Monday 15 July 2013


Over on The Dish, Andrew Sullivan has had a huge (even by his standards) response to this post about the dying days of beloved dogs, the moral and emotional challenges they can pose. I'm no dog lover (in a general sense), but I know how strong the bond between human and dog can be, that it's not merely fanciful to call it Love, and that the grief of a dog's death can be very real and intense. And it is largely unrecognised as a serious phenomenon - after all, a dog is 'only a dog', to grieve for one is on the face of it absurd, and it's a subject that's hard to talk about without lapsing into sentimentality or being thought a bit mad. Hence, perhaps, the huge response to Sullivan's honest and open piece - there's a deep well of repressed grief out there.
Probably the best thing written on the subject is Mark Doty's Dog Years - a book to make a dog lover of anyone - which I read recently and was utterly beguiled by the two dogs and genuinely moved by their dying. Doty would surely agree with Sullivan that 'dogs know how to live better than we do. Why would they not know better how to die?'


  1. You could chart the malty's procession through life via the dogs whose lives we have shared and there have been a good number of them. Between our neighbour and ourselves there are nine dogs and one cat buried hereabouts. In mitigation, some belonged to the previous owner and the cat, well, I did enquire once and was met with polite coughing. As I buried the last deceased dog, ten years ago, there was an almighty clap of thunder, frau m thought it was an omen. It was, some days later a fox dug her up, kind of a foxy Burke and Hare. The present two have already picked their spot, overlooking the Eildons and hope we bury them deep enough.
    Hey ho, the joys of canine ownership.

  2. Indeed Malty - still, they last longer than guinea pigs...

  3. Why drag around a degenerate decendant of the noble Wolf, on a chain? To teach us how to die? Good Lord! Dog ownership is the last resort of a failed bully... eco-frog

  4. how very dogmatic of you, ecofrog! let me now say a word for the cat, which walks its own way, and worships its own gods... anonypuss!