“The vital function that pets fulfill in this world hasn’t been fully recognized,” wrote spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle while praising our four-legged companions. “They keep millions of people sane. They have become Guardians of Being.”
There is a profound wisdom in these words, for just watching a dog or a cat can be a deeply healing experience. It takes us out of our mind and brings us into the now — the only place free of chains of the past and unknown void of the future. That’s where an animal lives all the time, surrendered to life, enjoying it with every fiber of its being. When you pet a dog, your thinking subsides for a moment… that is until you realize that it has chewed your favorite book! This is what Mary Oliver (September 10, 1935–January 17, 2019) explores in her tender poem “Percy” included in the collection Dog Songs. Read here by the poet herself and steeped in boundless love for her favorite pet. Please enjoy!
by Mary Oliver
Our new dog, named for the beloved poet,
Ate a book which unfortunately we had
Fortunately it was the Bhagavad Gita,
Of which many copies are available.
Every day now, as Percy grows
Into the beauty of his life, we touch
His wild, curly head and say,
“Oh, wisest of little dogs.”
Do you have a dog or plan to have one? Then you absolutely need Dog Songs in your life! Complement with the growing collection of deeply stirring poetry readings that include Billy Collins’ “The Lanyard” and “Dharma,” Emily Dickinson’s “I Dwell in Possibility,” Pablo Neruda’s “I Like for You to Be Still,” Gregory Orr’s “This is What Was Bequeathed Us,” and Wallace Stevens’ “The Snow Man.”