Pet Loss: A Poem by Rudyard Kipling “The Power of a Dog”

Time spent with our pet's seems as fleeting as the life of a butterfly.

“Time spent with our pets seems as fleeting as the life of a butterfly” Quote by Yvonne Daniel

I read about Neil Gaiman and his dog in The Scoop in The Dogster. Gaiman wrote about his dog in his personal blog on Tumblr. A touching story of how he rescued his beautiful pet from the side of the highway. Niel Gaiman included Rudyard Kipling’s poem titled “The Power of a Dog. I feel this is one one of the best poems related to pet loss that I’ve read thus far.

“The Power of a Dog”

There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
But when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and sisters I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.

Buy a pup and your money will buy
Love unflinching that cannot lie–
Perfect passion and worship fed
By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
Nevertheless it is hardly fair
To risk your heart for a dog to tear.

When the fourteen years that nature permits
Are closing in asthma or tumors or fits
And the vet’s unspoken prescription runs
To lethal chambers, or loaded guns.
Then you will find–its your own affair
But–you’ve given your heart to a dog to tear.

When the body that lived at your single will
When the whimper of welcome is stilled (how still!)
When the spirit that answered your every mood
Is gone–wherever it goes–for good,
You still discover how much you care
And will give your heart to a dog to tear.

We’ve sorrow enough in the natural way
When it comes to burying Christian clay.
Our loves are not given, but only lent,
At compound interest of cent per cent.
Though it is not always the case, I believe,
That the longer we’ve kept ’em the more do we grieve;
For when debts are payable, right or wrong,
A short time loan is as bad as a long–
So why in Heaven (before we are there)
Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?

Poem by Rudyard Kipling

Note: Some search engine terms/questions were in reference to the year that Kipling wrote this poem. I have not been able to find, via Internet, what year the poem was written.

Post and photograph Yvonne

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68 thoughts on “Pet Loss: A Poem by Rudyard Kipling “The Power of a Dog”

  1. Such a beautiful poem filled with simple truth.

    • Yes it is probably at the top of the list. I really like Kipling- a lot. And I think you are correct is a simple truth and actually not a complicated poem. There are several pet loss poems on my blog and I think that Kipling’s poem is my favorite. Thank you for commenting.

  2. vivachange77 says:

    Many thanks for visiting and following my blog.

  3. First, let me thank you for stopping at the ‘ranch’ and secondly for posting this Kipling poem. My son lost his dog yesterday and while Marley was 15 years old, his kids grew up with her and their loss is very profound and significant. Losing our pets is always hard, they give so much to us with no expectations. Our lives are richer for their presence and they are indeed members our families. ❤

    • Thank you for letting me know that you liked the Kiplinig poem and I truely hope that it was a comfort to any family member that read the poem.

      Oddly enough, my daughter has a 15 year old, female long haired dog named Marley, who she named after Bob Marley, the singer. Marley is a shepherd and collie mix and on special meds to keep her going. My daughter is a veterinarian and has her on on sorts of supplements, vitamins and gets her urine checked about every 2-3 months. It seems she is prone to kidney/bladder infections and requires a very expensive antibiotic to treat the infection.
      Anyhow, that was a side track comment about “our Marley.”

      One just never knows when that day will come when we’ll have to say goodbye as well. All dogs are special that are/were members of the family and I can well imagine that your son’s dog is a major loss. I hope that eventually your son and his family will adopt another dog. It would be wonderful for the children and also ease some of your son’s grief as well.

      Thank you for visiting and sharing your story.

      Hugs, Yvonne

  4. writing, writing, words words words. says:

    Reblogged this on creating an online presence for tomorrow, today. and commented:
    I have a cat I’ve fallen in love with so much that I tell myself she will live forever. I could not NOT reblogg this post.

    • Please forgive me if I have not respond to all of your comments but I think that I missed replying to one comment and I’m extremely late with a response. I must confess that I’ve been too busy with puny or ill cats to even go to your blog- at least I don’t think that I have. If I’ve been over there already, I plan to visit your site again. I do hope all is well with your kitty. I’ve been worried sick about some of mine and took one this past Monday to a specialty clinic in Round Rock, Texas. He was diagnosed with single cell lymphoma and is not taking a chemo med to hopefully control the cancer. So far he is looking better and eating good and I pray that I’ll have him around for several more years.

  5. writing, writing, words words words. says:

    Thank you for this post and the accompanying poem. I could never really understand the love for a pet as if a pet was a child/loved one until I got a rescue cat, a Chocolate Pointe Siamese who took the longest time to trust me (now I can’t get her to stop talking). Now, though, I do understand. She’s getting very old, and I dread the day I can’t see, as I checked for it today, the rise and fall of that furry, dearly loved belly. Today, I really can’t even emotionally imagine her not being here always. I just tell myself she will live forever. Thank you again. I’m reblogging your post.

    • Thanks for the reblog. I empathize with you about your dear pet. Have you had your vet examine her? Perhaps there is something to make her feel better. Lab test and urinalysis would be good. Many old pets get kidney or bladder infections and show no outward signs other than slowly declining with loss of appetite and energy.

      It is gut wrenching to lose a pet and I had one of my favorites, Meri, put down last Thursday. I did intensive nursing with various antibiotics, for 4 weeks in hopes I could get her well. Then I finally asked the vet to xray her head and abdomen. She had a mass on the side of her cheek and up toward her head. I parted with her the next day after the finding and I did not want to hand her over to the vet. I cried and sobbed as they left the room. I could not bring myself
      to hold her as she met her demise.

      I’ve been terribly depressed since she initially went downhill and I suppose I knew in my heart that she was dying. I’m so sorry this is so long but this is the first time that I have told anyone of my cat’s death. Someday I’ll write about how Meri came to be my cat.

      • writing, writing, words words words. says:

        I so empathize with you! I so don’t want to be there, god! Thanks you a million thank yous for sharing this with me. Though I know pain and grief are inevitable, and I even cry now at a taste of it from what you’ve shared…hugs and hugs and hugs and more hugs, and I’m holding you in my heart, xo.

  6. Vicky says:

    A very moving poem, that has triggered some still very raw emotions in me 😦

    I also read Neil Gaiman’s story from your link, which I can relate to, having been in a similar situation with another of my lost friends.
    I don’t know if you’ve heard this poem, but perhaps another for your collection:

    It came to me that every time I lose a dog,
    they take a piece of my heart with them….
    And every new dog who comes into my life,
    gifts me with a piece of their heart.
    If I live long enough, all the components of
    my heart will be dog …
    and maybe
    I will become as generous and loving as they are.

    • Thanks for the poem and I will add it to the group. I saw that you had lost such a dear friend. I am so sorry for your loss. Yes it tears our hearts and leaves a gaping hole. I can only say one thing which I am sure will not comfort you but none the less… If you happen upon a starving dog that is in need of human kindness do not hesitate to help that dog. I have very odd beliefs that our pets live on in the body and soul of another dog or cat. I don’t often tell this to anyone for it is odd and radical thinking. It is most likely my way of dealing with the loss of a pet that was near and dear to me. Thank you for taking the time to comment and again, thank you for the poem.

      Best regards,

      • Vicky says:

        Thank you for thoughts.
        I believe the same as you do about our pets living on, and oddly your comment echoes a short story I read recently.
        I’m not big into book reading, but this one shouted out to be read.
        It’s called Connected Souls by Dana Landers and I stumbled across it on Amazon books.

        • Vicky you are so very welcome. I too happened upon that book but I have not read it. I’ve been working on several drafts and one draft is a list of books to add to the list that is already on this blog. This book I had added to the list. I was not aware that other people think in the same manner as I about our pets living on. I still have a number of books to add to the list but I suppose at some point I need to stop. I like the true stories and once in a great moon a fiction pet book will strike my fancy. I’m not much on books either- they cost money and I have little time to read. I do enjoy good pet stories though and have a lots of my own books bought as used ones. Caring for my little sanctuary pets takes time and energy and I am far from a spring chicken. 🙂

  7. Kipling certainly knew grief in his life. I am always amazed at his perception. On a more cheerful note there is a wonderful short story by him told from the point of view of a polo pony – The Maltese Cat.

    • Thank you Hilary for visiting my blog. Yes, Kipling was brilliant, at least in my opinion her was. I love his works.

      Do you need suggestions for your blog or were you kidding in the comment over on O’Diva’s blog??

      • I am one of life’s perpetual students, so I am always open to advice and suggestions. My blog is only five months old and I am aware it has a slightly scattergun approach. I should perhaps have separate blogs, on the other hand life is not compartmentalised by subject. Any wise words will be much appreciated.

        • Hilary, I appreciate that you have had a look at my blog. I shall get back to you after I have looked at your blog again. I am not a blogging wizzard by any means but there are some basics for any blogger. I keep my blog small because that is what I prefer -to know the readers and to have enogh time to comment on their blogs. I am not into a popularity contest. Quality and not quantity is good for me. 🙂

  8. gita4elamats says:

    I know the feeling, having lost 2 beautiful dogs, (。◕‿◕。)

  9. So, Tim tells me last night he thinks it is time for me to get a new pup. It has been only 8 months since my heart was most torn by the sudden loss of my young dog…perhaps I should have him read this.

    • I posted a new poem re:death of a pet and his preposed will. It might make you cry but a new pet will help you, Mary. I thought i would never get WP to work right since I put a photo with it.

  10. chatou11 says:

    Hello Yvonne, have you seen that you have a traductor now on my blog???
    have a nice week

  11. Fergiemoto says:

    Beautiful post. Thank you so much for your nice comment on my last posting, Catordog!

  12. We have a much loved rescued dog who was abandoned in a horrible way. Even as I read the poem, I paused several times and reached down to stroke Maggie’s head.

    • Marylin, when I imitially read one of your blogs about your mother, I just knew that you are a kind person. In my opinion most kind individuals, as a rule, like animals and most of those people have a pet if at all possible. So it makes me very happy to know that you have a rescue and have given her a home. I have written in some replies to various commenters that an abandoned, abused, or a shelter dog that seems to be eternally grateful to the adopter. They seem to make such wonderful pets. I can’t quite put it into words but I have found that to be true with my own pets that I have rescued from certain death. I am so glad that you gave Maggie a home. And I know that you really, really are glad that you have Maggie as your pet. Thank you for commenting.


  13. Andrew says:

    I had never had a dog until I got married. Wife and dog came as a package. Mui Chu was 16 when she died and I had the sadness of being with her when the vet helped her to achieve peace. My wife had sat up with her for two nights comforting her before we determined she was too ill to help further. I had never imagined I could be so attached to an animal. I like Kipling and this touched the spot. Thanks Yvonne.

    • Well I just lost 2 long paragraphs by hitting the return key too hard.

      I can see how you easily became attached to your wife’s dog. Kind and gentle people become attached to a pet. It is so easy to do. About Neil Gaiman. He is a British writer that found his dog that he named Cabal. I learned of the story by reading an article in The Dogster. I clicked on the link and it took me to Tumblr where Gaiman has a blog. He wrote about the passing of his dog and had also posted a photo. It is a photo that is etched in my mind. It is that good. The dog is beautiful and is looking directly into Gaiman’s eyes. I could not get my computer to highlight the link but if you look at these comments- find the one from Shoreacres. She sent me the link thinking that I could transfer it over to the blog but it just still would not work. However, it will work in her comment to me. (shoreacres).

      One more thing that you mentioned was Kipling. I had not idea that he had written an entire poem that was a reference to his dog’s passing. He is a fine poet and now I have a new appreciation for Kipling.

      Now, I believe that you went back on your word of not having time to read posts that were made while you were gone. But I am happy that you looked in on mine. I have not posted much of late. Too depressed about the messed up blog and other matters. I have been photographing a bit but nothing that is much of anything.

      Take care, Andrew
      Best regards,

  14. sweetmarie says:

    We read their story. It was so wonderful and yet so sad. My husband and son read it with me. Thank you so much for sharing.

  15. I’m all sorts of teary reading this. We lost our sweet puppy Nilla Bean last October.

    There is a passage by Gene Hill along the same vein at the end of this post:

    • Well I took a quick look back at Yahoo mail and it is working for now. I suppose I am still going to call Costco and see about scanning for viruses again. I still have other comments that I have no idea if I saw them or if my replies to the comments went through or not. Hold tight and I intend to get back to you.I put the poem in a draft that I will save adn post at some pointl. Thank you cery much. I am so sorry that you you lost a dear pet that was a part of your family. It is the pits. I don’t know if I have any other words for pet loss. Your dog was quite young. I won’t ask what caused her death.If you had wanted that known I think you would have written it as part of the post.


  16. This is one of the most beautiful poems ever and one the most beautiful lines, “…Our loves are not given, but only lent…” You would have to have a hard heart not to get at least a bit teary-eyed at reading it. And that Neil Gaiman post is gut-wrenching! Again, beautiful and sad.

    Your photo is gorgeous! I’m a huge macro photography fan. It takes a great deal of patience, but completely worth it as it gives you a most incredible view of nature.

    Lovely post!

    • Thank you for taking the time to read and to write such a nice comment. I can’t take full credit. I read about Gaiman on The Dogster blog in The Scoop story part. The first paragraph of Kipling’s poem was a part of the story if I am recalling correctly. So I went to “Sir Google” and typed in Kipling’s memorial poem about his dog or something like that. I was very pleased to discover that he had written an entire poem. It was written to honor his dog that had died. Now I have a new appreciation for Kipling and now I know about Gaiman who is British. I don’t know if he found the dog in the U.S. or Great Britian. I was reading very fast so I might have missed some important points. The one thing that grabbed my sentiments was the photograph of Gaiman with his dog. I can not forget the look of love of his dog gazing into Gaiman’s eyes. It caused me to cry as I put the little post together. I returned to the photo numerous times and I now have that spot marked as a favorite. I suppose it will remain in his blog in Tumblr. Gaiman wrote the story with so much love. I am certain that is was extremely difficult for him to write about his beloved Cabal. Anyway that is how the idea for the post was born. Thank you again for stopping by and for liking and commenting.

      Also the butterfly is not of the best quality. (the photo is ok, it just is not as good as I know it could be with a better lens- not camera but the lens part) I don’t have a prime lens for my camera. My dollars have been needed elsewhere so the macro prime lens is on hold for now. My lens is an 18mm-200 zoom kit lens (kit is not the same as a prime) which is of much higher quality but you most likely know that. A real macro gives a much sharper pic and I so long to have better qualtiy photos- but someday hopefully…

  17. Beautiful poem, very emotional…

  18. exiledprospero says:

    Grief is still so far for me. I prefer not to dwell on it. Luckily Ariel keeps me busy and I don’t have time to think about loss.

    • Oh Propero, I did not expect you to even look at this post. But it presented itself after I read about the writer, Neil Gaiman’s dog. I am sure you little butterfly will never be far from your heart. But you have learned to love another dog but that does nothing to diminish the love you had for Angie (I hope I remembered her name correctly).

  19. shoreacres says:

    Oh – I found the error in your link that didn’t work. I’ve done the same thing many times. You only need the http:// once – when you’re using the wordpress form, you have to be careful about that. If I copy and paste a link, I delete the first http:// from the box and start from scratch. 😉

    • Well I did that and it still did not work. I am thinking of emailing you to see what I can do in the back door of this blog. But I am going to go back in the back to see what the heck I can fix on my own. Thank you ,Linda very much.

  20. shoreacres says:

    Gaiman is one of the best writers of our time, actually. I don’t follow him much, because he tends toward fantasy, young adult – just sorts of things I’ve never read. But after reading his post about his dog, I’m thinking I should give his other work at least a try. He did a beautiful job of communicating his feelings about the dog’s death and his pain at not being there.

    The poem is wonderful, too. It’s not one I’ve come across – just lovely.

    • Linda, I had never heard of the man before I read about him in The Dogster which provided the link. The picture of him and his dog is priceless. Cabal the dog was looking into Gaiman’s eyes and the picture of itself made me cry. I agree with you that he wrote that very well given the fact that the death of his dog was still a raw memory. I think I’ll see what adult books he has and try to round some up through Abe or Amazon books- used ones.

  21. Northern Narratives says:

    Beautiful post.

  22. Sybil says:

    I am a total wuss. I couldn’t even bring myself to read the whole poem …

    • That is okay Sybil if you are a wuss. I am about certain things relating to a pet/s death. But I’ve had many pets in my lifetime and it is very, very difficult. At times I still cry about a pet that has been gone for years. The poem did not make me cry but the link to Neil Gaiman’s blog on Tumblr made me cry for he wrote about the dog he rescued. The dog died just recently and he really was attached to his beautiful dog. I don’t want to even think about some of mine going in a few years. It is going to be really difficult. Thanks for commenting.

  23. Just Rod says:

    Lovely thoughts and photograph. Dogs definitely get deep inside our hearts and the grief we feel over their death is very painful. But the pain only emphasizes the blessing we have received from their unconditional love and loyalty.

    Who would not give their hearts to a dog to tear? Love has a cost, lack of love a much greater one.

    • Thanks Rod, for reading the post. If you will look for the comment from Lottie Nivens there is a link to Tumblr of Neil Gaiman’s story of how he found his dog and about his dog dying while he was away from home. The story made me cry. It is a well written story. Gaiman is a writer from Great Britian. You are right that love has a cost but to not love a dog or pet in one’s lifetime is to have missed a great deal. I could not go through life without my pets. Mine are lots of work but I derive a lot of pleasure and comfort from them.

  24. chatou11 says:

    What a beautiful poem Yvonne and now I have to dray my tears out. I love Rudyard Kipling but I only know poems in french translation. Beautiful butterfly!
    have a nice day and thank for sharing

    • Thank you for reading the poem. There is a link in one of the comments (the comments on this post) from Lottie Nivens to Neil Gaiman’s site on Tumblr. He wrote about the dog he rescued 6 years ago and about the dogs recent death. His story cauded me to cry. I was not familiar with Gaiman’s work. e is A writer from Great Britian and it is wirth th eread.It isn’t very. The dog is one that he rescued. He write that the dog rescued him as much as he rescuded the dog. Very touching story.

  25. Interesting poem, One of our dogs has epilepsy and we have come close several times to that one-way trip to the vets. It’s not the epilepsy but the after effects. He invariably ingests the froth that happens during the fit into his lungs. This in turn causes an infection which affects his breathing and only strong antibiotics will kill. But he’s managed to reach nine years and still chases cats, so we’ll keep him going as long as he’s still got quality of life…

    • I’m sorry that your dog has epilepsy. Is he not on medication for the seizures? If not maybe you need a better vet who can treat him more effectively. I hope for you and your dog that he lives much longer. There are some breeds of dogs that are prone to epilepsy and it is a sad situation that the genetics for epilepsy has not been reduced by improved selective breeding.

      Thanks Mike, for taking time to read the post.

  26. Beautiful thoughts ! Such feeling and truth in these words. It brought tears to my eyes thinking of my dear Mouchette, who died five years ago after 17 years of faithful and loving companionship. Thanks for sharing as well as for the lovely monarch butterfly’s picture.

    • Hello Isa. It’s good to get your comment. I’m glad you like the poem. I had not read previously read the poem before last evening. I didn’t know that Kipling liked dogs. Like you, I cried reading the poem. We never forget our wonderful pets, do we? Seventeen years is quite a long life for most dogs. You were very fortunate to have your dog live to such an old age.

  27. Lottie Nevin says:

    What a beautiful poem – it did bring a lump to my throat. I’ll try to decipher the link and find Neil Gaiman’s story about his dog. Thanks Yvonne and I loved your photo too.

    • I replied to you in notifications and the reply did not transfer over. This blog or WP is a mess. Don’t know who to blame- myself or WP. I looked up Neil Gaiman in Google and learned that he is British. I am, sorry to say that I had no idea who he is. After reading his blog in Tumblr I believe he is a really nice person. He truly loved his dog Cabal. It’s to bad that his dog did not have a longer life.

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