I’ve never understood people who don’t like dogs. I’ll come right out and say it. I understand being afraid of dogs ( I was bit as a child) And I even understand preferring cats. But to never have that utter love and devotion that a dog gives? I feel bad for those people. I am a true dog person. I will walk into your house and your dog will knock into me, climb on me and slobber on my pants. And I don’t mind. I love giving dog kisses and don’t even mind hot dog breath. There is nothing quite like the love of a big, dumb dog. (I’m working on my love for little dogs, I swear.) There is something so pure and true about the love and affection of a dog.
Through my life I’ve said goodbye to many childhood and family dogs. Shadow, Max, Fanny, Higgins, Brother, Ruffie… plus cats and rabbits and rats and who knows how many fish. My great grandmother, who was a true animal lover, used to tell me that when you died all the animals you ever loved would be on the stairs as you walked up to heaven. I’m not sold on the heaven idea, but if my afterlife doesn’t involve some sort of reunion with my pets, I’m not sure I want to go there.
Today Nathan and I said goodbye to our first baby, our beloved and beautiful dog Madra. She’s been a loyal and loving part of our family for over 12 years. Madra lived a good, long life. She was absolutely the most patient dog I have ever met. Two squealing babies she welcomed into her home, two rambunctious toddlers climbing on her back and poking her in the face, two loud little boys she loved, watched over and of course licked clean. To the end, even though she was half-blind and covered in tumors, she allowed them to climb on her, kick her off the sofa and wrestle over her. She was rewarded with many dropped treats and even stole her fair share from their hands.
She loved belly scratches and had the uncanny ability to remove a full mug of tea from the dining room table without spilling any. She chased the UPS truck with abandon, caught many a gopher and loved to roll in the grass and gravel. She could eviscerate a squeaky toy in seconds flat. She loved to swim on the river and sun herself on the banks. She loved to get under the covers and play what we called “dogasaurus”. During the holidays, she would wait patiently for her presents, unwrapping them with vigor. She followed us around the house, never happy if we were behind closed doors or away for too long. She routinely kicked me off the sofa, her rightful place, although the cat could still scare her off with a brush of the paw.
She was my best friend. Our baby girl. True to her name she was DOG. Through and through. Noble, loyal and beloved. She died with her head on my lap in the shade of a favorite tree. She will be missed.
Epitaph to a Dog
Near this Spot
are deposited the Remains of one
who possessed Beauty without Vanity,
Strength without Insolence,
Courage without Ferocity,
and all the Virtues of Man without his Vices.
This praise, which would be unmeaning Flattery
if inscribed over human Ashes,
is but a just tribute to the Memory of
BOATSWAIN, a DOG,
who was born in Newfoundland May 1803,
and died at Newstead Nov 18th, 1808.
When some proud son of man returns to earth,
Unknown by glory, but upheld by birth,
The sculptor’s art exhausts the pomp of woe,
And stories urns record that rests below.
When all is done, upon the tomb is seen,
Not what he was, but what he should have been.
But the poor dog, in life the firmest friend,
The first to welcome, foremost to defend,
Whose honest heart is still his master’s own,
Who labors, fights, lives, breathes for him alone,
Unhonored falls, unnoticed all his worth,
Denied in heaven the soul he held on earth –
While man, vain insect! hopes to be forgiven,
And claims himself a sole exclusive heaven.
Oh man! thou feeble tenant of an hour,
Debased by slavery, or corrupt by power –
Who knows thee well must quit thee with disgust,
Degraded mass of animated dust!
Thy love is lust, thy friendship all a cheat,
Thy smiles hypocrisy, thy words deceit!
By nature vile, ennoble but by name,
Each kindred brute might bid thee blush for shame.
Ye, who perchance behold this simple urn,
Pass on – it honors none you wish to mourn.
To mark a friend’s remains these stones arise;
I never knew but one – and here he lies.