I didn’t even notice
for a long time
that Maizey
is loyal to me.
She’s a very needy dog.
When you are stopped,
sitting or standing,
she silently appears at your side –
everyone’s side, eventually –
and raises her paw
and lowers it onto your leg or arm
asking for you to pet her.
She is relentless.
Even if you pet her
a long time,
when you stop
you get pawed again
or,
if you’re sitting or standing in a group
and petting her,
when you stop
she moves on to the next person.
Because she is so needy for affection,
I never thought of her
as giving.

The first time I saw her eyes
shine in my car lights
from the middle of the road
in front of the house
as I returned home at night
it seemed that she was and her son Joe
were waiting for me.
How arrogant of me,
I thought.
But they’re usually in the road waiting
when I return home at night.
When I’m outside on the porch,
she curls up in a chair beside me
or on the floor near me.
Recently,
when I went out to write on the porch
she and Joe were resting in the wicker chairs.
I stood before them and asked that one of them move.
Without my moving toward either of them,
Maizey climbed down from the chair
and moved to another at the other end of the porch.
When we take walks,
Joe runs ahead to explore
and though Maizey used to,
but she doesn’t anymore.
Instead, she stays right beside me as we walk
and when I stop to explore or observe
she waits.
She attends to me silently
and in these circumstances
she doesn’t ask to be petted.
She just waits,
sits,
walks.
I suspect it was she
who brought one of the chickens she and Joe killed –
my favorite chicken
although I don’t know how she could know that –
over to my house to show me
that she’s a good bird dog.

Of late,
I have realized that this aging, graying mamma dog
who was dropped on the farm years ago
before I returned to live here
is loyal to me.
Maybe she’s taken on the role as companion
that was vacated
when Kye died.
I am deeply grateful
that she has become my caring friend.

Our Shadows