As you start reading Dog's Death by John Updike you are immediately placed in to a solemn state as a dog lover. The words that Updike chose to write this poem enhances the tone, because the words draw such vivid images in your mind as you read. The tone changes throughout the poem; from the very starting point of this poem you feel the sense of trouble, turmoil, heartbreak and failure that the injury was unknown. Next you feel some remorse for the puppy as she perished trying to chomp on the hand of the person that feeds her. Then it was the compassion that the family had for the puppy in its last stages of life. .
"She must have been kicked unseen or brushed by a car " (Updike 1). Updike begins the poem by rapidly stating how the family was uninformed that their puppy had been injured and how the injuries had been sustained. It first makes you think that the family is not a very good caretaker for the dog. He then makes you take that statement back with the next couple of lines when he stated "Too young to know much, she was beginning to learn / To use the newspaper spread on the kitchen floor / And to win, wetting there, the words ", "Good dog! Good dog! " " (Updike 2-4). It's in these lines where you learn that the dog is just a young puppy, and that the family does take care of it, because they are trying to paper train it. The last line also shows that the family loves the dog when they say "Good dog! ".
The next stanza starts to point out the family's first thought to the puppy's change in behavior. John Updike explains that they first thought that the puppy was behaving awkwardly due to a shot it had not too long ago received and how they were trying to make the dog feel better by playing with it. "We thought her shy malaise was a shot reaction. " (Updike 5). Updike points out that it is later learned that the puppy had a ruptured liver; in which they found through an autopsy.