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The Give and Take of Age


I’ve enjoyed writing for many years. I'm dedicating more time to the craft in my retirement days.




It gives


It takes

It can do both

And it does



When I first met her

She was of an age

Small and shy

Hiding in the back

Behind the rest

I made my request

She was delivered to me

Laid on my knee

Until my young son


And uncoached

Her tail, it wagged

And there was joy

At seeing the boy

And they would walk

While I would work

Mom and son and pup so small

Teeny tiny legs only inches tall

For miles numbered three

And she would sleep and sleep

And sleep all day

Then wake up to play

And eat

Must eat

Or at least push my food around

And knock over my bowl

It’s dry and tastes like gravel

So, give me a treat

Oh, isn’t that neat

I just love a treat

Makes my heart boom boom

To see the joy

In her eyes

It’s like a birthday surprise

Every day


As she seems to say

Oh, look

I can run fast here

And over to there

And spin a circle

Bound around

Run away

And back

Stop on a dime

Bottom raised high

Tail pointing to the sky

Face down on front paws

Reacting to guffaws

And doing it again

With a quick spin

Ok ok ok

Here’s a reward

And a smile

A pat on the head

Time for bed

On the floor

On a pillow

In the master

For a decade

And a half

Plus one


Age gives

So much fun

And then one

Autumn day

The boy moves away

To school

To university

Too far to see

From here

Gone, not forgotten

Away, but still here

In a canine heart

And age takes


The things she can see

The things she can hear

Functions within


To decline

And the snow

Takes her mind

On a trip

To unfamiliar places

And stays away

For many days

And sometimes more

Yet, in the spring

The flowers bring

Awareness home

And treat in my hand

She’s a pup again

Pep in her step

Vigorous anticipation



No more circles

But tail wagging

Tongue dragging

It’s a long way

These few steps

After our walk today

Slow and let’s stay

Close to home

Don’t want to roam

I’m glad the boy’s back

For summer

I missed him

You can pat me on the head

I don’t mind


Author's Notes

This poem is a response to one of fellow writer Brenda Arledge's one-word prompts, "Age." It's also a response to some harsh and hard realities we are facing at home right now with Jesse, our pup. She's 16 years old and these days my wife and I have routinely some very uncomfortable conversations at the dinner table. It has been a good summer so far, but our son returns to school in just a matter of days. That always signals that the mean season is not long away. Jesse has not done well, physically or psychologically, these past two winters. The boy's departure, then, brings with it dread for Mom and Dad, and for more than one simple reason.

Meantime, though, and as long as the weather, Jesse's will, and her mind are all willing and able, we'll continue to walk the block daily and look for the joy in the moments we have together.

© 2021 greg cain


greg cain (author) from Moscow, Idaho, USA on August 18, 2021:

Brenda - yes, it will be tough on Jesse when my son heads back to school very soon. She gets daily visits from the FedEx guy, the UPS guy, both of whom carry treats and drop them to her when they put packages on my porch. She's a gentle soul, so she has always done well with those folks. Perhaps, however, having one of the kids from down the street pass by is not such a terrible idea.

We do have some of my son's clothes that will remain behind, too, so that also is a good idea.

Thanks for the thoughtful comments, Brenda, and thanks for the great prompt. It took me a while to work my way through it, but when I saw it I knew this was what I would write about. I just had to figure a way to piece all the rambling thoughts and emotions together in a coherent way.

Best, and have a good week.

greg cain (author) from Moscow, Idaho, USA on August 18, 2021:

John - aging is one of those perfect conundrums. You get wiser, know more but at the same time you lose much that was there in youth. That's what it's like with old Jesse girl, for sure. I, too, have lost several cats this past decade. It's never easy. We are partial to rescuing, as well, though when we got ragdoll cats we had to buy them from someone who bred them.

Sounds like Coco and Ginger lived to ripe old ages, as well, and that Ginger sure had a tough go of it! You are a kind soul to take her in and give her a good home in her aging years.

As said previously, we'll see how winter goes with old Jesse girl. She's slow now, but she's doing pretty well. Indeed, she's restless for her morning treat even now.

Thanks, John. Good week.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on August 17, 2021:


This article puts a different spin on Age.

We all love our pets dearly & as they get older it breaks our hearts to watch them decline.

Your poem shows us how in the beginning you choose him, but when he saw your son...he choose to be best friends with your son.

You watched the two of them grow up together.

You remember how your doggie was so playful in his younger days doing anything for a treat.

Each time your son must go away, the bond between your dog & son is broken.

Your dog suffers from loneliness wanting him to return.

But now years have added more age onto your dog as you watch him moving slower, unable to do all those playful things he used too.

This is so heartfelt.

I can feel the heartbreak in your words.

It's not going to be an easy time when your son returns.

Maybe you can find a neighborhood child who can visit once in a while to help your doggie not miss him so much.

Or better yet, be sure to keep a few old shirts with your son's scent on them and place one in the doggies bed every so often.

I do that whenever we go away for vacation...it seems to help the loneliness.

I will post a link in the word prompt article

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on August 17, 2021:

Greg, what a heartfelt and touching poem. It was the perfect way to represent aging. I hope Jesse gets through the next winter ok and you have as much time with her as possible. I know the heartache of losing a pet as we have lost so many over the years, four dogs and one cat in the last four years in fact.

Every one of our animals has been a rescued animal or a stray that just moved in and adopted us.

The last two dogs we lost were each about 14 when they passed, Coco and Ginger. Though Ginger had been both blind and deaf for the last two years of her life which was extremely difficult.

Though we now have five cats, It has been about 12 months now with no dog, but we are seriously considering getting another soon.

greg cain (author) from Moscow, Idaho, USA on August 17, 2021:

@Pamela Oglesby - I don't know what happened to my response to your comment earlier today. It got lost in transmission across devices, I guess, because I answered first thing this AM. Operator error, I guess. In any case, here's a repost so you're not ghosted:

Sixteen years is unfathomable, really. We were not looking that far downstream when we adopted Jesse from a shelter place up in Massachusetts. She was all of precious then, and still is even now. Her given name was "Sunshine," but we renamed her Jesse because we'd always had girl dogs prior that had boy names starting with 'J'. Jake, Jonas, Jazzer, and the like. None of those beautiful girls lived nearly as long for one reason or other.

Anyway, we are also hopeful Jesse will be around for much, much longer. She's a joy, even if she is much slower going these days.

Best to you, Miss Pamela. Have a good week.

greg cain (author) from Moscow, Idaho, USA on August 17, 2021:

Pamela - thanks for the kind, heartfelt words. Jesse, my dog, was rescued from roadside abandonment somewhere down south, in Kentucky, I believe. She'd been transferred to a shelter in Massachusetts that placed all their animals, no alternative to finding them a home. We don't know much history beyond that, but truthfully there couldn't have been much since she was so young and small. In any case, she has been with us for so, so many years that when her time comes it will be difficult beyond measure.

I read about Pandy, and Emerald and Princely in your article on your profile page. What a wonderful treat to have three pets who got to interact, play, fight over Mom's attention. We have the same setup, have had for many years, though we've always had three cats and the one dog. The dynamic is wonderful. They get after each other playfully throughout the day, and they are definitely siblings in every sense of the word, other than by birthright. In the past few years, we've lost our fair share of cats, and that is equally as hard. There is no preventive medicine for that kind of heartache save not adopting a pet, and I'm not sure we could do that. As you note, however, if a dog lives to somewhere between 15-20 years, for us another adoption does not seem like the best of ideas given our age and all. In any case, at this point, it is too soon to make a definitive decision. We are hopeful to have some more quality time with Jesse.

Thanks for the words of encouragement, and thanks for stopping by to give the work a read. Bless you, and have a good week, Pamela.

Pamela Dapples from Arizona now on August 17, 2021:

Very engaging and heartfelt poetry. Thank you for sharing. It's been ten months since our Pandy's health unexpectedly and quickly deteriorated. I decided to let her be euthanized. When I had rescued her, she was lost, wandering the streets. The vet examined her and said she had been over-used for breeding by someone and that she was in bad shape, plus Pandy also had two deceased puppies in her. We had four good years together for which I am grateful. I knew I would miss her terribly, but that turned out to only be intellectual knowledge until I let her go. I was amazed at the depth of grief. It's only now I'm thinking I can try again to go for walks alone. I sure wasn't ready the first nine months -- even though I'd walked alone for 43 years before I met her. Our daily walks through hills and dales behind our home were my days' highlights. Perhaps there is some wisdom in adopting another dog soon after a beloved dog passes away. I'm not going to do it at this late date, but if I had it to do over again, I think it is easier on the heart. I believe I will see her again. I hope all the best for you and your family and your beloved dog in the decisions ahead.

greg cain (author) from Moscow, Idaho, USA on August 17, 2021:

Femi - so very right you are. It is impossible to watch them degrade and deteriorate as they grow old and not think of our own mortal limitations. Thanks for the thoughtful comment, and hope you have a good week.

femi from Nigeria on August 17, 2021:

I have had the privilege to have had 2 family dogs who lived long lives and died. Dogs are amazing pets they offer unconditional love, devotion and protection in time of need. They also help us learn and understand our mortality.

greg cain (author) from Moscow, Idaho, USA on August 17, 2021:

Jaye - so very true, so perfectly said. It is one of life’s great conundrums. If we dare nothing we gain nothing. I have dared to love many pets in my lifetime, will probably do so again, despite also knowing I will likely outlive them, will have to watch or participate otherwise in their endings. Like you, I can say I’d not avoid the ending because the other rewards along the way are so very gratifying. Thanks for the great comment, Jaye.

greg cain (author) from Moscow, Idaho, USA on August 17, 2021:

Sha Sha - so sorry to hear about your cat, too. Hope the surgery goes well for him. One of my vets is very old, too, but she’s doing quite well, so her time horizon has not quite come into view.

As for Jesse, we still share moments of great joy together. Today’s walk was like a whole new exploratory adventure for her even though we’ve been down that road many times before. I love that.

Hope you have a great week, Sha Sha

Jaye Denman from Deep South, USA on August 17, 2021:

Lovely poem, Greg, and I feel every word. Anyone who loves a dog or other pet knows the dread of that time ahead when we must let go unselfishly to protect the beloved one from misery. It's tough being the human with hard decisions to make. However, I would not protect myself from the pain ahead by giving up all the love and joy I receive from the dog now sharing my home and life. Nor do I know anyone else who would do so.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on August 17, 2021:

I feel for you, Box. One of my cats, who's 13, developed glaucoma in his right eye. He's been on medication for the past two months, but hasn't responded. His retina has now detached and he's completely blind in that eye. Sadly, he's scheduled for surgery a week from today to have it removed. It breaks my heart. Fortunately, otherwise, he's very healthy with all his innards functioning properly.

Our pets spend decades as part of the family. Seeing them deteriorate is heartbreaking.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on August 17, 2021:

I loved this wonderful poem, Greg. It really expresses the life of a precious dog. You certainly met Brenda's prompt.

I think 16 years is pretty awesome, and I hope he is around for a lot longer. I know how much we love our pets.

greg cain (author) from Moscow, Idaho, USA on August 17, 2021:

Bill - they become ingrained, and we can't become inured to the pain when it's time for them to go. We are hopeful Jesse will be able to hang for a while longer, but mindful that we can't put her through more than we should just for our own hearts and minds. That's what makes it tough. Also, bygones for not getting back to you on e-mail. The day got away from me yesterday, and I'm working projects this AM. More to follow beyond this: Thanks so very much, my friend.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on August 17, 2021:

We have two dogs, love them like the dickens. They are three and four years of age, and we are already dreading the day when we will have to have those serious conversations. My God, the do become ingrained on our hearts, don't they?

Wonderful poetry, my friend. Good luck with those discussions with your wife. I don't envy you at all.

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