Sunday, May 15, 2011

In her right hand, an empty chain leash.

Hemmingway once said that you could tell a story in six words: "For sale.  Baby shoes.  Never worn."

The Czar of Muscovy looks at pets, and captures a very Hemmingwayesque moment.  A reader responds with a longer, but no less poignant story.  The Czar muses:
How strange we are. I know pets aren't children, but we in 21st Century America don't expect to outlive our children and yet we willingly go through the cycles of life and death of our beloved little friends so many times. We know that one day we will be standing outside the vet's office, receiving a small box, and embarking on that same path of pain.
We all of us experience a moment like this.  I know that I did.  Lord Byron's memorial to his beloved Newfoundland, Bosun, is so well known that it is nearly cliche.  Nearly, but the magnificence - and ferocity - of its sentiment saves it:
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.
We have for millennia bread dogs to be Man's perfect companion - to indeed capture all of our virtues.  A creature in whose eyes we see reflected back that man we would wish to be, whether we deserve it or not.

When they pass, grief is their due.  If we're any damn good at all.


libertyman said...

Kipling said it well:

There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
But 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.

And it is those happy memories and moments that keep us getting back in the game.

David aka True Blue Sam said...


If in some far-off, future day,
A stranger's feet should pass this way,
And if his gaze should seek the ground,
Wondering, what lies beneath the mound:
Know that a cat of humble birth
Claims this small portion of the earth.
But I thought not of pedigree,
When, like a child, he came to me,--
A lonely waif, whose piteous cries.
Were mirrored in his frightened eyes.
And so I beg that you will not
Defame or desecrate this spot
By ruthless act or idle jeer,
Though but a cat lies buried here.

JD said...

Rainbow Bridge

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

Author unknown...

The Czar of Muscovy said...

Thanks for the praise, but for the sake of accuracy, it was my correspondent, MCE, whom you quote and not me.

SiGraybeard said...

Funny you should write on this topic. It has been starting to weigh on my heart lately. Another one of those silly human things we do is attach special meaning to anniversaries and other dates, and I'm approaching one of those.

I think the difference is we never expect to outlive our children because in the "normal course of life" we don't - at least here in the western world. We don't have the same expectations for our pets as we do for our children; we're not raising them to be of good character and a bright spot in a mean, dirty world. We're not raising them to be self-reliant, independent adults. If they love some cat or dog equivalent of Krispy Kremes, what real harm is there? We simply know our pets will bring us many years of enjoyment and unconditional love in exchange for those awful, awful hours with the small box.

Some relation to my brother by marriage once told me they had imposed their vegetarianism on their cat, feeding it oatmeal. It's the "everyone's a vegetarian if that's all there is to eat" theory. And they were surprised when the cat ran away. I don't impose any such beliefs on my cats. In exchange, I get excited greetings when I get home from work, and entreated not to leave in the morning.

There's a parallel story to the "Rainbow Bridge" that I like even better, but some other time.