Rejoice in the Dog
I have any beliefs about immortality,
it is that certain dogs I have known will go to heaven,
and very, very few persons."
- James Thurber
IN MEMORY OF OSCAR
the most admirable being that I ever knew
Click on the picture
to find out where dogs come from.
kicks a dog kicks himself deeper into Hell.
Non sum qualis
sub Regno Oscaris.
Our world, for dogs, is like a bewildering film in which they
are brave and trapped.
The difference between us and all other animals
is that our consciousness is intentive
whereas theirs is attentive.
Dogs are trapped by our intention
- and by our inattention.
many places on this earth
cruelty to dogs is considered meritorious -
and in some dog-meat is considered tastier
if the animal is beaten to death
as it hangs from a noose.
in Media (later Persia) the Zoroastrian priests would bring a
dog to the bedside of a dying person, to be fed a morsel so that
it would lead the deceased across the Bridge of Separation to
be judged. The dog was the leader of the soul - the psychopomp
- to life after death, and the wild or feral dog was (along with
the vultures) the devourer of the exposed corpse's flesh in the
wonderful Towers of Silence which Parsis still use.
the Egyptians with a mortuary practice directly opposite to that
of the Zarathustran Medes, Anubis the jackal was the god of embalming
- that is to say of preparation for and introduction to the Otherworld.
care not for a man's
whose cat and dog are not the better for it.
"Take my pups. You will raise
them and call them Dog. They will be your
guardians. They will alert you to danger, keep you warm,
camp, and even lay down their life to protect your life
and the lives of
your children. They will be companions to you and all
never leaving your side, as long as Mankind shall survive.
you will share your food and the warmth of your fire.
You will treat my
children with love and kindness, and tend them if they
just as if they were born from your own belly. "
Man and First Woman agreed. ... Before she disappeared
darkness, she turned and spoke once more to First Man,
"My children will
honor the pact for all generations. But if Man breaks
this pact, if you
or your children's children deny even one Dog food, warmth,
a kind word
or a merciful end, your generations will be plagued with
and disease, and so shall this remain until the pact is
honored again by
all Mankind." With this, First Dog entered the night
and returned in
spirit to the Creator.
from The Pact of the Fire - Lakota Sioux Legend
The nearest to
I have known
since I was a boy
on my own
in an attic of junk
is seeing the joy
in my teacher,
my therioracular dog
as he gnaws at a bone
or romps in a field
or plays tug-of-war with a brush.
our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy
To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon
is to be back in Eden,
where doing nothing was not boring - but was peace.
THE COURAGE OF MY CONVICTIONS
This other being
so different, distinct,
so intimate - he is
"my dog" !
And in the fog
of awareness he is my longing,
he is my saving grace,
he is the joy from which
the other joys progress.
Humans don't say
how they feel -
does this mean they don't feel
or don't know how to feel
or don't know how to put words to
how they feel ?
Dogs show how they feel
but few humans bother to notice.
Even though they
live in the moment,
even in leaping and bounding joy
they display the inconsolable sadness of being.
What I love about
dogs (apart from their loveliness
companionablility, amazing tolerance)
is their Theory of Mind.
With every human I am more or less guarded,
but with "my dog" I can be
my silly self.
In the world of humanity
I am the Owner of Oscar -
this humble, enthusiastic, transparent
But in the real world
the world of awareness
he is a Master of Life.
Now the Lord of
Truth (my vassal !)
the Terror of Lawnmowers,
the puller of yardbrushes, comes
in his smiling humility to tell me
how much he enjoyed the pear-skins
and rather old hummous
he had for his dinner.
Click the picture for more and bigger.
well-behaved dog is an absolute delight,
but an ill-behaved dog is a tragedy.
(To my Doctor - and my Dog.)
I spend each day
recovering from the dread
disappointment of waking up
from addled sleep.
At night, exhausted
I creep back to bed.
Along with Schrödinger's
I am a hole
inside a hole
staring out at a fog.
O to have the brilliant
connectedness of a dog!
There is an Islamic
"When a dog barks, angels flee"
- which does not say much for angels
or their inventors.
Nor can one pray where a dog has been.
Oscar (who never barks
nor licks anyone but himself)
lies on a fine Beluchi prayer-rug
I consider how comparatively tolerant I am
even to talk to carnivores and breeders.
and Dogs >
Gnawing my bone: a poem
of life about death
about time and continuation -
a connection far beyond words
in its fine satisfaction.
There is only
between poet and pet.
I am just a spineless
kind of dog.
My dog-choice is
the arse of every
truth and mystery.
In the prison of
the deep philosophy of dogs
is to behave as if
we are going to be half-decent to them,
as if we were worth knowing -
indeed, even as if we were worth serving.
Every one of them
most of their lives waiting for us to
do something beautiful
is holier than Jesus
or St. Francis of Assisi.
beneath the crucified Christ's cast-iron pain
briefly redeems the Calvary
from millennia of unwholesome banality.
In every human prance and prowl
the shadows of our shame.
In his 'Book of the
Hunt' (begun in 1387), the Gascon
Gaston Febus de Foix-Béarn had great praise for dogs:
dog is loyal to his master with the best and truest of love.
The dog hath great understanding, knowledge and judgement. The
dog hath great fortitude and goodness. The dog hath a fine memory.
The dog hath a great sense of smell. The dog hath great diligence
and power. The dog is valiant with great valour and is greatly
subtile. The dog hath much nimbleness and power of perception.
The dog receiveth orders well, for he learns as quickly as doth
a man. Much frollicking is in a dog. Dogs are such fine creatures
that rare is the man who desireth not one for this purpose or
Click the picture to
see the Spirit of Oscar
When dogs become
they will surely capture
carcasses and each other's genitals.
A POEM ABOUT NOTHING
Oscar and I
at last - someone
I can respect.
dogs talk mainly with their eyes
Dogs are not creatures
of habit - but thus
correctly they interpret us.
Oscar and I:
two halves of the same consciousness!
he wanting to be in the woods
I wanting to be close to the woods
and the cliffs and the river Aveyron.
People are no more autonomous than
but dogs are much more wholesome.
the sound of a tail wagging
the inconsolable sadness of being.
the beginning, God and his Dog
created the world."
Indian Creation Story
The soul of a dog will
fill a field
while human spirits bloat in ditches.
Elgar included a portrait of a friend's dog in his Variations
on an Original Theme (Enigma),
and Fauré described his dog Ketty
in his Dolly Suite,
the only composer I know to have written music for dogs was Erik
Satie, who wrote Deux Préludes pour un Chien; Préludes
Flasques (pour un chien) comprising Idylle Cynique, Chanson
Canine, Sous la Futaille; and Véritables Préludes
Flasques comprising Sévère Réprimande,
Seul à la Maison, On Joue.
who sympathetically observed dogs more than most were the Czechs
Rainer Maria Rilke and Miroslav Holub. And another Czech, Milan
Kundera, is a cynophile.
BONE TO BONE
homage to Vasko Popa
Apart from everyone
I listen to the crows
And admire the blood-red
Japanese Quince flowers in April
With Cyrillic teeth
While I practise Howling
Which is poetry
'IT TAKES ONE TO KNOW ONE'
dog is a Bodhisattva
and, like all true Bodhisattvas,
recognised only by his
from 'The Observations
Cats also return to their vomit
cats eat cats.
reprinted by kind permission of
If you need Religion
rescue a dog and worship him (or her) -
there is nothing more worth worshipping than living fur.
But god said: To be
is to be put upon.
In Tibet there is a Dog Monastery,
a special temple for wayward monks who have re-incarnated
into dogs. The grounds are covered in dogs of every size,
shape, breed and hue, silently pondering the cycle of birth
litters of puppies wriggle underneath their mothers and
their distinguished elders nap in the patches of sun breaking
through the clouds. There is no barking, no howling, no
fighting, and - miracles of miracles - no fæces: nothing
but the quiet meditation of dogs and monks. You are allowed
to feed the dogs small pieces of dough, and they actually
wait in line!
I think of Tibet, I remember the politeness of the dogs,
pulling back their dog lips and ever so gently taking the
food from my hand with their open teeth, not wanting to
bite my hand accidentally - and then looking warmly into
my eyes with a silent thanks.
longer version of this account by Margaret
Chu can be seen at: http://www.fleetfiretimbers.com/FFT/Articles/TibetanDogMonastery.htm
the subtle animals sense surely
that we aren't at all at home
in our description of the world."
The dog chained up
amongst his shit: his freeing
less a kidnap than an elopement.
Oscar and I are together
all the hours of the day.
Were my dog and I dreaming
of each other ?
Now my foreskin-cheese
sought out by Oscar
no longer goes to waste.
a croissant-tail droops
as I read haiku to my dog.
Quiet rain. Dogs express
so much silently - why must
we make so much noise ?
The Year of the Dog
has come and gone unnoticed
by his divinity.
Our lives intertwined
Oscar and I check up on
each other's fæces.
Inseeing: a dog
becomes a window through which
I view my blindness.
I drink the wine
while Oscar chews the cork.
Sun behind mist.
Oscar howls piteously:
his ball is stuck in a bush.
Woods in May:
The glory of a dog,
The shadow that is man.
our only creation as beautiful as dogs.
remember that dogs also
were roasted alive.
My dog rolling:
None of the menace of men
Dog on the
Seagull feather scuds along
and almost flies.
Oscar: the liberty to tell him
of my love twenty times a day.
my dog failed to see
two butterflies on his bone.
of which there are millions
and were millions of millions.)
Canine and capitalism:
the best in my life costs the least.
Failing to find the divine
in any human or pseudo-
superhuman, I found it in my dog.
Oscar and I gaze
at each other - each recognising
The only God
is Dog and there
are wonderfully many.
Rain on the window -
and Oscar's claws are scratching
on the thick front door.
Oscar is in touch with
his mobile bone.
Unless they see it
no-one believes that he picks
For a saint or dog
what is not mystery
Oscar and I
each dreaming of bones.
Better than sex:
Jewish Spring Shekinah:
I celebrate the moulting God.
nose on my pillow:
suits me and my dog.
Rolling in another dog's shit -
Oscar is doubly divine.
Oscar bites the lawnmower -
such purpose in life!
In the world we've turned to pain
his beauty is almost
This is not a picture of either of us.
are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or
To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to
be back in Eden,
where doing nothing was not boring - it was peace.
THIS IS NOT
Crunching a plastic
bottle, Oscar almost remembers
the bones of newborn mammoths.
OSCAR IN HEAVEN
in his bowl
treatment of dogs is such that when they are not suffering from
our neglect or cruelty (or both), they are bored out of their
They are the only animals who can leave the Real World and enter
ours with compassion and eagerness;
they have a more intelligent interest in us than we do in them.
We, on the other hand, governed by intention rather than attention,
make no concessions to them and can't even read their faces,
much less enter their untainted minds.
Thus 'lower' intelligences may have 'higher' consciousness.
indeed in a moral sense, because, as Jeffrey Masson points out,
dogs are infinitely forgiving. The average dog is more forgiving
than the most forgiving human who has ever lived:
"A young man brought his dog with him
into a boat, rowed to the middle of the Seine, and threw the
animal overboard to drown. The poor dog kept trying to clamber
back into the boat, and his 'master' kept pushing him back into
the water until, overbalancing, he too went into the water.
As soon as the faithful dog saw his master in the river, he
swam from the boat and held him above water until help arrived
from the shore, and his [nasty, cruel] life was saved."-
from Animal Biography, anonymously published in 1842.
They treat us like gods.
We treat them like things.
the Physiologus, the early-mediæval source of the
late-mediæval Bestiaries, dogs are praised for "having
more understanding than any other beast" - and for
knowing their name and loving their master. Dogs "are
like preachers who by warnings and by righteous living turn
aside the ambushes of the Devil...As the dog's tongue heals
a wound by licking, so the wounds of sin are cleansed by the
instruction of the priest when they are laid bare in confession"
do so many humans crave Magical Beings
when magical beings are all around us
as we exterminate them ?
If you will not worship animals
you will never experience the Divine.