When I was growing up, dogs weren't always kept in yards--especially farm dogs who were free to roam the countryside. "Zeke, An Old Farm Dog" from The Great Frog Race and Other Poems is about different dogs at two different times in my life.
'Zeke' was one of several black Labrador Retrievers my grandparents in Colorado had over the years. (My mom was a teenager when she took the above photo of one of their labs. You can just see the tip of the stick Zeke is chasing.)
As a kid, I loved hearing stories about Zeke and the crazy stuff he and the labs other hauled home from their adventures. Later, houses were built around my grandparent's farm—it was no longer open countryside. Zeke had to stay in the yard—and out of trouble.
Years later, my husband and I moved to a rural area. Here, too, some of the dogs ran loose. 'Buddy,' the white lab who lived next door to us did have a fenced yard. However, the minute his owners left for work, Buddy would scoot under the fence and go off on adventures. Even though Buddy wasn't our dog, he brought us presents. His best gift was a child's plastic wading pool. (Yes, we did find the owners and return their kids' pool.)
When I read this poem, I am seeing dogs I loved. I am remembering a simpler time. In my heart, the black dog on the knoll is my dog. She's having the time of her life, running free.