I am so proud to be associated with the production of Denise Dubarbier’s beautiful book of poems For the Love of a Greyhound, for sale from Wimbledon Greyhound Welfare for £5 with all proceeds going towards support of the retired greyhounds in the care of the Welfare. Denise’s beautiful poems reflect so many aspects of greyhound rescue: the anxious thoughts of hounds approaching the end of their racing lives: tales of happy homings; tales of abandoned forgotten dogs; tales of happy days, of reaching the beach, kennel birthday parties and the simple routines of kennel life; stories of loss and mourning; and celebrations of the lives many of the characters (human and canine) who have helped to make Wimbledon Greyhound Welfare the community it is today.
Denise asked me to do the photographs for the book, or more accurately to trawl my archives for suitable material. I’ve been involved with Wimbledon Greyhound Welfare (or Hersham Hounds as it is affectionately known) for so many years now, and have pictures of many of the hounds that the poems were written about and events that inspired the verses. All the images except the covers are in black and white, and as a closet black and white junkie that suited me nicely.
If you’re looking for a personal gift for a dog lover, or simply want to spoil yourself, pop over to the kennel’s online shop and get yourself a copy here.
With permission of Denise, here is a small sampler of what is, for me, one of the most moving poems in the book:
COME WALK WITH ME
Come walk with me a little while.
We’ve done this many times before.
Your hand on my shoulder feels warm and familiar,
Portraying a love that’s secure.
The pains in my body
Like old friends embrace me
Making our journey slow.
As your voice reassuring, encouraging, rewarding,
Tells me it’s time to go.
And as we move forward
In familiar comfort
My pain and discomfort they ease.
And now I am trotting along here beside you
I look to you, eager to please.
And now I am moving at a pace long forgotten
And as we move further apart,
Your voice gently calls me
But I know I shan’t lose you
For I carry you here in my heart.
Don’t fret I can hear you
And see you and feel you
No matter how far I may roam.
And at the end of this journey
I know you will hold me
And gently you’ll carry me home.
Written for Ania Ross, secretary for W.G.W, when she lost her own greyhound, Candy (Maxine’s Candle). This grand old lady died just two months short of her fifteenth birthday. The poem is for all of us who have had to make that last journey with our four legged friends – our final act of kindness.