Walking the Creek with Dogs

We were walking in Douglas the other day with new pup, Vivian, and a couple stopped to “talk dogs.” One of the women said, “These days, my dear dog has done something so wonderful for me, and she of course doesn’t know it. She says nothing about how terrible things are. And I talk to her as I always do, but a different feeling comes, a kind of quiet comforting feeling.”

Walking the Creek with Dogs

“I do not think all dogs are angels. In fact, I don’t think any are.”
–Jeanne Schinto in The Literary Dog

Mine are. Muddy
angels, slopping
their way ahead of me.
I have to watch
my every step.
They head on, tails
wagging like assurances
that this is happiness.
Nothing in their heaven
is pure, just a twisting
creek, sand, rock,
rotting logs. Sometimes
they catch something
in the air’s great mix
of scents, and they
veer, soaked, up
the bank, dripping
and sniffing into the
loosestrife, milkweed,
sassafras, and thistle.
I hear only the snap
of a stick or their soft
rustle through the mat
of grasses. Then they
are back, splashing
through the water,
stopping only to shake.
I slap at a deer fly,
feel August on my neck..
They carry their thick
coats on down the creek.

–Jack Ridl

First published in Blackwater Review
Voices Along the River Anthology, 2001


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Visit Roan & Black and Cabbages & Kings and Reader’s World to find Jack’s books in West Michigan.

Click here to subscribe to receive Jack’s poems and news in your inbox.

Click here for Jack’s entire collection, In Time — poems for the current administration.

Click here to watch Jack’s TedX talk.

And, of course, click here to visit ridl.com, check out what Jack’s been up to, maybe say hi!

16 thoughts on “Walking the Creek with Dogs

  1. Just got back from running our two perk-eared-fur-beasties down by the river. They are happy, mud-footed messes (as is the kitchen, now….) and everyone glows with an early winter attention of chill. Read your poem, and am feeling the rightness of this day. Thank you!

    • The dance of our dogs! I am beaming as I think of your being joyful in the muddy messiness, the goooooood muddy messiness of it all.
      You have made us glow too!

  2. What a wonderful surprise to come back and read after watching my two Shephards romp with joy through the fields this morning.

  3. Something unidentifiable (but gross in this human’s estimation) in the leaves, what looks to have been pumpkin on the alley, crushed egg shells that didn’t make it to a trash container in a pocket park, and a mysterious white and yellow substance, in the middle of a street, that required a tug-of-war between beagle and me worthy of The Pull, these were the major smells that Pudge encountered on our walk this afternoon. What a delight to return and read this wonderful poem!

    • Ahhhh our dear dogs who an smell the lovely in the most officious of offal !

      So glad you found the poem to be wonderful, Betsy. Gosh, how I’d love to see ya!

  4. Jack, this is so beautiful; so peaceful. Thank you for this interlude! I’m off to walk the trail and look for all the places that the turtles waited last summer. What a beautiful day we have been given! Blessings to you and to all,


  5. We have the 79 lb. and the 6 lb. variety here, an Aussie and a tiny Shit-zu (?) Pomeranian mix. With the woods and the lake on all sides, they do require my daughter’s grooming shop periodically. How I loved this poem. Tom and I just were talking that in 61 years of marriage we have never been without a dog! They are in touch with our souls, we believe.

    • Julie, you are soooooo right: they indeed are in touch with our souls.
      We, too, have never been without a dog. What they create is something
      that only they can create, and it’s day after day redemptive.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s