But He Loved His Dog

24 million will lose their health care unless some in congress have a backbone and a twitch of caring for those they are sworn to care for.

When our daughter, Meridith, was living in France for a year on a Watson Fellowship to paint in the footsteps of Cezanne, she was struck by a hit-and-run motorcyclist and was taken immediately into surgery for critical head injuries: no paper work, no questions, no nothing but care, excellent care. When we arrived, we were told not to worry about any financial concerns. “We are here to take care of your child.” Total cost: $25 dollars. She continues to paint in the footsteps of Cezanne.

Coda: When Meridith first visited Cezanne’s studio in Aix en Provence, the curator was struck by Mimi’s awe and asked her to return in a couple days to talk. (Incidentally, there were no ropes to keep visitors away from everything: his bag, brushes, easel, everything.) When Mimi returned to her apartment we asked her about her talk. “She gave me a key and told me to come anytime to do my painting in the studio.”

24 million. Ropes to keep us away from everything. Get rid of the National Endowment for the Arts. Take a selfie with your microwave. Now as pass by those such as this man, I wonder . . .


But He Loved His Dog

Wednesday was trash day so he pulled
the garbage can to the curb. There
was never that much in it. Sometimes
he stood there for a few minutes, looking
down when a car drove by, looking up
at the trees in the yard across the street.

No one really knew if he knew anyone.
He had a dog. It wasn’t much of a dog.
It was an old dog, a mix too mixed
to know what all might be there. He
told someone once, “Oh I suppose
there has to be some beagle, maybe
some German shepherd.” Each noon
he walked the dog down to the corner,
left on Maple Avenue, three blocks
to the park where they would stop and

he would sit on a bench under a Beech
that had been hollowing out for years.
The dog lay at his feet, once in a while
lifted its head and sniffed. He never read
or talked except to say, “What do you
think of this day, boy?” and the dog
would wag its tail across the gravel path.

He would sit for most of the afternoon,
then tug on the dog’s leash and they
would walk on through the park, then
back home. He would bring in the mail,
toss it away. When the evening’s light
began drawing its shadow across his porch,
he would turn on the radio, open a window,
and sit outside, with his dog, listening
to the classical music station and the cicadas.

–Jack Ridl

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8 thoughts on “But He Loved His Dog

  1. When we don’t see the man and his dog; When we don’t talk to the cashier at Hardings, the mail lady, or the guy coming in to fix the boiler; when we don’t sit in an emergency room for hours, dig weeds with a kid working his way through college or bring a sick friend lunch and a pile of library books, we don’t have the down to earth joy of living in a rich patch of human connection and generosity. A thriving community works together so that no one goes hungry or lacks shelter or job training or healthcare. That way everyone is enriched.

    • Marsha, what you wrote is a poem, a very very important poem.
      I hope many many many get to read it. Post it. Its great good
      heart is needed.

  2. Hi Jack, perfect…Everybody probably has heard this, but it was a slogan on the wall of one of my co-workers…”I want to grow up to be the kind of person that my dog thinks I am…”Blessings, bill h

  3. Greetings

    Loved the poem and truly appreciated your personal story…

    I often sit on my deck during the summer nights with my dog Sophie who smells slightly of old angry skunk and smokiness from the neighbor’s burn pile, listening to the frogs or cicadas and enjoying the last dance of the NC mountain fireflies; soaking in the stars above the wooded dark…

    I’m currently staying with Meredith and Mac in Pensacola as they are kindly providing caregiving while I recover from knee replacement surgery…I’m in good hands…

    Regards, David Jensen – Class of ’74

    • David,
      That description is beautifully lyrical! I was there, right there, with ya.
      Thanks for your kind words. They help this heart!
      I’m putting off knee surgery and it’s driving Julie crazy! : )
      Give dear Meredith and Mac our love. I love thinking of three such
      good souls together.
      Oh, and yes, our dogs, oh how much we need/love our dogs!

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