by Michael Yonchenko
(Swans - January 16, 2006) Dear Gilles and Jan,
Thank you for your warm condolences. As for your Priam...give him a treat, give him a hug, and let him sleep on the bed. Very few things matter to dogs. Only the important things. We all need to learn this and remember it. bob didn't know christian from jew from muslim from republican from democrat from liberal from conservative from black, brown or white. He knew to be nice to creatures that were nice to him or he would otherwise ignore them, unless they were squirrels, rats or rabbits. He didn't think about them, he just knew that he was supposed to chase them. It's dog DNA and has nothing to do with personal choice, hatred, bias, or discrimination. He knew that all meals were good meals. He knew that licking his balls (or where they once were) was better than...just about anything...except a good meal. He didn't know how to forgive. To bob it wasn't ever necessary. He didn't know yesterday or tomorrow. He knew how to comfort us. He considered this his job. He liked children more than adults and he loved adults. He knew all the most vile swear words because whenever I said one he would stop me from whatever I was doing to give me a hug. And I mean a real hug. If I was sitting down he'd come over to me wagging his tail, jump up on his hind legs, wrap his front legs around my waist and nuzzle me under my arm. There is not a tranquilizer in this world that could calm me down like one of bob's hugs. He owned our bed. He would always be on the bed before me. How he managed this is still a mystery to me. I'd come into the bedroom to go to bed and he'd be lying there in the middle of the bed. And he would be boneless and his weight would double. To lift him off the bed was like trying to carry a greased balloon of jello. I would cradle him in my arms to move him. He clearly enjoyed this. And so did I. I have about a thousand photos of him. I've been looking at all of them and enjoying many tears and many laughs.
He was a good boy and I will always love him and miss him.
[ed. bob, with a lower case to avoid confusion with Bob, Michael's brother-in-law, died on January 10, 2006, of a heart attack. He was almost 14 years young. Priam is our very own and very unique faithful companion. So, with bob and Priam in mind (and heart), here is a short poem by Gene Hill that was first published in his book Tears and Laughter, initially published in 1982 by Longman Trade/Caroline House; ISBN 0822780399. This short excerpt is published in memory of bob and love of Priam, and under the provision of U.S. Code, Title 17, section 107. Mr. Hill died in 1997.]
Just My Dog
He is my other eyes that can see above the clouds;
my other ears that hear above the winds.
He is the part of me that can reach out into the sea.
He has told me a thousand times over that I am his reason
for being by the way he rests against my leg;
by the way he thumps his tail at my smallest smile;
by the way he shows his hurt when I leave without taking him.
(I think it makes him sick with worry when he is not
along to care for me.)
When I am wrong, he is delighted to forgive.
When I am angry, he clowns to make me smile.
When I am happy, he is joy unbounded.
When I am a fool, he ignores it.
When I succeed, he brags.
Without him, I am only another man. With him, I am all-powerful.
He is loyalty itself. He has taught me the meaning of devotion.
With him, I know a secret comfort and a private peace.
He has brought me understanding where before I was ignorant.
His head on my knee can heal my human hurts.
His presence by my side is protection against my fears of dark and
He has promised to wait for me...whenever...wherever—
in case I need him.
And I expect I will—as I always have.
He is just my dog.
Animal lovers? Please help-- err, Swans.