Thursday, 19 August 2021

Thanks to Carol at The Apples in My Orchard for hosting Poetry Friday today. Stop by her blog for this week’s tasty poetry links!

This is a post about dogs.

You’ve all gotten to know the Shovan family dogs over the years — anxious Sam the schnauzer and his very best friend, Rudy the (goofy, lovable) beagle.

But it’s also a post about poetry.

Available at

I am a huge fan of Laura Purdie SalasA Leaf Can Be series of nature poetry books. Today, I am going to shamelessly borrow from Laura, with sincere apologies!

After Rudy passed away in December, we adopted a new beagle for Sam, six-year-old Arthur. Arthur is an even-tempered, sweet boy. He and Sam make a good pair. After grieving for Rudy, 14-year-old Sam has been enjoying a happy summer with his new sibling.

We weren’t sure that Sam would accept another dog. Then along came Arthur!

But Sam’s age is showing.

He’s starting to have more bad days than good, eating less, stretching out in the secret garden’s sunny lawn more.

Tonight, he was outside and too weak to walk back in. Although Sam is decidedly NOT a lapdog (thank you very much), he let me carry him inside.

So today, I wrote an ode to Sam — to all dogs, really — in the style of A Leaf Can Be.



A Dog Can Be
By Laura Shovan (after Laura Purdie Salas)

A dog is a dog,
be she pug, poodle, westie.
Whether schnauzer or shepherd,
he’s your fun, furry bestie.

A dog can be a…

fetch player

mud collector
door protector

rabbit chaser
tears eraser

sock stealer
heart healer.

A dog is a dog,
be he senior or pup.
Now go find your doggie
and snuggle her up!

Wow… I am already imagining writing “School Can Be” or “Friends Can Be” or “A Bee Can Be” as a class poem with students!

Please send good wishes to our sweet Sammy, Poetry Friday friends.

Sammy enjoying the secret garden last fall.

45 responses to “Poetry Friday: A Dog Can Be”

  1. Love this poem–sock stealer/heart healer perfectly sums up the trials and joy of life with a pooch. Sending your senior pal Sam good thoughts.

  2. Randi Sonenshine says:

    Love this! Love Laura’s books, too. Sending good thoughts for your sweet Sammy.

  3. Linda Mitchell says:

    Yes, a dog can be all of that and more. We are still missing our most wonderful Dinah dog who passed this summer after 13 years of life devoted to our family. We will get a new dog…after some house renovation. But, I really do want to snuggle up to a dog.

    • Laura Shovan says:

      I’m so sorry, Linda. There is a certain kind of grief when you lose an animal companion. We’ve had some pets live into old age like Sam and others who left too soon.

  4. I love this! I need to write more dog poems. Charlie, my schnoodle, will be 14 in a few weeks and he has developed a heart murmur. It’s tugging at my heart strings that he is getting old. I love how each stanza has an active (sock stealer) and an emotional (heart healer) line. A great mentor text for my students. (Yes, we are back in school.)

    • Laura Shovan says:

      I’d love to read some poems about Charlie. Sam has a heart murmur too — he always has, but there’s a watch on it now.

      I’ve been thinking about how great Laura’s structure would be for writing a group poem with kids. If you try it, let me know how it goes.

  5. Elisabeth says:

    I’m so sorry to hear this Laura!

    We had a poodle and a westie (loved that they’re together in your poem 🙂 that were “sisters,” and when we had to say goodbye to the Westie, we eventually got another Westie, a sweet 11-year-old whose owner had to go into nursing care. She was a sweet and gentle companion (roommate, not a sister 😉 in the poodle’s last years.

    Love your poem – it brings back sweet (if teary) memories of our three sweet girls who loved us and let us love them before we had to say goodbye. Heartfelt good wishes for Sam and your family.

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Thanks, Elisabeth. We’ve already been through a huge loss this year with Rudy. It’s been a gift to see Sam into old age, though his decline is hard. Now that we are a two-dog family, it’s hard to imagine having just one. I’m so glad to hear that you adopted a senior pup. I have a soft spot for th em!

  6. Linda Baie says:

    I am missing having a dog and your poem brings them all back in my memories, Laura. I am sorry Sam is not doing well, have always loved when you write about him & the long story of dear Rudy. I love Laura P-S’s book series like A Leaf Can Be, too, & you’ve added a loving poem. “tears eraser” is so perfect!

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Thanks for visiting, Linda. I’ve been revising Rudy’s story for a longer project!

      I remember that feeling, especially in childhood, of crying into a dog or cat’s comforting fur. They are able to be present in a very special way.

  7. Such sweet dogs and such good rhyming in your poem! All the things that a dog can be ring true, certainly for your pups.

  8. Tabatha says:

    Love your poem, Laura — lots of heart and accuracy in it. We have been dogsitting a senior dog this week. She tries to keep up with our pups, even though her back legs are wonky. It tugs at the heartstrings. Thinking of you and Sam.

  9. Laura Salas says:

    This is so lovely, Laura! I especially love the tears eraser. Sending healthy thoughts of ease to Sam. It’s hard when the bad days start to outnumber the good. Hugs to you both!

  10. Laura, I love your doggie story and dog poem. It dances along on its rhythm and what kid (or person for that matter) doesn’t love a dog. I am sure Laura Purdie Salas was honored to have you emulate her. We have a yellow lab who is two now. We love her endlessly. I’ve only written a few haiku about her. I’ll have to try to write more. This/you inspired me today! Thanks.

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Thank you, Carol. I’m glad you found inspiration here. I love the rhythm of Laura’s “A Leaf Can Be” nature poetry books. Having a structure helped me write when my emotions felt too big.

  11. How incredible it is that out of your sadness about your loss of Rudy and Sam’s aging, you were able to create such a joyful poem. My daughter’s dog is a wicked sock stealer!

  12. Love the story of your dogs. And the poem, so much love and play in it. I hope Sammy has a good weekend, It’s hard to have our pets age on us,
    And the robots arrived. Thank you!

  13. It’s a wonderful form, isn’t it? Is the rhyming harder or easier in this one, I wonder…Your adventures in the secret garden with all your animal (and vegetable) friends are delightful. I’m sorry to hear that Sam is poorly. Thinking of you.

  14. Mary Lee says:

    I know you must be starting to pre-grieve the inevitable loss of Sam. You have so many good memories and he is securely anchored to your heart. Your poem put LPS’s “form” to perfect use…and you’re right, now that you’ve borrowed it, the possibilities seem endless!

    Sending best wishes for Sam and his whole family.

  15. Oh, this whole thing touched my heart, Laura — the post, your sweet pups, the poem, all of it. It’s hard to see our beloved pets age and I’m so sorry you lost Rudy suddenly a while back. I’m relating to the slower good-bye with Sam as our 13-yr. old Blue Heeler/Border Collie is showing her age and my sister’s three Yorkies are feeling their 13 years on the planet, too. Thanks for this. Hugs!

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Hi, Karen. Thanks for stopping by. I have so much love and fondness for the senior dogs. I’d adopt them all if I could! I hope your pup and your sisters are enjoying their golden years.

  16. Molly Hogan says:

    I love your sweet poem and how beautifully you used Laura’s books as a mentor. You’ve really captured the essence of opening your home and hearts to a dog. Enjoy your time with your sweet Sam. It sounds like he’s had a summer of love and companionship, a blessing for sure.

  17. Laura, I have been following your posts on FB but this is the first I heard of your new poem. It is a fun way and I like the following lines:: tears erase and hearts healer. My family could not have any pets because of my husband’s allergies but we love to see our friend’s cat and dogs. They all seem so friendley.

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Hi, Carol. We have always had a cat or a(and for a short time, a hamster). My daughter is allergic to cats, but has always done great with our Schnauzer. They don’t have an undercoat, which helps.

  18. Oh what a wonderful Ode poem for Sammy, so many feel-good, heartfelt lines in there! Sending hugs and kisses, and hopeful thoughts for Sammy. My family dog, when I was growing up was part schnauzer-poodle-sheep dog, and maybe more—but boy did I love him!!!

  19. Good wishes sent to sweet Sam. Dog poems and posts are the best, Laura. “tears eraser” for sure. 🙂

  20. Now go find your doggie
    and snuggle her up!
    Happiness always to the Shovan family and their furry besties, Laura. My thoughts are with you at this time.

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Laura Shovan

Laura Shovan is the author of the award-winning middle grade novel, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary. Her second book, Takedown, is a Junior Library Guild and PJ Our Way selection. Look for A Place at the Table, co-written with Saadia Faruqi, in 2020. Laura is a poet-in-the-schools Maryland.

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