Dog's Death - John Updike Poem

Topics: Pet, John Updike, Emotion Pages: 3 (984 words) Published: May 2, 2011
No Shame in a Good Dog
ENG 125: Introduction to Literature
Instructor:  Trinity Wilbourn
February 28, 2011

The death of a family pet can be one of the hardest experiences in a person’s life. For those who mourn the passing of their dog suffer alone because they do not want others to see them grieving. This may sound like emotional babble to some people but to others, it would come off as a comical mushiness. In John Updike’s poem, “Dog’s Death”, the dog who dies in the poem and her owner expresses a sense of abandonment which illustrates the mourning of one who loses his dog. I think the use of a formalist approach for analyzing this poem will best fit for reflecting the symbolism, empathy, and imagery designed to reveal the tone I observed. This author must have designed from a real life experience to have created such well developed description of human heartache by the death of his pet.

I have only lost one dog in my lifetime; I empathize with the author’s anguish over the misunderstanding of his dog while it was still alive. With a loss of a pet, I found myself recalling how much of the dog went unseen. Only appreciation sets in when losing something makes awareness much more recognizable. I feel that the tone of this poem creates an initial feeling of sympathy, which is likely to become empathy if the reader reflects on the dog’s final struggles with life (Clugston, 2010). A “good dog” recognizes her master as a god and will do anything to please him with unconditional love. A “good dog” will go far as controlling her automatic urges and innocent behaviors which satisfy her master and places a great deal of responsibility on the master as well. When pets die, we are left feeling solely accountable. This is the tone that is set in “Dog’s Death”. The fact this poem is titled “Dog’s Death” demonstrates that this can be viewed as a familiar experience from which all dog owners can relate to. The companionship between a dog and her...

References: Clugston, R. W. (2010). Journey into Literature. San Diego, California: Bridgepoint Education, Inc. (
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