Tuesday, February 04, 2014

The Power of the Dog

There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
And when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and Sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.

- R. Kipling

It’ll be harder for my wife. She will feel the loss more keenly, I think, because Jasper came before Daughter, and was the vessel into which maternal affections were first poured. (Something that seems like watered-down Kool-Aid into a Dixie Cup compared to actual parenthood, which is full-strength Burgundy into an exquisite delicate goblet.) For men dogs are different. Companions. Pals. Comrades. We used to go walking in the woods on weekends in the midnight hour before Natalie came along, on the hunt for things in the brush, following the glint of the moon on the creek. I know that’s what he loved the most. I know he loved to sit on the warm slab of the radiator and look out on the world. Or run up the stairs and bound up on the bed and pounce in play. I know that some sort of mercy has wiped from his mind the idea that such things were ever possible; I hope that the same sort of mercy lets him revisit those days in dreams.

I've been following Lileks for the last decade plus, and it seems that Gnat and Jasper grew up with my kids. 

1 comment:

John Kasaian said...

Where To Bury A Dog

There are various places within which a dog may be buried. We are thinking now of a setter, whose coat was flame in the sunshine, and who, so far as we are aware, never entertained a mean or an unworthy thought. This setter is buried beneath a cherry tree, under four feet of garden loam, and at its proper season the cherry strews petals on the green lawn of his grave. Beneath a cherry tree, or an apple, or any flowering shrub of the garden, is an excellent place to bury a good dog. Beneath such trees, such shrubs, he slept in the drowsy summer, or gnawed at a flavorous bone, or lifted head to challenge some strange intruder. These are good places, in life or in death. Yet it is a small matter, and it touches sentiment more than anything else.

For if the dog be well remembered, if sometimes he leaps through your dreams actual as in life, eyes kindling, questing, asking, laughing, begging, it matters not at all where that dog sleeps at long and at last. On a hill where the wind is unrebuked and the trees are roaring, or beside a stream he knew in puppyhood, or somewhere in the flatness of a pasture land, where most exhilarating cattle graze. It is all one to the dog, and all one to you, and nothing is gained, and nothing lost -- if memory lives. But there is one best place to bury a dog. One place that is best of all.

If you bury him in this spot, the secret of which you must already have, he will come to you when you call -- come to you over the grim, dim frontiers of death, and down the well-remembered path, and to your side again. And though you call a dozen living dogs to heel they should not growl at him, nor resent his coming, for he is yours and he belongs there.

People may scoff at you, who see no lightest blade of grass bent by his footfall, who hear no whimper pitched too fine for mere audition, people who may never really have had a dog. Smile at them then, for you shall know something that is hidden from them, and which is well worth the knowing.

The one best place to bury a good dog is in the heart of his master.

by Ben Hur Lampman

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