Oh for that Brindle coat and Mastiff jaws
so joyfully flinging a plush toy
left right left right fwapping herself so fast
I marveled at how this Boston Terrier
did not scramble her brain.
And now she’s gone of a brain tumor.

How much joy do I clench in my jaws
and shake myself silly, refusing to let go?
Lurking damages be damned!
Bella reflected our son for over ten years,
from excited adventurer ready for the road
to basking in a patch of sun on the floor.

So funny, so fun,
so gone.
No more frantic scrambling underfoot
or balancing a toy on her head
or burrowing under the covers
to sleep with her favorite humans.

Ah, her wide welcome of a tongue
eager to lick you into a laughing tumble of love
until you just had to say stop – enough, enough.
Such a good dog, far beyond the cliché,
infiltrated deeply in our lives
and shook our hearts senseless with joy.


Blaise Kielar received Honorable Mention in the 2022 Alex Albright Creative Nonfiction Prize for an excerpt from his memoir in progress, "Be Heard: The Quiet Kid Who Started the World’s Loudest Violin Shop." He opened Chapel Hill’s first violin shop in 1978 and retired from a music retail career by transitioning Electric Violin Shop into the first worker-owned co-op music store in the United States. He plays jazz violin and clarinet in several bands and leads the Bulltown Strutters, Durham’s community New Orleans brass band.