Another Lesson from the Dog
May 17, 2021
Be Free, Brycie
August 26, 2021

Service Dog Haiku

The only time my service dog isn’t beside me–or at the very least in the same room—is when I’m out on a bike ride. My service husband captains the tandem, which means I’m in back pedaling while he pedals, too, in addition to steering, braking and checking the GPS. I trade a blocked view in front for the opportunity to let my eyes and thoughts wander.

It makes for a prime setting for a haiku to formulate. Words gather in my head as we ride. I take in the scenery and allow it to mix with my mood while the pedal stroke sets a rhythm to fit the poem’s five-seven-five beat. Here’s one now that popped up just thinking about a ride:

From the rear seat of
A bicycle built for two
I count syllables

Renee Le Verrier

Lately, my service dog has spent more time beside me at home—as close as he can get. He needs comfort and regular snacks—the illness has stolen his energy and the meds render him incessantly hungry. I still think it’s the start of a really bad joke, ‘Lady with Parkinson’s and her service dog with cancer walk into a bar…’ Leaving him for a bike ride is both easier—he sleeps a lot—and more difficult—he doesn’t feel well and wants mom nearby. So, rather than a big vacation, we took a staycation this week and rode a loop on a neighboring island.

The haiku came quickly, around mile three. After toggling between two endings off and on for the next twenty miles, I still couldn’t decide on which last line to choose.

Along coastal route
Oil refinery mars view
But for mountain peaks

Renee Le Verrier

Along  coastal route
Oil refinery mars view
But onshore, herons

Renee Le Verrier

Back home, I sat beside Bryce. He didn’t mind that I was still sweaty and closed in for a hug. He’s the mountain peak, still there, still breathtaking despite the sooty cancer. Ending number one.

One hand on Bryce and another on my phone, I eyed a pic of a litter of pups. One of them is very likely to come home soon to start his training as my next service dog. No wonder I can’t decide one ending to the haiku. I’ve been toggling between sorrow and grief, hoping for as little pain as possible for Brycen and at the same time filled with appreciation for what’s right in front of me. Like the herons. Ending number two.

Beauty and gratitude. Mountain-sized, cancerous dog and promising pup. I’m keeping both to the end and both poem endings.

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