If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Sunday, 10 June 2012

One for you animal lovers

Poems about animals are usually cheesy.  Poems about the death of animals are usually a mature Stilton in a cheese sauce, topped with grated Parmesan and with a side-order of extra cheese.  Served in a tea-room in Wensleydale.  This one is different.  It speaks to a different part of the brain than the mushy, sentimental bit, and is actually rather good.

I posted about the death of Bonkers Dog on a bike forum I visit, and I had some very sympathetic and compassionate responses.  Anyone who thinks bikers are a bunch of beer-swilling hard-cases should read the thread - it's just a massive, international, cross-gender group hug.  I was very touched by the reaction of many people I have never met.  A lovely lady who posts as Sparky675 posted this poem.  Thank you, Sparky.

If you have ever lost an animal companion, prepare to have your tears jerked.

A Dog's Will

When humans die, they make a will
To leave their homes and all they have to those they love.
I, too, would make a will if I could write.

To some poor wistful, lonely stray
I leave my happy home,
My dish, my cozy bed, my cushioned chair, my toy.

To a scared shelter dog, I leave my family,
The well loved lap, the gentle stroking hand,
The loving voice who spoke my name.

And the place I made in someone’s heart,
The love that at the last could help me to
A peaceful painless end
Held in loving arms.

When I die, oh do not say,
“No more a pet I’ll have, to grieve me by its loss”
Seek out some lonely, unloved dog
And give my place to him.

This is the legacy I leave behind -
’tis all I have to give.

Author Unknown

OK, call me a sentimental old git, but it has made me think very hard about making the next Bonkers Dog a rescue dog.  Plenty of room in Nowhere Towers for the rejected and unloved nutcases of the animal world.

What's one more, after all?


  1. Do be careful about this, especially if feeling particularly emotional or if you have other responsibilities.

    Yes, rescue dogs can work out well but it can sometimes take a lot of work and - how to put this tactfully - impose obligations on other family members who might not have signed up for them.

    I've seen people become very fraught when they have tried to take on animals with problems which really require a keeper who is present all the time and can work with them intensively.

    May I suggest waiting for a while and possibly approach the dog-rehoming charity at your local hospital? Every year there are owners who have to go in to hospital and probably won't be coming back or not in a way which permits them to look after their dog.

    These dogs often have to be put down for want of a keeper although they are sound animals, often with a few years on the clock and so not puppyish.

    When taking in one of these dogs it can often help the owner enormously because they then don't feel guilty about Rover and they don't worry that the pet is being neglected. Thus it helps two creatures; three if you count yourself.

    1. We intend to wait for a while. I have a short holiday planned with my daughter, and then we are going to indulge ourselves in a few days off here and there as work permits, enjoying not having to pay more for kennels than we do for a camping pitch :) We'll probably look for something towards the end of the summer, I think. Your words are well heeded, though. We did give a home to a rescue dog once, and it worked out badly. A young psychopath, it terrorised our elderly Springer and started to attack the livestock in the next field, so it had to go back to the rehoming place. We will be much more wary about doing it again. I know of a charity that rehomes retired sniffer dogs (and similar) and that might be a good place to look. Tanks for the tip about the hospital. I hadn't thought of that, but it make a lot of sense. I certainly don't want to burden Anna (who is at home full-time) with a 'project' just because I fancy playing white knight to a loveable stray. Thank you for such a thoughtful comment.

  2. Warning: this poem really is the one to make you weep:

    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 to 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 to a 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?

    1. Kipling always hits the spot, doesn't he? I had read tis long ago and had forgotten about it. I am glad to have been reminded. Thanks for posting.

  3. Rescue dogs are not all villains. When we finally moved to a house with a dog-friendly garden, that's all we ever considered. The hardest part was leaving those who didn't fit the bill behind, and having looked in several homes that were chock-full of retired greyhounds and destructive terriers we had almost decided to stop looking. It was all too distressing.

    Our last call was Battersea, where we found a young retriever-collie cross who's now been a joy for fifteen years. We think that she had been abandoned because she is missing a few toes - they are not all rejected for "understandable" reasons!

    It just seemed that a cute, new puppy would easily find a home, where an older dog was at least as deserving. The detail that we fell for a dog who has been long-lived is simply a bonus.

    We meet a fair few rescued dogs around here, and although some have some curious hang-ups (our Holly has her share, but all fall into the "character" category), none have had to be returned. However many of the rescued seem to go to homes that already have another established dog - the incomer does learn from the resident.

    I do like WoaRs suggestion for finding an older dog from the hospital re-homers. I have a friend who was taken in several this way and he's never had a problem. Perhaps the dogs have already adapted to an older owner, or do older owners just tend to have more placid dogs?

    1. Our one experience of a rescue dog was a villain! I wonder if it was because of the thing you describe - too distressing to leave any of them behind. We had to return him, but we later found out he had a new career as a guard dog for a lady who lived alone, so there was a happy ending. I will definitely consider a rescue dog this time, but I will be a damn sight more careful when checking background, behaviour etc.

      I rather like the idea of a placid older dog. Bonkers Dog didn't get placid until the last few weeks of his life. Worth the wait, perhaps.

    2. Checking the background and behaviour is a bit of a tick-box excercise. The card on the side of the kennel gave us the dogs gender (could work that one out for myself), whether it was good with cats and/or children, and a rough idea of age.

      With the smaller kennels, sometimes the Head Keeper knew a bit more having accepted the animal in the first place, but there was a basic assumption that you understood that every dog was going to be a new challenge.

      A friend recently adopted a Bull Terrier from Battersea, and it was tested with cats as he has them at home. The test cat lived....

  4. Beautiful poem Richard. We never think of it from a pet's point of view.

    I haven't had much experience with dogs but both our cats were strays, one from a shelter that had been to two homes before ours. We never regretted Baxter even though he was a little vocal and could drive us nuts scratching the furniture. We still miss him dearly and it has been almost 4 years now.

    1. Rescue Cats - now there's a whole nother can of worms, to mix my metaphors. One Rescue Cat is enough to be going on with, thank you.

  5. I somehow feel that it is nice for an animal to enter your life by fate. 2 out of 3 of Mrs N's cats have arrived this way (Ginger found abandoned in an old village house in Greece) and Cognac fostered at a nice Biker hotel near Calais. Maybe this is not so easy with dogs. Also easier in Europe without quarantine regs!

    I'm sure that nothing like this will happen during your upcoming escursion au Continent. (Whena nd where will you be in Germany?).

  6. Rescue Cat was fate/chance/serendipity. Bonkers Dog was just a chancer.

    I hope the trip is uneventful for Anna, who is guarding the fort and will have to deal with any animal incidents. The current plan (which remains distressingly fluid) is to motor down as far as Nancy or a little further, then cross into Germishland and come back at a slower pace through the Black Forest and Rhine valley. All that is fixed is a start and finish in Calais. We're leaving on Thursday for about a week.

  7. "OK, call me a sentimental old git......". You are a sentimental old git.


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