In Memory of Old Yeller- 199?-2007
He was old and his sweet muzzle was white, but we weren’t really ready to say good-bye. But as we prepared to tuck in for the night last evening, I realized that I hadn’t seen Old Yeller for a good part of the day. He usually divided his time between indoors and out, but he loved the deck on a cool, sunny day. We stepped outside to search, and there he was, lying on the brick walkway, as if asleep.
I’ll miss seeing him trot down the path toward the creek, tail waving. I’ll miss his excited puppy dance when he comes in feeling particularly frisky (as he sometimes still did). I’ll miss his diplomatic skills with visiting dogs– he’d greet them with waving tail, and escort them around the yard, as if showing them the sights. I’ll miss seeing him bestow sloppy kisses across the cat’s faces. I’ll probably even miss the occasions when we all exclaimed, “Old Yeller! What have you been rolling in?”
During the past year, he’s lost sight in one eye, so there were funny moments when he’d run in to lay on the cushion beside the woodstove without noticing that it was already occupied. He’d flop down, and usually roll over on his back to wiggle around, while the cat or dog that had been dozing there struggled out from under him. He was such a good-natured old boy that no one could be crabby to him, so they forgave him quickly, and would sometimes even snuggle back beside him.
There’s always a poem, as poets lose their beloved friends, as we all do. Two poems in particular seem fitting–
I have done mostly what men do,
And pushed it out of my mind;
But I can’t forget, if I wanted to,
Four-Feet trotting behind.
Day after day, the whole day through–
Wherever my road inclined–
Four-Feet said, ‘I am coming with you!’
And trotted along behind.
Now I must go by some other round–
Which I shall never find–
Some where that does not carry the sound
Of Four-Feet trotting behind.
Epitaph to a Dog
George Gordon, Lord Byron
Near this spot
Are deposited the Remains
Of one Who Possessed Beauty
Strength without Insolence,
Courage without Ferocity,
And all the Virtues of Man
Without his Vices.
This Praise, which would be unmeaning
flattery If inscribed over Human Ashes,
Is but a just tribute to the
Memory of “Boatswain,” a Dog
Who was born at Newfoundland,
And died at Newstead Abbey
Nov. 18, 1808.
Requiescat in pace, Old Yeller. You were the best of dogs.