One of my Facebook friends has the sad task today of having to say goodbye to one of her basenjis. As I read the comments to her post, I was reminded of a line from a poem I read once, “give your heart to a dog to tear,” but I couldn’t remember if it was one of those rare serious ones by Ogden Nash, or if it was by James Thurber. I “googled” the line and found out I was wrong on both counts. It was by Rudyard Kipling, and it’s titled “The Power of the Dog.” And here it is. Get out a tissue.
The Power of the Dog
by Rudyard Kipling
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.
Buy a pup and your money will buy
Love unflinching that cannot lie–
Perfect passion and worship fed
By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
Nevertheless it is hardly fair
To risk your heart for a dog to tear.
When the fourteen years which Nature permits
Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fits,
And the vet’s unspoken prescription runs
To lethal chambers or loaded guns,
Then you will find–it’s your own affair–
But…you’ve given your heart for a dog to tear.
When the body that lived at your single will,
With its whimper of welcome, is stilled (how still!);
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 for the dog to tear.
We’ve sorrow enough in the natural way,
When it comes to burying Christian clay.
Our loves are not given, but only lent,
At compound interest of cent per cent.
Though it is not always the case, I believe,
That the longer we’ve kept ‘em, the more do we grieve:
For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,
A short-time loan is as bad as a long–
So why in Heaven (before we are there)
Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?
This is for Ju-Dee and her Phoebe. “The falcon has flown to the sun.”
Someone's precious pup
My version of the basic “brown paper exercise.” Still a work in progress.
I have finished the drawing of Tag, the Blue Heeler/Australian Cattle Dog for the friend of my cousin who has been waiting for it for some time. Mea culpa, I plead technical difficulties which delayed my starting on it sooner.
But I’m not posting a photo of the finished product until after it’s in the hands of it’s new owner. That only seems fair. Instead I offer a first look at a new project, which is a *secret, Christmas present* project, that I may not be able to show further progress on until after it, too, has gone to its new home.
Just a bunch of lines at the moment
I’m pleased to report that I’ll have this finished and in the hands of it’s rightful owner before Christmas. The light has been kind of iffy lately — we actually had some cloudy and overcast days in this part of Drought Central. Of course those clouds produced very little in the way of rain. Now that we’re back in the grips of the all-sun-all-the-time weather pattern, I can get some more art work done.
Closing in on done
Recent work on my drawing of “Tag.” He sure has been good at “holding still!”
Coming right along
It’s been a while since I posted a picture that I was working on, mainly because I haven’t been doing any artwork for a while. I forget how relaxing it is. Very “grounding” and de-stressing work, like I guess yoga is supposed to be. Anyway, this is a portrait of a dog that belongs to a friend of one of my cousins. Cute, huh? Updates to follow.
Still a ways to go
A little more in focus
A former co-worker had a bumper sticker that said,”Oh, no. Not another learning experience.” I feel just like that today, with all my sore muscles, after planning and executing the Responsible Dog Ownership Day event for the local kennel club I belong to. I learned a few things.
- It’s never too soon to start planning an event, but it’s possible to start planning too late.
- The volunteer helpers you start with may not be the same ones you finish with.
- If you’re in charge, it may mean you’ll be doing everything.
- People who don’t want the job usually keep their mouths shut about how well you’re doing — or not.
- You will always get way more suggestions for things to do than volunteers to help make it all happen.
- No one will complain that it was over too soon.
I have never thought of myself as a “people person” or a “joiner” or even a little bit outgoing, so taking on a job like this was a bit like volunteering to go roll around in a fire ant mound. One of those “What the HELL was I thinking!?” moments. It has always been my habit, when someone gets upset about something I’ve done, to think that they are mad at me, they blame me, they don’t like me. Me, me, me. But we all learn with age, sometimes even when we try real hard not to, and I’ve discovered that it’s not always about me. Who’d've thunk it?
I don’t mean to give the impression that the event was a failure, or a disaster, or that everyone was mad at me at the end. This is more about the nightmares I was having for the weeks leading up to it than anything that happened on that day. I always imagine the worst. I was expecting nit-picking and criticism every step of the way. I expected to come under fire for a long list of things I “should” have done, but wasn’t able to do because I realized it would be entirely up to me to make it happen, and I just didn’t have the time.
But the long and the short of it is that I will probably volunteer to plan the RDO Day again next year, because I learned a lot, and I had fun. Only this time, I plan to start planning next week.
A not-so-scientific study.
I sometimes wonder about the effects of domestication on dog behavior. I mean to say I wonder idly — not seriously. Because seriously, sometimes dogs are so funny, I wouldn’t want to change them. Mine have always been invaluable boredom-alleviators, as well as entertainers and anti-depressants. Speculating on why they do the things they do provides me with hours of amusement. Reading a book on dog behavior by some expert would just spoil the whole exercise.
Take nest-building. The Old Guy, of course, was Chief High Nest-Builder and Blanket Wrestler. He would scrunch his blanket all over the living room floor in an effort to get it wadded to his exacting specifications. I never knew where he would end up — I always had to just go out of my way as much as necessary not to disturb him when I left the room.
Now it’s The Puppy’s turn. He used to be satisfied with his blanket folded neatly on the floor next to the sofa — truthfully, he used to be satisfied with curling up on the carpet, but the end of winter was pretty chilly here, so I thought he might like a little more insulation. (And, yes, I may be the only person on the planet with basenjis who don’t live on my furniture. When I moved in with my dad and brother, the dogs had to learn a whole new set of rules — The Puppy, of course, grew up as a floor dog.) After months of curling himself up neatly on the folded blanket, said Puppy one day started channeling The Old Guy. He wasn’t happy with a merely rumpled blanket. He had to get it all the way into a tight little wadded-up bundle. Which got me wondering — do dogs in their “natural state” go to such extremes? You would think that beyond a certain amount of “fluffing,” the return on energy expended would bottom out. But I don’t know. Or maybe I’ve just had some especially particular nest fluffers. Or maybe the domestication process — all that selective breeding for being nice to people and not eating them and all — sort of shorted out a few circuits and now they just don’t know when they’re “finished” with their nest. I wonder if I could get funding to do a study. Hmm.
The Old Guy in his "bankee"
I figured I was getting so good at making planets and stars and comets, and the tiny dragons turned out pretty cute, that I just had to try my hand at making tiny dogs. It was inevitable, right? Plus, one of my doggy friends asked me if I could sculpt her dog, Jelly, whose portrait I did a while back. I didn’t want Jelly to be lonely, so I also made a tiny Puppy. These are obviously not to scale. A basenji the size of a Doberman would be a terrifying prospect, indeed.
Chubby Puppy Figurines