Saturday, March 15, 2014

A Dog I Knew

"She kissed the best, a dog I knew..."

      What draws us to dogs (and other animals)? Rudyard Kipling wrote a powerful poem The Power of the Dog in which he tells the reader:

         "There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day; so 
Brothers and Sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.

      Throughout the poem he mentions various attributes of dogs, their loyalty, their unwavering enthusiasm, their lack of criticism, their excitement at your arrival home, etc. and eventually concludes with:
"When the spirit that answered your every mood 

Is gone--wherever it goes--for good, 
You will discover how much you care, 
And will give your heart to a dog to tear."

       It is the same realization dog lovers arrive at time and again. The same reason why people often have pets throughout their lifetime. I have often thought about how dogs also mark the passage of time. In their roughly decade plus with us, they appear in photographs that see us through birthdays, Christmases, graduations, etc. Maybe they were in the corner of that treasured picture showing the day you brought your son home, and then suddenly around his 12th birthday...gone.

"If you do not offer all you 
have to Love,
you will live this life free of that
pain which makes it worth living."  - Kheir 

      This verse made me think twice, because people generally think of love as painless, one of the veritable pleasures of life. Then I began to realize that with love comes heartbreak (romantic) and loss (platonic, familial, etc.). Loving someone ensures that we care enough to be hurt if that person or animal were to be taken from our lives, but at the same time Kheir, like the many other Sufi poets, knows it is the very truth that makes life worth living. Once you have had a dog (or another animal), a life without one pales in comparison. As Mary Oliver, dog lover and poet, said when interviewed about her latest book, Dog Songs, “Because of dogs' joyfulness, our own is increased. Joy is no small gift.” 

(my current dog)

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