Bella - Went to the Bridge on 26th January 2011

These poems are about Bella, an elderly rescue Staffie with a terminal condition. Andrea took her on in 2010 and hopes they may help people consider adopting older dogs and dogs with terminal illnesses

'Someone Came'.

Someone came over to see me today,
She patted and stroked me and offered to play,
She spoke to the staff and had a nice stay,
Then it started to rain, and she went away.

I do understand it, I realise you see,
Nobody wants an old Staffie like me
My lumps and my bumps have a tale to tell,
That deep in my body, all is not well.

My ears do not hear now, my eyes are quite dim,
My muzzle is grey, there's a lump on my chin,
There's less years in front than there have been behind,
The days slip on by, and time is unkind.

So I return to my kennel, hide from the rain,
And wonder if anyone will ever come again
It's been nine long months I've been waiting here,
Precious time wasting, and mine is so dear.

Soon the snow starts to fall, I begin to feel ill,
I lie in my bed, very quiet and still,
Not wanting to move or go out in the cold,
And suddenly my years make me feel very old.

The staff are concerned, they treat me with care,
I've been here so long, they all love me there,
Christmas is close now, decorations are out,
Blessings are given and hope is about.

Up in the office, just over the way,
Someone is calling - how am I today?
She rings every morning, but I do not know
That she's thinking of me, out here in the snow.

Two days before Christmas, but to me it's the same,
As my kennel maid enters, calling my name,
I bark her my greeting, behind her I see
A face I remember - you came to see me....

Someone came over to see me today,
She kissed me and hugged me and said I could stay
With her in her home, and with her family
I'll have love and devotion for as long as can be.

I'll miss all the staff here, but I simply can't stay,
This old Staffie is off to her new home today.             By Andrea Westwood.

'My Old Staffie and Me'.

We sit in the sunshine
Content as can be,
Here in our garden,
My old Staffie and me.

The boys are at school now,
We've nowhere to be,
Just here on the grass,
My old Staffie and me.

We lie on the grass,
You press against me,
Your weight brings me comfort,
My old Staffie and me.

The years have rolled on,
You're as grey as can be,
A loyal life well lived,
My old Staffie and me.

My hand rests on your heart,
As strong as can be,
Full of family and friends,
My old Staffie and me.

You narrow your eyes,
Rest your head on my knee,
And we are replete,
My soulmate and me.           By Andrea Westwood.


Should I have known you when you were young?
No grey on your muzzle, your body still strong,
Eyes keenly searching, ears pricked up high,
To catch every moment as life rushed on by.

Should I have known you in your middle years?
Youthfulness tempered by life's laughter and tears,
Character mellowed and experience won,
Content now to snooze in the afternoon sun.

No, I will know you near your life's end,
I'll reach out my hand to help you, my friend.
Your eyes barely see now, your ears do not hear,
Your old legs are stiff, lumps and bumps have appeared.

Do I feel cheated, that I missed your youth?
Hand on my heart, I will tell you the truth -
Someone else had the pleasure of your youthful glee,
But the best of your years have been given to me.             By Andrea Westwood.


"Her eyes met mine as she walked down the corridor peering
apprehensively into the kennels.
I felt her need instantly and knew I had to help her.
I wagged my tail, not too exuberantly, so she wouldn’t be afraid.
As she stopped at my kennel I blocked her view from a little accident I had in the back of my cage.
I didn’t want her to know that I hadn’t been walked today.
Sometimes the shelter keepers get too busy and I didn’t want her to think poorly of them.
As she read my kennel card I hoped that she wouldn’t feel sad about my past.
I only have the future to look forward to and want to make a difference in someone’s life.
She got down on her knees and made little kissy sounds at me.
I shoved my shoulder and side of my head up against the bars to comfort her.
Gentle fingertips caressed my neck; she was desperate for companionship.
A tear fell down her cheek and I raised my paw to assure her that all would be well.
Soon my kennel door opened and her smile was so bright that I instantly jumped into her arms.
I would promise to keep her safe.
I would promise to always be by her side.
I would promise to do everything I could to see that radiant smile and sparkle in her eyes.
I was so fortunate that she came down my corridor.
So many more are out there who haven’t walked the corridors.
So many more to be saved.
At least I could save one.

I rescued a human today.”


Through the Eyes of a Puppy Farm Dog

My body is trembling with cold and fear
the ground beneath me hard stone,
my bones protrude from my body
I have never felt so alone.
As I slowly raise my head up
and look at the filth I'm in,
any hope that I once had
is disappearing from deep within.
Being trapped in a tiny cage
24 hours a day,
I lay in my own excrement
my skin is black and grey.
Any hair that I have left
is matted and stuck to my skin,
I have no choice but to live like this
I am so weak and thin.
Sometimes you offer me a titbit
and call me to come to you,
I refuse out of sheer terror
because you'll beat me black and blue.
You only want to breed from me
so you'll be stinking rich,
not giving a damn about me
because I'm just a breeding bitch.
If I'm lucky I get some scraps
which I eat as quickly as I can,
scared you'll take it away from me
I've learned to never trust a man.
Why do you treat me so cruel
when I'm such a gentle breed,
is money really so important
that you abuse me for your greed?
I have feelings too
and a heart, spirit and soul,
I am so desperately unhappy
stuck in this dark depressing hole.
I've had so many babies for you
which you will sell for cash,
when they're barely eight weeks old
you remove them in a flash.
My heart breaks in pieces
knowing I'll never see them again,
you men are so heartless
you'll never understand my pain.
Because pain is what I go through
each and every day,
not only from losing my babies
but the punches you throw my way.
Hands or sticks it makes no odds
when you beat my body of its breath,
how I wish I could close my eyes
because I would welcome death.
It's not just me that lives like this
hundreds more share this fate,
how I long for someone to rescue us
before it is just too late.
I long for a home I can call my own
and for a family who will love me,
to show me warmth and lots of love
is where I long to be.
I promise I'd be very good
I won't piddle on your floor,
when I need to do my business
I'll wait patiently by your door.
I promise to keep intruders at bay
I'll scare them off with a bark,
all I'm really asking for is some food
and a stroll in the park.
I'd love to have my tummy tickled
and a scratch behind my ear,
with lots of love and patience
I will gradually lose my fear.
And when we go for walkies
I will be as good as gold,
so happy to be free at last
far away from pain and cold.
I'll return your love and kindness
in the way us dogs know best,
I'll be your faithful companion
I will be your perfect guest.

Rebecca Brown - 22 February 2007

Through the Eyes of a Three-legged Dog

I've been here a month now
and people walk on by,
not bothering to look at me
it makes me wonder why?

Because I am quite cute really
although I'm missing a leg,
but I am so well behaved
that I don't even beg.

I see all my friends around me
being re-homed one by one,
yet still no-one picks me
whatever have I done?

Perhaps people think I'm ugly
and not worth taking home,
I just wish someone would
because I hate it here alone.

I really try my hardest
when you humans walk on by,
I plead with my big brown eyes
I really really try.

I wag my tail to a frenzy
hoping that you will pick me,
just because I'm missing a leg
that's all you seem to see.

Well, please look past my flaws
which really aren't my fault,
see that I am smooth coated
so that I won't even moult.

I'm not that big either
so I won't take up much room,
oh I wish someone would pick me
and really rather soon.

I'd love to play ball with you
and I'd drop it at your feet,
I promise to never growl
I'd be friendly to all we meet.

Just because I have three legs
you don''t have to be extra kind,
I have got used to it now
and I really don''t mind.

I just wish I'd get chosen
to spend my life with you,
plenty of life in this old dog
and I'm good at tricks too.

I won't ask for much
just somewhere to lay my head,
preferably with a nice blanket
to make a nice soft comfy bed.

I'm not too keen on cats
but I promise I won't eat yours,
and as long as I have a bone
I won't chew through your doors

I won't roll in anything smelly
because I really hate a bath,
if only someone would take me on
I'd really make you laugh.

Because I'm such a character
and I'm only six years old,
please take me home with you
I have a heart of gold?..

One Week Later

Today I had the best surprise
all my dreams have come true,
standing in front of me
was an angel dressed in blue.

The lovely lady standing there,
didn't mind my missing leg,
come on boy, let's go home
I am your new mum, Meg

Rebecca Brown, March 2007

May I Go?

May I go now?
Do you think the time is right?
May I say goodbye to pain filled days
and endless lonely nights?
I've lived my life and done my best,
an example tried to be.
So can I take that step beyond
and set my spirit free?
I didn't want to go at first,
I fought with all my might.
But something seems to draw me now
to a warm and loving light.
I want to go. I really do
It's difficult to stay.
But I will try as best I can
to live just one more day.
To give you time to care for me
and share your love and fears.
I know you're sad and afraid,
because I see your tears.
I'll not be far, I promise that,
and hope you'll always know
that my spirit will be close to you
wherever you may go.
Thank you so much for loving me.
You know I love you, too.
That's why it's hard to say goodbye
and end this life with you.
So hold me now just one more time
and let me hear you say,
because you care so much for me,
you'll let me go today.

Love is Knowing When

You're giving me a special gift,
So sorrowfully endowed,
And through these last few cherished days,
Your courage makes me proud.
But really, love is knowing when
your best friend is in pain,
And understanding earthly acts
Will only be in vain.
So looking deep into your eyes,
Beyond, into your soul,
I see in you the magic that will
Once more make me whole.
The strength that you possess,
Is why I look to you today,
To do this thing that must be done,
For it's the only way.
That strength is why I've followed you,
And chose you as my friend,
And why I've loved you all these years...
My partner till the end.
Please, understand just what this gift
You're giving, means to me,
It gives me back the strength I've lost,
And all my dignity.
You take a stand on my behalf,
For that is what friends do.
And know that what you do is right,
For I believe it, too.
So one last time, I breathe your scent,
And through your hand I feel,
The courage that's within you,
To grant me this appeal.
Cut the leash that holds me here,
Dear friend, and let me run,
Once more a strong and steady dog,
My pain and struggle done.
And don't despair my passing,
For I won't be far away,
Forever here, within your heart,
And memory I'll stay.
I'll be there watching over you,
Your ever-faithful friend,
And in your memories I'll run,
... a young dog once again
~ anonymous ~

"I'll lend you for a little time a dog of mine" he said.
"For you to love while he lives and mourn for when he's dead".
It maybe six or seven years or maybe more than these, but will you, till I
call him back, take care of him for me?
He'll bring his charm to gladden you, and should his stay be brief, you'll
have his memories, as solace for your grief.
I cannot promise he will stay, since all from earth return, but there are
lessons taught down there, I want this dog to learn.
I've looked this wide world over, in my search for teachers true, and from
the throngs that crowd life's lanes, I have selected you.
Now will you give him all your love, nor think the labour vain, nor hate me
when I come to call, and take him back again'
I fancied that I heard them say "Dear Lord, thy will be done", for all the
joy thy dog shall bring, for the risk of grief we'll run.
We'll shelter him with tenderness, we'll love him while we may, and for the
happiness we've known, forever grateful stay.
But should the angels call for him, we'll brave the bitter grief that comes,
and try to understand.

Your Dog

The years go so very fast and before you know it that romping pup is old and grey muzzled and they have sat by our sides while we read, watch TV, and work on our computers. Every so often they come and lay their heads in our laps, toss our elbow with their muzzle or gaze into our eyes and wait for us to notice them. Take a moment now to commune. I am your dog, and I have a little something I'd like to whisper in your ear. I know that you humans lead busy lives. Some have to work, some have children to raise. It always seems like you are running here and running there, often much too fast, often never noticing the truly grand things in life. Look down at me now, while you sit there at your computer. See the way my dark brown eyes look at yours? They are slightly cloudy now. That comes with age. The gray hairs are beginning to ring my soft muzzle. You smile at me; I see love in your eyes. What do you see in mine? Do you see a spirit? A soul inside, who loves you as no other could in the world? A spirit that would forgive all trespasses of prior wrong doing for just a simple moment of your time? That is all I ask. To slow down, if even for a few minutes, to be with me. So many times you have been saddened by the words you read on that screen, of others of my kind, passing. Sometimes we die young and oh so quickly, sometimes so suddenly it wrenches your heart out of your throat. Sometimes, we age so slowly before your eyes that you may not even seem to know until the very end, when we look at you with grizzled muzzles and cataract clouded eyes. Still the love is always there, even when we must take that long sleep, to run free in a distant land. I may not be here tomorrow; I may not be here next week. Someday you will shed the water from your eyes, that humans have when deep grief fills their souls, and you will be angry at yourself that you did not have just "one more day" with me. Because I love you so, your sorrow touches my spirit and grieves me. We have NOW, together. So come, sit down here next to me on the floor, and look deep into my eyes. What do you see? If you look hard and deep enough we will talk, you and I, heart to heart. Come to me not as "alpha" or as "trainer" or even "Mom or Dad," come to me as a living soul and stroke my fur and let us look deep into one another's eyes and talk. I may tell you something about the fun of chasing a tennis ball, or I may tell you something profound about myself, or even life in general. You decided to have me in your life because you wanted a soul to share such things with. Someone very different from you, and here I am. I am a dog, but I am alive. I feel emotion, I feel physical senses, and I can revel in the differences of our spirits and souls. I do not think of you as a "Dog on two feet" - I know what you are and who you are. You are human, in all your quirkiness, and I love you still. Now, come sit with me, on the floor. Enter my world, and let time slow down if only for 15 minutes. Look deep into my eyes, and whisper into my ears. Speak with your heart, with your joy, and I will know your true self. We may not have tomorrow, but we do have today, and life is oh so very short. So please--come sit with me now and let us share these precious moments we have together.
- Love, on behalf of canines everywhere.
Your Dog."
Author Unknown

Treasured Friend
I lost a treasured friend today
The little dog who used to lay
Her gentle head upon my knee
And share her silent thoughts with me...
She'll come no longer to my call
Retrieve no more her favorite ball
A voice far greater than my own
Has called her to His golden throne.
Although my eyes are filled with tears,
I thank Him for the happy years
He let her spend down here with me
And for her love and loyalty.
When it is time for me to go
And join her there, this much I know...
I shall not fear the transient dark
For she will greet me with her bark.

Some Lovely Poems written by Joyce Stranger

There are shadows in my garden
That only I can see.
The dogs so gaily playing
That once belonged to me.
They run round in the sunshine.
They lie panting in the shade.
They are racing by the hedges.
They are chasing through the glade.
They come to me at nightfall,
They are lying by my chair.
Yet to other people,
There is only one dog there.
They are never forgotten.
Anglesey UK

Poems by Joyce


Money----who cares? It's gone with the wind. .
So what? I'm alive!
Passion----who dares. But you leave that behind.
So what? I'm alive.
I'm out with my dog and she's hunting the breeze
For news of the squirrels and birds in the trees.
Youth's far behind me, folk damned hard to please.
So what? I'm alive.
Time grows much shorter, the years far too few,
The days now are briefer, the hours fly past too.
I'm out when I can and I'm walking my dog.
No time to sit brooding or lie like a log.
Her days too are numbered and sadly I fear
That within a short span she'll no longer be here.
My time too is uncertain; I'll leave one fine day
And others take over----that's always the way.
Life's fast and it's furious and much of it's hell,
But now I can say and I mean it as well.
No matter what happens or how hard I strive,
I may be gone tomorrow. Today----I'm alive.
I'm alive.
That's all that matters. I'm alive.
Joyce Stranger
Anglesey UK

Autumn Years

I remember sounds and hoots and calls and whistles
And the gentle voice that praised me and taught me how to play.
I remember dog shows and the din of claps and laughter
And the soft commands she spoke to me to help me on my way.
It's strange those lips are silent although I see them moving
As if that mouth were speaking still, but what I cannot hear.
The world is quiet, the wind moves, yet I cannot hear it shrieking
The silent world around me has become a place to fear.
But she is still beside me, her soft hands stroke me gently,
They also give me signals and those I understand.
I creep up closely to her and lean against her, loving,
Because the only comfort is in that caressing hand.
The bond we forged between us, when I was but a puppy,
Has taught me I can trust her, and though I now am old,
She loves me still and needs me and when I come for stroking,
I know her hands will speak to me and the world is much less cold.
I can't understand the silence. I don't hear any barking.
Although I bark myself, it falls on quiet air.
This world I was born into is full of silent people
Who cannot understand me and who do not seem to care.
Once I was a puppy and people stroked and loved me.
Now they see me coming and cross the busy road.
I have to bear the silence, and how I miss their friendship,
But her loving hands caress me and help me bear this load.
Joyce Stranger.
Anglesey UK

The Mountain Rescue Dog

Yes, we bought you, long ago. There was so much we didn't know.
Crazy pup, racing the breeze, stop and sniff beneath the trees.
Puppy with so little sense. We never thought youd grow immense .
A year old dog with dancing eyes, every day a new surprise.
Bark at children, chase the cat,. destroy our shoes, and tear the mat.
Hooligan, so often bad. We say this dog will drive us mad.
Another year, and training school. You often made me look a fool.
Until the day we took our test and your great score outshone the rest.
Now our real work had begun. For me, a mission, for you, fun.
On the mountains, climbing steep. Concentrate, ignore the sheep.
Growing proficient, growing wise. Learning to use nose and eyes.
Often braving mountain danger hunting for an injured stranger.
Phone rings at night, we both arise. Helicopter takes us through the skies.
In freezing dark we start our quest, doing what we both do best.
So many times we make a friend, saved from an untimely end.
Mission over, our jobs done. We can relax and have some fun.
From my flask I take a drink, eat a sandwich, sit and think.
You climb above me, stand and stare, looking up into the air.
Maybe you can angels see. Visions they deny to me.
Down the mountain by my side, my special dog, my joy, my pride.
Never thought when you were young that your praises would be sung.
Your storys written on your grave. So many lives this dog did save.
I can remember now, with pleasure, the dog that proved to be a treasure.
That picture hanging on my wall.. My mountain dog THAT says it all.
Joyce Stranger

High On Whispered Wings

"High on whispered wings I fly
a radiant star, I light the sky.
Toward the sun I soar so free,
a brilliant rainbow follows me.
I pulsate through your very soul
and in my paws your heart I hold.
The day will come when you'll fly too,
I'll be here then to welcome you.
Until the time we meet again
I won't journey far my friend.
For in your love I live so free,
a brilliant rainbow guiding me.”


Here in this House...

I will never know the loneliness I hear in the barks of the other dogs 'out there'.
I can sleep soundly, assured that when I wake my world will not have changed.
I will never know hunger, or the fear of not knowing if I'll eat.
I will not shiver in the cold, or grow weary from the heat.
I will feel the sun's heat, and the rain's coolness, and be allowed to smell all that can reach my nose.
My fur will shine, and never be dirty or matted.

Here in this house...
There will be an effort to communicate with me on my level.
I will be talked to and, even if I don't understand,
I can enjoy the warmth of the words.
I will be given a name so that I may know who I am among many.
My name will be used in joy,
and I will love the sound of it!

Here in this house...
I will never be a substitute for anything I am not.
I will never be used to improve peoples' images of themselves.
I will be loved because I am who I am,
not someones idea of who I should be.
I will never suffer for someones anger, impatience, or stupidity.
I will be taught all the things I need to know to be loved by all.
If I do not learn my lessons well,
they will look to my teacher for blame.

Here in this house...
I can trust arms that hold, hands that touch...
knowing that, no matter what they do, they do it for the good of me.
If I am ill, I will be doctored.
If scared, I will be calmed.
If sad, I will be cheered.
No matter what I look like,
I will be considered beautiful and known to be of value.
I will never be cast out because I am too old, too ill, too unruly, or not cute enough.
My life is a responsibility, and not an afterthought.
I will learn that humans can almost, sometimes, be as kind and as fair as dogs.

Here in this house...
I will belong.
I will be home.

(author unknown)


When you bring a pet into your life, you begin a journey — a journey that will bring you more love and devotion than you have ever known, yet also test your strength and courage.

If you allow, the journey will teach you many things, about life, about yourself, and most of all, about love. You will come away changed forever, for one soul cannot touch another without leaving its mark.

Along the way, you will learn much about savoring life’s simple pleasures — jumping in leaves, snoozing in the sun, the joy of puddles, and even the satisfaction of a good scratch behind the ears.

If you spend much time outside, you will be taught how to truly experience every element, for no rock, leaf or log will go unexamined, no rustling bush will be overlooked, and even the very air will be inhaled, pondered, and noted as being full of valuable information. Your pace may be slower — except when heading home to the food dish — but you will become a better naturalist, having been taught by an expert in the field.

Too many times we hike on automatic pilot, our goal being to complete the trail rather than enjoy the journey. We miss the details — the colorful mushrooms on the rotting log, the honeycomb in the old maple snag, the hawk feather caught on a twig. Once we walk as a dog does, we discover a whole new world. We stop; we browse the landscape; we kick over leaves, peek in tree holes, look up, down, all around. And we learn what any dog knows: that nature has created a marvelously complex world that is full of surprises, that each cycle of the seasons brings ever-changing wonders, each day an essence all its own.

Even from indoors you will find yourself more attuned to the world around you. You will find yourself watching summer insects collecting on a screen (How bizarre they are! How many kinds there are!), or noting the flicker and flash of fireflies through the dark. You will stop to observe the swirling dance of windblown leaves, or sniff the air after a rain. It does not matter that there is no objective in this; the point is in the doing, in not letting life’s most important details slip by.

You will find yourself doing silly things that your pet-less friends might not understand: spending thirty minutes in the grocery aisle looking for the cat food brand your feline must have, buying dog birthday treats, or driving around the block an extra time because your pet enjoys the ride. You will roll in the snow, wrestle with chewie toys, bounce little rubber balls till your eyes cross, and even run around the house trailing your bathrobe tie — with a cat in hot pursuit — all in the name of love.

Your house will become muddier and hairier. You will wear less dark clothing and buy more lint rollers. You may find dog biscuits in your pocket or purse, and feel the need to explain that an old plastic shopping bag adorns your living room rug because your cat loves the crinkly sound.

You will learn the true measure of love — the steadfast, undying kind that says, “It doesn’t matter where we are or what we do, or how life treats us as long as we are together.” Respect this always. It is the most precious gift any living soul can give another. You will not find it often among the human race.

And you will learn humility. The look in my dog’s eyes often made me feel ashamed. Such joy and love at my presence. She saw not some flawed human who could be cross and stubborn, moody or rude, but only her wonderful companion. Or maybe she saw those things and dismissed them as mere human foibles, not worth considering, and so chose to love me anyway.

If you pay attention and learn well, when the journey is done, you will not be just a better person, but the person your pet always knew you to be — the one they were proud to call beloved friend.

I must caution you that this journey is not without pain. Like all paths of true love, the pain is part of loving. For as surely as the sun sets, one day your dear animal companion will follow a path you cannot yet go down. And you will have to find the strength and love to let them go. A pet’s time on earth is far too short — especially for those that love them. We borrow them, really, just for awhile, and during those brief years they are generous enough to give us all of their love — every inch of their spirit and heart, until one day there is nothing left.

The cat that only yesterday was a kitten is all too soon old and frail and sleeping in the sun. The young pup of boundless energy wakes up stiff and lame, the muzzle now gray. Deep down we somehow always knew this journey would end. We knew that if we gave our hearts they would be broken. But give them we must for it is all they ask in return. When the time comes, and the road curves ahead to a place we cannot see, we give one final gift and let them run on ahead — young and whole once more.

“Godspeed, good friend,” we say, until our journey comes full circle and our paths cross again.
The Journey
By Crystal Ward Kent
Copyright 1998, All Rights Reserved

?2013 Irish Retriever Rescue