Saturday, April 9, 2016

canine companions

A few days ago we'd stopped at one of our stations in the park where a family of crows meet us for lunch (their lunch, that is) when I noticed someone shouting and waving from higher up on a cross path. Since a group of people were passing with their dogs I assumed he was greeting friends and we continued on our way. A few minutes later the young man and his girlfriend caught up with us and, gesturing at the big brown dog they had on a leash, asked if she was ours. Our answer was no, but we patted her and talked to them for a few minutes. They'd found her wandering lost wearing just a collar with no tags. When I asked about the leash he told me it was his belt. I wonder how many young guys wear belts these days? After a few minutes they went off in the opposite direction with the plan of putting a note online before taking her to a shelter. We were kind of sad about the sweet natured beast who appeared to have been abandoned.

Later on our walk we decided to take a different path from one of our usual ones. About ten minutes along it I recognized the big brown dog walking behind a different young couple. As they passed I stopped them briefly to ask how they'd found her and heard, 'She'll go off with anybody'. I should have mentioned she needed some identification but they'd kept on walking and the chance was gone. We were glad to see she'd been reunited with her owners and still just a little bit sad because her owners were idiots. She deserved better ones.

Dharma by Billy Collins

The way the dog trots out the front door
every morning
without a hat or an umbrella,
without any money
or the keys to her dog house
never fails to fill the saucer of my heart
with milky admiration.

Who provides a finer example
of a life without encumbrance—
Thoreau in his curtainless hut
with a single plate, a single spoon?
Ghandi with his staff and his holy diapers?

Off she goes into the material world
with nothing but her brown coat
and her modest blue collar,
following only her wet nose,
the twin portals of her steady breathing,
followed only by the plume of her tail.


  1. Grrrrk! How angry it makes me when I see, or hear of, dog owners who treat their canine companions with such care-less attitudes. Elfie is settling in well here, with love and trust building daily. I cannot imagine how it was like for her to be abandoned in the dog pound. Fortunately, it wasn't for long.

    I love the poem you quoted, my heart going out to Elfie when I watching her going out (always on a leash) for a constitutional with Lucy. Both with Elfie, and with much-loved Molly, I warmed unreservedly to the courage and sometimes stoicism they display in unwanted circumstances. Our dogs have taught me much, not the least by far how much I have learned about love since turning my spiritual life around, and also marrying Lucy, both experiences inextricably intertwined.

    Must stop there!

    1. This is probably the most dog friendly city we've ever known and most of the ones we meet are very well cared for.

      I'm very glad for you and Lucy that Elfie joined your household. That there's much love shared among you is a blessing of the highest order.

  2. Hi Susan
    A wonderful poem and picture story. As they say dogs can be “man and women’s best friend”. I grew up in the country with dogs and cats as companions and later with our children. But these days it’s only those owned by others in the street I get to pat or say hello from time to time. Presumably you do the same whilst on park walks?
    One of my neighbours has 2 service dogs used in her forensic psychology practice. Both use different approaches as the Scottie jumps up on any patients he senses are anxious and barks until he gets their attention and until such time as he feels they are feeling better, whilst the greyhound adopts a more reassuring manner by engaging his head in their lap. When they sense everything is ok they pay no attention to others entering the waiting room. By the time patents get to see her she knows anyone who is overly anxious is already in a much better frame of mind and much more can be accomplished during the consultation. As service dogs of course they require virtually no supervision.
    Both are wonderful dogs and companions with distinctive personalities but equal talents. What is even more amazing is one ( the greyhound ) was very badly treated and rescued from the pound in a deplorable state before finding a wonderful new home with my caring neighbour. He recovered fully under her care . devotion and required virtually no training in his present position as an accredited service dog.
    Best wishes

    1. Hi Lindsay,
      I'm glad you enjoyed them both. I thought the poem was particularly nice. I had one dog in my childhood and another when our son was little (the cat came a bit later). Nowadays, we enjoy saying hello to the ones we meet in the park.
      That's a wonderful story about your neighbour's two service dogs. If only more of them were accepted into professional waiting rooms and work spaces the world would be a better place. The greyhound's recovery reminded me of the wonderful animals in Richard Adams' Plague Dogs.
      All the best

  3. Then she wanders into my yard and takes a dump and I curse her owners for being irresponsible.
    the Ol'Buzzard

    1. There's that too. Still, the idea of putting biodegradable dog waste into non-biodegradable plastic bags seems counterintuitive. Why not teach the dog to go a few steps further into the woods?

  4. ah, it's a dog's life. I like other people's dogs. I don't have to pick up the deposits. I wish Politician's owners would pick up after their pets.

    1. I like other people's dogs too. Mostly because they're far cheaper and you don't have to take them out at ungodly hours into any kind of weather such deities might send.