She had to escape from abusive boys,
Their chaos, their beatings, their harsh, strident noise.
Mangy, unkempt, and hungry, one day
She seized her chance to escape– ran away.
Forlorn, pathetic, so frail and alone,
She found Sherrie’s haven, where warm porchlights shone.

Sherrie opened her door, and what did she face
But a ragged street urchin in need of embrace.
Sherrie gathered her, hugged her, and took her inside.
If not for Sherrie the pup would’ve died.

Within a few weeks, she was healthy and happy.
Playful and childlike and waggy and yappy.
On walks she’d meander with leisurely gait,
Marking her territory while Sherrie would wait.
She loved the street vibe but kept up her guard
For threats from a bush, or a dog owner’s yard.
She snuggled with Sherrie on cold winter nights
For sustainable warmth in South Seminole Heights.

Sherrie worked each day; it got lonely inside.
Miranda worried and paced and quietly cried.
She barked or whined and paced the floor
And wished and hoped, and watched the door
‘Til Sherrie came home to a sloppy wet kiss
From Miranda, now joyful, expressing pure bliss!

In life and in love, an inseparable team
Of loyalty, tenderness, mutual esteem.
Always together, perhaps joined at the hip,
They strengthened their ideal partnership.

This water dog loved Tampa’s Hillsborough Bay
Where she’d cool down her Lab roots and happily play.
Off her leash romping and frolicking free,
She’d meet other dogs in a wet social spree.
She’d splash and paddle and wade with glee,
Then lie down to daydream in crystal clear sea.

In the back yard a baby possum she once retrieved
And presented alive to Sherrie, so relieved
That a life brought back in a mouth soft and gentle,
Was carried with care by jaws of sharp dental.
When stalking small lizards, her happy tail wagged,
Those elusive lizards would zig when she zagged.

So appreciative and docile when we rubbed her tummy
Or rewarded with treats from BarkBox– so yummy!
When young, with the hope and joy of a child,
Ready for adventure, she had us beguiled.

At age 12 our white-whiskered black lab Miranda
Could be told (with respect) she resembled a panda.
With patience and wisdom befitting her age,
She mentored her boys with the calm of a sage.
She cared not for self– she was all about other.
To Ramsey and Junie, their surrogate mother.
(She could never give birth to a litter her own,
But mothered those two, although they were grown.)

Her illness was troubling– she was unable to cope.
Easing her pain was our compassionate hope.
Deep searching eyes of trust; steady gaze,
Sought closer bond, not simply praise.
Miranda could discern Sherrie’s specific intent:
Knew not her words, but knew what she meant.
Our treasured sage, now matriarch stately,
Needed to go (but painlessly, sedately).

Reading compassion and kindness in Sherrie’s face,
She mirrored devotion, assurance, and grace.
Came the sad day, her time for release.
With soft words of love, Sherrie granted her peace.

Sherrie, Ramsey, Junie, and Will
Loved Miss Miranda, and we miss her still.

—Will Walsh ©2017