Poem: Old Cowboy and Old Dog

by Shelley Goldbeck

This is the first “cowboy” poem I wrote, inspired by a true story my dad told me about his dog.



Decades of riding range are but memory for old man.
He gets chores done in morning, naps when he can.
Old dog, grown stiff, needs ramp to get on couch
But as old cowboy discovers, old dog is no slouch.

Old cowboy stretches out one afternoon, encroaching on a dream
Completely unaware of unfolding canine scheme.
Old dog bounds to window, her “somebody’s here” woof.
Old cowboy lies there wondering, human or paw or hoof?

Curiosity wins match, clamours to tired feet,
Peeks through gap in curtains, unprepared for what eyes meet.
Nothing. Nobody. Not barn cat, nor skunk, nor neighbour, Bill.
Horses must be at north end; yard is ghostly still.

Old cowboy turns to couch; its comfort calls him back.
No room. Old dog nestled snugly in the warmth of his sack.

Resigning to easy chair, old cowboy knows ’twas all a ruse.
Of course ordering old dog to move is one way to choose.
But he’s reminded by ache in shoulder that gallops towards thigh
That old dog hurts too, so he leaves sleeping dog lie.

Eyes dance as he relates how old dog made fool of him
And chuckles, punctuating story with sheepish grin.
“Funny thing is,” he lowers voice, secret to reveal.
“She fooled me several more times before I figured out her deal.”