The Dog: A Parable


(left: Scamp–late 1950s; right: Pepper–1990s)

Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean.”–Tennyson, “Songs from The Princess

There will come a time when the dog that loved you unconditionally, that followed you around, tail wagging, the one that you tried to lose or forget will have unknowingly become a part of your life.

And so it is that you will come home one day and the dog will be gone. It will be quite dead or have run away. Perhaps you will be the one to find it lying on the road…

And it may be necessary to bury the dog in the backyard or to take it to the vet who will put it away for you, to deal with the mess, so you can get on with your life.

And a part of you will end that day forever. and you will feel and hear the wind unlike before, late at night. And your bed will be empty, no one or nothing else in it, and you will remember the dog again…

And you shall be sorry that you ever cursed or tried to evade the dog. And you and your life will become much smaller even as the dog continues to grow in depth and memory.

And you shall come to rue the day you said “No’, the day you ever wished for the end of a season or a relationship. You will remember forever that day when you first drew back, that terrible day when you knew you could no longer match another’s affection, the innocent love of a too-loyal dog.


Well…and then there are the larger, more personal missing pieces, absences, and departures. It goes without saying that pets play important roles in our lives; their presence, their love, their innocence are all too obvious, all too palpably experienced right down to death.

We all have to live with many burdens, many guilts and these fill our pasts, lives, and relationships–be they animal or human. I realized as I wrote this, that the latter two come down finally to really much the same thing. And these, in turn, become, perhaps, some of the largest missing pieces of all…

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