A Dog's Prayer

Treat me kindly, my beloved master, for no heart in the world is
more grateful for kindness than the loving heart of me.

Do not break my spirit with a stick,
for though I should lick your hand between the blows,
your patience and understanding will more quickly teach me
the things you would have me do.

Speak to me often,
for your voice is the world's sweetest music,
as you must know by the fierce wagging of my tail
when your footstep falls upon my waiting ear.

When it is cold and wet, please take me inside —
for I am now a domesticated animal
no longer used to bitter elements.

And I ask no greater glory than the privilege of
sitting at your feet beside the hearth —
for you are my god, and I am your devoted worshipper.

Keep my pan filled with fresh water,
for although I should not reproach you if it were dry,
I cannot tell you when I suffer thirst.

Feed me clean food, that I may stay well
to romp and play and do your bidding,
to walk by your side, and stand ready,
willing and able to protect you with my life
should your life be in danger.

And, beloved master, should the Great Master
see fit to deprive me of my health or sight,
do not turn me away from you.
Rather hold me gently in your arms
as skilled hands grant me the merciful bounty of eternal rest —
and I will leave you knowing, with the last breath I drew,
that my fate was ever safest in your hands.

Remember me not with tearful eyes —
but instead with abounding heart.
Should you choose to fill my bed, feel no guilt,
you have not betrayed me.

Love another as you always loved me —
and they too will love you as I always have.

• • •

By Beth Norman Harris