The beautiful specimen of a dog in the photo is my good friends Steve and Martha York’s Weimaraner Ponder on the dock of their vacation home on Nolin Lake, Kentucky. Martha, knowing how I had written poetry often about our late great Chocolate Lab Boomer, let me know that Ponder had died peacefully at the wise old age of fifteen. That’s about 135 in human years. She said Steve had posted on Face Book the photo along with a few comments about the remarkable dog. Below is Steve’s note to me along with his Face Book remarks and a poem by Lord Byron sent to Steve and Martha by a mutual friend of ours John Galvin.
Bob, Martha said you wanted to see what I wrote on Face Book about the death of our wonderful Weimaraner, Ponder. We got him as a 6-week old pup and treasured him (most of the time) for 15 years. There were those occasions when he was a pup that we wanted to kill him; like when he chewed a hole in the middle of an imported living room rug and when he ate one of my brand new shoes…and the time when I walked through the front door, coming home from work with a delicious coconut cream pie in my hands, and he jumped up on me and knocked the pie to the floor! But most of the time he was a gentle, loving dog who just wanted to be near us. He was a member of the family. And we will miss him terribly.
Early this morning our 5-year-old granddaughter, Harriet, came down the stairs, bringing us a drawing she had just made of Ponder and her. She told me she was sad, but said we would always have Ponder in our memories. How true. I have also attached the photo that was posted on FB; one of our favorites of Ponder, standing on our dock at Nolin Lake.
Here’s what was on my FB page:
Feeling sad today after saying a heartfelt goodbye to our Ponder. For fifteen years he loved us unconditionally. He was a tireless swimmer, a chaser of rabbits and wild turkeys, an occasional food thief, a lover of children and our constant companion. A gentle spirit, he was named in honor of Ponder, winner of the 1949 Kentucky Derby. And like his namesake, he was a thoroughbred- a real champion.
Our mutual good friend, John Galvin, sent me this poem. I thought you might enjoy reading it.
George Gordon Byron
Epitaph To a Dog
Near this spot
Are deposited the Remains
Who possessed Beauty
Strength without Insolence,
Courage without Ferocity,
And all the Virtues of Man
Without his Vices.
The Price, which would be unmeaning flattery
If inscribed over Human Ashes,
Is but a just tribute to the Memory of
“Boatswain,” a Dog
Who was born at Newfoundland,
And died in Newstead Abbey,
Nov. 18, 1808.
When some proud son of man returns to earth,
Unknown by glory, but upheld by birth,
The sculptor’s art exhausts the pomp of woe,
And stories urns record that rests below.
When all is done, upon the tomb is seen,
Not what he was, but what he should have been.
But the poor dog, in life the firmest friend,
The first to welcome, foremost to defend,
Whose honest heart is still his master’s own,
Who labors, fights, lives, breathes for him alone,
Unhonored falls, unnoticed all his worth,
Denied in heaven the soul he held on earth –
While man, vain insect! hopes to be forgiven,
And claims himself a sole exclusive heaven.
Oh man! thou feeble tenant of an hour,
Debased by slavery, or corrupt by power –
Who knows thee well must quit thee with disgust,
Degraded mass of animated dust!
Thy love is lust, thy friendship all a cheat,
Thy smiles hypocrisy, thy words deceit!
By nature vile, ennoble but by name,
Each kindred brute might bid thee blush for shame.
Ye, who perchance behold this simple urn,
Pass on – it honors none you wish to mourn.
To mark a friend’s remains these stones arise;
I never knew but one – and here he lies.
Lord Byron’s tribute to “Boatswain,” on a monument in the garden of Newstead Abbey.