The Dogs of the Makenna Clan

for a daughter who put down that dying dog Marley

you were carried home
baby’s room already sniffed by two
dogs named Mako, Orca
ironical since mother, son
were German Shepherds

You went to the river
with them, that band
which snakes along
artificial border
Rio Grande, Rio Bravo

dogs swimming at the edge,
reeds on one side, Mexicans on the other
all of us mojados checking each other
father speaking Spanish,
you blonde daughter
and hellacious “police dogs”

you were in diapers
mother breast-feeding
camping in Apache land
when four freaks
four-wheelers
drunk and methed out
coming through campground

Mako and Orca barked
wanted to come with me
as I followed white crazies
past midnight

those dogs spent hours
with you, in El Paso, in campgrounds
then we moved to another border
near Canada, Spokane, woods
snow, the clean river

they’d dive for stones
man, another crazy
dog story after dog story
you had them, and then
they were put down, hips shot through

then there was Spokane-born
Rio, named Tank by the breeder
then Katie came, amazing two
Shepherds from El Paso
underground, hard
basalt as a forever
bed, then Rio, down for the count
so Katie, mixed breed, held her own

old lady as a youngster
always a smile, Katie, always
ready to tag out
other dogs, then the Otis Man
who grabbed entire trees
loved water, trees
hit once by porcupine

Otis, Katie, those other dogs
long gone, until the Marley
came to you, tender hearted
a soul from an abused
home, he was loyal to
both you and mother
and skittish but
your friend, another smiling
mixed-breed, tail wagging
ears up, down
not digging guys so much

he is another tail tale
holds the quantum power
of animals alive and gone
particles at the subatomic
level his float, inside air near
you, in your own blood

that boy will be always
gravitation pull
now you have years
under your belt sweet daughter
stories hold the tears at bay
smile at all the seasons
you and Marley walked together
the ice, how the sky in Spokane
has four seasons, listen and taste the air
next week, in a year
the air and forests will
forever hold Marley’s bark

*****

Note: I wrote a piece in my column over at the Pacific Northwest Weekly Inlander about our dog Rio, and holding him while he died. He wasn’t that old; a twisted stomach was the cause of death.

I can’t find the piece, as those days in the early 2000’s are somewhere in the digital gulag, though there are articles and columns here: Paul Haeder, Inlander.

Rio was amazing, a black Shepherd that we picked up from a family north of Spokane when we were on our way to camp up north, near the Canadian border. He was big, radar giant ears, and he was car sick for a good six months. He was fearless, went after black bears, and swam in rapids to pick up sunken balls.

Even a few camping trips with him are the elements of molecules in my own cortex. The entire personality and his wiley ways and how he worked with people, children, babies, all of that, again, a master of a friend.

So many shepherds,

To all dog lovers .

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Second Note: Here, a couple, former “junkies in Seattle,” caring for those street cats: “Two souls, nine lives!

Seattle residents Joe and Nellie Salinas take care of more than 70 'street cats' by setting up feed stations through the area. (Paul K. Haeder / Down to Earth NW Correspondent)

[Seattle residents Joe and Nellie Salinas take care of more than 70 ‘street cats’ by setting up feed stations through the area. (Paul K. Haeder / Down to Earth NW Correspondent)]

Animal love in all the right places!

Paul Haeder's been a teacher, social worker, newspaperman, environmental activist, and marginalized muckraker, union organizer. Paul's book, Reimagining Sanity: Voices Beyond the Echo Chamber (2016), looks at 10 years (now going on 17 years) of his writing at Dissident Voice. Read his musings at LA Progressive. Read (purchase) his short story collection, Wide Open Eyes: Surfacing from Vietnam now out, published by Cirque Journal. Here's his Amazon page with more published work Amazon. Read other articles by Paul, or visit Paul's website.