended up being a neighbor kid –
one serious bite right above the ankle,
four deep holes that earned Pete a bullet.
Shame on me
for shooting that dog.
Memoir Journal - Issue 11