May 2013

Pokey in her chair, 2002

I had to keep Pokey in my office until she learned to tolerate cats, and I used to sit on the futon she slept on and tell her bedtime stories about a lucky little dog who’d never have to worry again. It must have worked, because once she felt at home, Pokey was the most relentlessly happy dog I’ve ever known — she’d literally jump up and down at the sight of the same old boring canned dog food in her bowl. Sadly, she had never learned to play as a puppy, so while Brownie chased Frisbees with manic energy, Pokey just wandered around the yard looking for things to eat in the tall grass. Indoors, she spent a typical evening wandering around the kitchen licking the floor and stealing … things …  from the cats’ litter box. Letting Pokey lick your face, or even your hand, was a very bad idea. A walk with Pokey meant stopping literally every few yards for her bathroom breaks; I used to joke that she was actually a purebred Shih Tzalot. Children and cats loved Pokey, though she seemed strangely oblivious to the cats and would walk right over them if they happened to be between her and food.

Pokey & Brownie; Pokey had already eaten her antlers.

She was a sweet, sweet little doggie who followed me from room to room and up and down stairs a dozen times a day. She was  happiest when I would sit on the top step of the stairs with my arm around her and sing her silly songs about Pokey-Dokey the Flying Dog, whereupon Brownie would race up the stairs and demand that we make room for her. By the time Brownie died, Pokey had survived heartworm, the loss of most of her teeth, partial blindness and near-total deafness. We were lucky to have her for so long — we never knew her exact age, and she may have been as old as 17 or 18 — and now, with both Brownie and Pokey gone, the house seems intolerably quiet. Every morning for fifteen years I’ve gone downstairs, put on water for coffee, and headed for the leashes hanging by the back door. I still start for the door before I remember.

So, anyway, that was my month. Tune in next time when I’ll tell you something interesting about Thomas Pynchon’s novel Vineland (seriously). In the meantime, please consider subscribing or just contributing. We have always been dependent on the kindness of youse guys.

And now, on with the show….

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5 comments on this post.
  1. Chrysti M. Smith:

    As a lifelong dog devotee, and as one who has said final farewells to several of my canine companions, I extend my condolences to you and Kathy on the loss of your Pokey. Our dogs and cats provide such comfort to us as writers (I am one of those also), sleeping nearby as we labor away, and leaping up in glee when we decide that everyone needs a walk.
    I am sad with you.

  2. Craig Scheir:

    Very sorry to hear about your doggie. We, too, lost our little doggie in February. He was 17 and while we feel blessed that we had him for so long, the house is too quite and we miss him. We feel that pain of loss along with you.

  3. Victoria Ayers:

    We had three dogs and lost them one after the other at two week intervals, of cancer, heart disease and kidney failure. We swore never again to give our hearts away like that and we stuck it out for a good six weeks during which we were awash in depression. Then one little rescue pup showed up, and another, and now we are a happy family again, with hair on the furniture, no leftovers in the fridge, a medicine chest full of dewormer and anti-tick goo, the occasional slippery patch on the kitchen floor and a lot of laughs. My heart goes out to you, and I hope Pokey and Brownie send you a comforter, the way Duffy, Cricket and Humphrey did for us.

  4. Sarah Henson:

    I’m so so sorry to hear about your loss. Losing a pet is losing a family member. My sincerest condolences.

  5. Lynne:

    Sorry to hear about Pokey. She reminds me of the sweet dog we had while I was growing up, Sherry. A happy, friendly little girl, she loved to go for walks, ride in the car, and whenever my Dad played his electric organ she would stop whatever she was doing and curl up under the bench. Nominally my brother’s, she looked a lot like Pokey, the golden color, sweet face, and plumed tail. She also had the same bouncy enthusiasm for her dinner.

    We fed her kibble mixed with canned, which didn’t fool her a bit: She picked up each kibble, sucked all the good stuff off it, then spit it out on her placemat. Once she had cleaned out her bowl and consumed all the “good stuff” she ate all the kibble.

    We knew it was her time when dinner no longer evoked any enthusiasm. She was by then aged, near blind, incontinent, senile (if she missed the steps to the back porch she would stand, with her chest against the porch looking up in confusion as to why she couldn’t get into the house), and had been partially paralyzed for years in her hind legs in an unprovoked attack by a neighbor’s dog. But dinner was always an event, until the day she just stood there, too tired to bounce.

    I still miss her.

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