I was browsing through Brainpickings (you should bookmark it right away) and saw this excellent article on dogs. The dog-lover in me found it impossible to give it a miss. So I read it and found this poem below:

For days the good old bitch had been dying, her back
pinched down to the spine and arched to ease the pain,
her kidneys dry, her muzzle white. At last
I took a shovel into the woods and dug her grave

in preparation for the certain. She came along,
which I had not expected. Still, the children gone,
such expeditions were rare, and the dog,
spayed early, knew no nonhuman word for love.

She made her stiff legs trot and let her bent tail wag.
We found a spot we liked, where the pines met the field.
The sun warmed her fur as she dozed and I dug;
I carved her a safe place while she protected me.

I measured her length with the shovel’s long handle;
she perked in amusement, and sniffed the heaped-up earth.
Back down at the house, she seemed friskier,
but gagged, eating. We called the vet a few days later.

They were old friends. She held up a paw, and he
injected a violet fluid. She swooned on the lawn;
we watched her breathing quickly slow and cease.
In a wheelbarrow up to the hole, her warm fur shone.

– “Another Dog’s Death” by John Updike

And it makes me wonder about the insanity of having a dog in the first place. Or more specifically, how do we “reconcile the inevitable pain we invite into our lives when we commit to love a being biologically destined to die before we do and the boundless joy of choosing to love anyway”?

Perhaps, it is just a very human need to feel needed. Or selfishly, we want someone/something to adore us just because. I mean, you have to admit that such unconditional love is hard to come by from our fellow homo sapiens.

Dogs, on the other hand, are remarkably indiscriminate when it comes to love – maybe that is why they are so ridiculously easy to love as well?

Which brings me to that quote I jotted down a couple of posts ago – “It hurts just as much as it is worth.”

It does ring true, but much too often, I wish true things are less brutally honest.


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