I Believe in the Barking Dog



for Harley, a one of a kind dog, may he rest in peace

I believe in the barking dog. He keeps me awake for a reason. He digs holes and jumps fences. He wags his tail without shame and cares not what he knocks over with his happiness. He smells things I don’t want to and when he smiles, the smile is pure, never hiding guilt, always a joyful expression.

I believe in the barking dog. He sleeps in the sun and shade. Sometimes when I call to him, he just looks at me with disbelief. Other times he scampers to my side. But always when I am sad, he is there licking my face. If I ignore him, he slaps my arm with his paw, then licks the scratch he dug into my skin.

I believe in the barking dog. He warns me of danger. The spark in his eye is constant, even when he is tired or sad. He does not need much, some food and water, a pat on the head, a walk down the lane. When he is concerned, the hair on his back stands up. When he rolls onto his back to show me his belly, I know he believes in me. Sometimes he slobbers on my pillow or steals the blankets and looks curiously at me while I scold him. I know he dreams by the way he moans at night, though he never seems to want to share them with me. I like the sound of his toe nails on the wood floor, how they click a message as he patrols the house at night.

I believe in the barking dog. He has sharp teeth that could kill me and a heart that knows nothing of such evil. He thinks I am a better person than I am, no matter what I do. He feels his life clearly. I think he knows that dog is god spelled backwards, but I can tell by his big grin that sometimes he thinks it’s the other way around.

Mark Holmgren copyright  2020

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