it gets run over by a van.
you find it at the side of the road
and bury it.
you feel bad about it.
you feel bad personally,
but you feel bad for your daughter
because it was her pet,
and she loved it so.
she used to croon to it
and let it sleep in her bed.
you write a poem about it.
you call it a poem for your daughter,
about the dog getting run over by a van
and how you looked after it,
took it out into the woods
and buried it deep, deep,
and that poem turns out so good
you’re almost glad the little dog
was run over, or else you’d never
have written that good poem.
then you sit down to write
a poem about writing a poem
about the death of that dog,
but while you’re writing you
hear a woman scream
your name, your first name,
both syllables,
and your heart stops.
after a minute, you continue writing.
she screams again.
you wonder how long this can go on.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Raymond Carver's poem Your Dog Dies


  1. sleepy says:

    “The beauty of this poem is in the way it reaches toward illuminating the
    truth that art, or creativity, mitigates the suffering…”
    C’mon. you’re thinking too much. trying to be some intellect. “mitigates the suffering..” c’mon.

    its just a good, well written poem.

    dont think too hard MeMe.

  2. ernie says:

    this poem is sick i like it i keep reading it over and over

  3. MeMe says:

    This is an amazing poem. I wonder about those of you who just write, “This is terrible” or some such. Why bother to comment if you’re not going to explain your ideas, your thoughts, your analysis? I can’t even tell if some of you have put thought into it. Maybe you just have a good/terrible button on your keyboard…
    The beauty of this poem is in the way it reaches toward illuminating the truth that art, or creativity, mitigates the suffering of being human. The author loves his daughter and loved the dog. Death is ultimately inescapable. The only thing that makes the painful situation of life, love and death bearable is writing a poem about it. Then the poem turns out to be so good that it does more than take the edge off the suffering; it brings the writer happiness! A kind of happiness-despite-death. What more could any of us ask for? It’s all we’ve got as mortals in this world.
    A woman is yelling at him. She’s trying to break into what he’s built as a way of happiness. She’s his wife, most likely. She isn’t the source of his happiness, so the marriage might be on the rocks. He’s holding on. “How long can this go on?”

    I hope reading poems brings you all happiness. I’d love to read thoughtful comments.

  4. katey says:

    this is a really good poem LOL

  5. Adrianna says:

    this is gay!

  6. Lindsay Varcoe says:

    I am astounded that so many visitors to this site fail to comprehend the genious of Raymond Carver. His dirty little secret – that he extracts some artistic joy from the death of his daughter’s dog – and his confessional regarding same, are brilliant honesty in its most raw form. The literal meaning and the poet’s dilemna are as one – the dog is dead and Carver is genuinely sorry for his daughter, but at the same time he (the poet Carver) is secretly pleased to have something to stoke his creative fires. The separation between artist and person – creator and person – has never been more stark. Read it – read everything Carver wrote and savour every moment.


  7. Zach says:

    This poem is very depressing!!!

  8. Cindy says:

    This is the first Carver poem I read, and then I was hooked. He is by far my favorite poet of all time. Other favorites include “Transformation” and “The Current,” but I’ve grown attached to a number of his pieces and like his poetry more than his prose. Thanks for the site.

  9. george says:

    this is a terrible terrible poem.

  10. Cameron says:

    You’re all inane. This poem is about how he needs to have bad things happen so he can continue to write good poetry. It gets to the point where he is happy that bad things are happening, because good poetry comes out of it. Finally, he hears some sort of screaming, and he does nothing in the hopes that it will be bad enough to write good poetry.

  11. Rebecca says:

    I personally love poetry and I thought this was funny yet ellagent. It was a great poem!!

  12. Ezergailis, Andrew says:

    I am sending a competing death of dog poem. Author is my late wife Inta. ae

    When the dog dies
    He lies on the table, eyes closed,
    the trembling quiet now.
    Pink liquid in the needle,
    a short yelp, and it’s over.
    They’re ready, the vet says,
    when they go so fast.

    We cry, I take his collar off.
    At night, I dream of him
    running circles, touch
    the thick rough fur
    by his neck and feel the tag gone-
    no one to return him now.

    Sixteen years of walks-
    parks, wildflower reserve,
    Plantations, Rim Trail, Lick Brook,
    Abbot’s Loop, and many nameless paths,
    on foot or skis, he struggling through the snow.
    Lately, for his sake, more on flat trails.

    We force ourselves to walk now,
    explain to other regulars,
    pet their dogs, and go on,
    the warm brown shadow still
    between us, the ghost leash
    loosening, as he falls behind.

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