Brendan Beary


Cave Canem

Otis was a rescue; he was loving, he was kind,
But he wasn’t without problems, and they weren’t hard to find.
An accident he’d suffered to his pelvis and his nerves
Had left him with some difficulties no good dog deserves:
He was clumsy taking stairs; he couldn’t wag his tail in greeting;
But worst of all, he seemed befuddled by his own excreting.
When I would take him walking and he’d try to mark a spot,
He’d stand in some confusion—”Am I going? Am I not?”
And rising every morning called for watching where one stepped
Since he’d likely decorated stairs or carpets while we slept.
But he sat there so forlornly that it seemed he sought to say,
“You know, I very nearly almost made it out today.”

The scooping poops and blotting rugs were all an inconvenience,
But we knew he couldn’t help it, so we granted him some lenience.
He had some other problems, so his time with us was brief,
And I can’t deny his passing brought some measure of relief.
We felt the pang of loss, but still it simplified our days
With fewer paper towels and rug-deodorizing sprays.
So now, fast forward several months since we had lost our hound,
And my wife picked up the urge to move the furniture around.
She yelped—and as I hurried in, I saw what had occurred,
For beneath the large recliner lay a fossil Otis turd!
And dumbstruck, we just marveled—half in wonder, half aghast—
At this ocher orb of ordure, like a ghost of Christmas past.

As we gazed on it in wonder, my imagination reeled
With his how and why of placing it, so expertly concealed.
Had he known his end was coming, and in this way had prepared
With his own memento mori (in this case, memento merde)?
Some answers we will never know, but this much I can say:
He had marked his territory in one final, fecal way.
“Should we maybe snap a picture?” joked my wife, as we both laughed.
And perhaps you’ll think it schmaltzy, and you’ll surely think me daft,
But a sense of joy washed over me while cleaning up that cack,
As though, for just that minute, we had gotten Otis back.

To lose the ones you love so well, you’ll find it to be true:
You will even grow nostalgic for the shit they put you through.


Brendan Beary lives in Maryland. His works have appeared in Lighten Up Online, 14×14, The Spectator, and The Washington Post. He is, in general, loath to write about himself in the third person.