Sparkman was a big, black, burly mutt

born and bred in Montague whose days

were spent on a fishing boat rounding

up flapping squid, escorting lobsters

to their bin.

The vet called him a 57 variety Heinz.

I preferred to think of him as a mix

of Wolfhound and Labrador.

A melancholy soul who may have been

a bit bipolar, he couldn’t get enough

of being petted, nudging you with a head butt

reminder to pet some more.

His big brown eyes looked forlorn, stuck to me

like crazy glue, chasing my bike for miles

ignoring commands to “go home!”

He tried to speak in a lamentable whine

like old Preston’s utterances who lived

down the lane, born with a spastic brain.

When the wind of the sea got into his bones,

excited by a flock of screeching gulls

he’d take off in a manic sprint racing down

the beach from Sturgeon Bay to Gaspereaux.

A gentleman who never lunged for food

on the table, but would chase a squirrel

breaking its neck with a crunching bite.

He lived with me for eighteen years,

never complained until he couldn’t stand up.

When pain made it time to put him down,

salt tears ran own both our noses.

I tried in vain to explain, shaking his paw,

squeezing it tight; his palpable tremor of fright

pierced my heart.

I’ll never forget his imploring look as I carried

him to the shelter to enter his dark night.

He seemed to ask:

“Are you sure we have to do this now?