Arlo’s Garden


My first old golden planted himself everyday

in the garden by my patio chair. That’s where he took his nap.

At thirteen, all Arlo needed was water, food and tennis balls

and, of course, he needed me.

It wasn’t until he died that I realised

how much I needed him.

If he’d been a man, I probably would have married him.

That dog set roots in me,

roots so deep, that even after he was gone,

within a week, they sprouted another

homeless old golden named Shadow.

Shadow lived to be fifteen and a half.

Then one night his eyes looked into mine, and they said

Thank you.

The next day he died, and I missed his golden

shadow beside my chair, and under my feet,

but I felt his soul staying right with me for six weeks.

I buried some of his fur in Arlo’s garden.

Then it took root, blossomed and brought me Libby.

She’s thirteen and real chipper. Kind of bossy too.

She’s not like the boys, but I love her anyway.

I understand her. We both think like girls.

Libby lays on the lounge chair cushion

that I took off the chair and put on the patio floor

so she could lay beside me as I write.

She likes her comforts and I like her company.

Today I looked up, meaning to say a word to Libby

let her know how much I appreciate her help,

but her cushion was bare.

She didn’t raise her head to smile.

I saw some dirt strewn on the ground; I gazed across

to the strip of garden where Arlo planted roots

and where Shadow’s fur blossomed.

There Libby had planted herself, fast asleep and dreaming.

I couldn’t help but wonder as her paws twitched

and her muzzle nursed a bark

if two big goldens weren’t running beside her,

chasing balls, catching skunks,

and swimming the deep spring river.



Filed under Non-Fiction, Poetry, Uncategorized

31 responses to “Arlo’s Garden

  1. Barbara

    Sweet dreams, Libby! She looks so content and carefree…

  2. That’s Arlo in the photo. And he was – content and carefree. He was one heck of a great dog.

  3. oh… that soooo sweet… dreaming a dream for your sweet Libby… that’s the best an animal can get! The warmth of other animals that have passed, in its dreams…
    Really sweet!!

    • They live by less complicated rules than us, more honest and straightforward, and they’re always grateful for such little things, like touch, dinner and most of all, our presence.

  4. sallyinengland

    made me cry
    thank you for the memories of my dogs past
    thank you for writing so simple so full of grace
    so honouring of your friends
    when I was in Peggy Guggenheims sculpture garden in Venice a few weeks ago
    there is a long list of her buried shiatzu friends and there she chose to be buried herself will send the picture
    Lovely way to start my sunday – my Dad is here painting my windowsill the teapot is pouring the clouds are thus far keeping the day cool and at 16.14 my darling Roberto returns from nearly 3 weeks in Scandinavia
    hold out the flags
    There is a God
    love Sally

  5. oooh..i actually shed a tear…you keep up the good work…good luck to you..thanks Pete

    • Thanks, Pete. Loved your Scotish poem; I could almost smell the peat fires smouldering and the piper resting his instrument, as the white-haired storyteller sat down to tell his tale of doom…

  6. Oh! This poem is so beautiful, filled with love, gratitude and caring. The companionship of animals is precious, and the undemanding loyalty of their love touches us in a way that no other love quite does.

  7. thank you for that heartfelt poem. the love of an animal goes deep, and here I now sit remembering all of my past companions…

    • Each of them blesses us when they share a part of our lives. They have a way of showing us how to live in the moment; to open our hearts without fear – just gratitude. We are so lucky for their memories!

  8. If he’d been a man, I probably would have married him.

    I empathize with the feelings you emote in this poem. As you know, I lost two cats this month. Have you ever listened to The Roches? I can’t find a link to a you tube video, but they have a song, “If I was a dog.” on their self titled (and first album) Your poem made me think of that….haven’t in years. Awesome. Thanks Sue

    • I don’t remember The Roches, but my sweetheart (who is a man) probably will. He has just about every band and song from the 60’s on up stored on his little i-gadget thing and he knows all the words, too. He likes to sing along with them in the car; problem is, he can’t sing. 🙂 I’ll ask him to find me the song.

      Are you going to adopt more cats? Whenever I lose a dog, I grieve so much, that I usually break down by the third day, drive like a mad-woman up to the sanctuary and get myself another senior to foster. After each dog dies, I can feel them with me, and even sometimes hear their collar tag clink in the garden or by their dish. It’s like they haven’t felt able to let me go. When I bring home the next foster, I feel my old dog relaxing, as if they know I’ll be alright now, and so will their golden buddy who, I swear, they choose for me. Even though it takes a while to get used to the stranger, I feel that the new dog is grieving too – they lost a family somehow. So we grieve together and comfort each other, and before you know it, a couple of months have gone by and we don’t remember what it was like not having each other to play with, walk with, groom and cuddle, eat sweet potateos with; I don’t know how people can live without animals. Lucky us.

  9. oh, I have goosebumps! This was wonderful for me because I have a sweet golden that is aging too fast. I am his favorite member of the family. He is always by my side. Your dog poems hooked me. I am going to subscribe to your RSS feed right now – so keep ’em comin’ (smiles)

  10. his golden shadow under my chair…very sweet..he should have been a great companian i believe…i too have written about the lost of my dog in my poetry blog..dogs are indeed man’s &woman’s best friend

  11. sweet and apt lines…
    Thanks for sharing…

  12. Nothing I say will be able to take the pain away right now Cindy, I feel your heartache and know how much it hurts) I wish could just give you a hug right now…you’re in my mind, heart and thoughts…and I leave you with this that I received when my Sebastian had to go Beyond the Rainbow:-
    As much as I loved the life we had and all the times we played,
    I was so very tired and knew my time on earth would fade.
    I saw a wondrous image then of a place that’s trouble-free
    Where all of us can meet again to spend eternity.

    I saw the most beautiful Rainbow, and on the other side
    Were meadows rich and beautiful — lush and green and wide!
    And running through the meadows as far as the eye could see
    Were animals of every sort as healthy as could be!
    My own tired, failing body was fresh and healed and new
    And I wanted to go run with them, but I had something left to do.

    I needed to reach out to you, to tell you I’m alright
    That this place is truly wonderful, then a bright Glow pierced the night.
    ‘Twas the Glow of many Candles shining bright and strong and bold
    And I knew then that it held your love in its brilliant shades of gold.

    For although we may not be together in the way we used to be,
    We are still connected by a cord no eye can see.
    So whenever you need to find me, we’re never far apart
    If you look beyond the Rainbow and listen with your heart.

    I love you Cindy xxxx

    • Thank you so much, Amanda. Your words are truly comforting – brings out a whole new flood of tears, but tears heal – washing away the grief. When I got home from the vet’s, I went out to Libby’s patch of the garden where she dug herself a cool spot and lay in the shade everyday – the same place where Arlo and Shadow used to lay. I found three winter lily leaf sprouts – two tall ones and one short one in the middle, growing through the freshly dug soil (I never planted them there). I felt it was my two old boys, Shadow and Arlo letting me know they had Libby between them. They’re taking care of her now. Your beautiful poem makes me think of the three of them running and playing together.
      Bless you. XXXX

  13. Beautiful poetry! Lovely sentiments for your faithful friends. 🙂

  14. Oh your poem brought tears to my eyes. I experienced the same with my cats, Mr. Brat, Peni, and Ari, as each one followed the other to another place. It never gets easier. You have paid a beautiful tribute to Arlo, Shadow, and Libby.

  15. Lovely. All the dogs in my life have stolen pieces of my heart and revealed parts of me I’d never known. I really loved this.

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