Trooper; my Best Friend
On first sight, so appalling,
as the drunken warrior stuffed
balls of shivering fluff
into a weight sack.
Could only save one, you were chosen.
Blue eyes barely open,
whimpering louder than the rest,
for a bitch that would never answer.
Bottle rejected; started on solids
before you could walk.
From teat to raw burger
in one cycle of the moon.
Independently fierce — breed to survive.
Part German Shepherd; all Wolf.
Believing you could fend
with milk teeth and feeble growl.
Your first timid steps hilarious,
chanter to the left; 1, 2, 3 . . . fall.
Righted again; stagger to the right;
1, 2, 3 . . . fall, all over again!
Your rapid progress, pup
to alpha stud, phenomenal,
in just one cycle of the Sun.
Fear and revered by all.
So many things shared
as companions and friends —
Nurturing you; defending me
on our nocturnal alpine walks.
Teaching control and obedience,
trying to suppress urges to kill,
only exceptions protection and loyalty.
Mink, skunk, bears . . . nothing you feared.
Our highs and lows,
all memories cherished.
Downing the Parkland horse,
definitely a setback . . .
Another their retaliation,
shooting you eleven times.
Shredding shoulder and neck,
then crawling home to be forgiven.
Never forget the house you destroyed,
tearing it apart in an effort to escape,
'cause some stranger unawares,
locked you indoors alone.
Once staking a claim,
no one dare intrude
or make an approach on
anything you considered ours.
Riding shotgun when'er
we ventured out together.
Then falling asleep only if
the engine quieted and stopped.
Once showing the power
hidden in those ruthless teeth,
when foolish I ventured,
between your ration and jaw.
Learned together, mutual respect.
Using only acquired telepathy,
we communicated by speaking
with silent eyes flashes.
Muzzles and chains
were useless to restrain,
only obedience and love
could hold you in place.
Often we traveled by plane,
your fares eclipsing mine,
as did your meal tags
and the attention received.
Pre-dawn paddle to elude you,
searched and found me;
thinking it was a stalking bear,
the canoe almost capsized.
Many an evening you sat,
uninvited, aboard my lap.
We rocked to megawatt
tunes, we both favored.
On Winter nights,
my feet never froze.
With 30 keys of fur,
snoring on my toes.
Forced to give you up,
only to find you abandoned,
a shivering mound of snow.
A blessing to save you yet again.
Surrounding those Gate Nighters.
You proved your true worth,
even the men in blue,
gave you a wide berth.
Felling an aspen like a beaver,
'cause I'd tied to tree,
just so you could join me;
oh, what a silly boy you were!
Damn poachers — snare wire so tight,
forced to slash a shank to gouge access
for my bloody snips: Thank the Lord,
'twas only a foreleg and not your throat.
Dozens of stitches, Vet bills and meds,
you were a costly toy, my precious boy.
But all those sacrifices and costs,
never half equaled yours.
Built a cage to protect other wildlife
from your wraith; but again outwitted,
'cause you enticed your guests in,
like the spider did the fly.
Lined up your trophies
to prove innate hunter skills.
With pride; wagging mischievously
to announce your cleverness.
Living far beyond your time,
you cheated the reaper,
more than a dozen times.
Like a cat with endless lives.
Wizards with steroids
returned you to youth,
only to have everything fail
in one wag of the tail.
The memory crushes me,
finding you laying there still,
face down and helpless,
in your dish of gruel.
You passed slowly in my arms;
by far, my worst Yule Time ever.
Our last ride, through blizzard and tears,
to a crematorium; at least you were warm.
You were a survivor,
with the heart of a lion.
Your will for self-preservation
only time could defeat.
Now you're only an urn of ashes,
and a soap stone likeness.
Your essence I'll carry 'til we're united,
in a happier hunting ground, my dear friend.