Monday, November 1, 2010

Ode to a dog

All the care in the world can disappear for a moment if you can play with a dog. Its cheeriness is contagious. It's a tried and tested fact. I have gotten through death, despair, agony, failure and heartbreak with the help of my dog.

She was my pillow; I could hold her with my cheek pressed against her soft fur as long as I needed.

She was my counselor; patient while I told her every little grievance I had with the world and its neighbours, staring at me comfortingly with soulful brown eyes. As if she knew and understood everything I was going through. As if saying, "I understand. Mmm Hmm... So how does that make you feel?"

She was my playmate, always ready to entertain my spurts of nervous energy with a game of catch.

She was my toy; always ready to take a joke even if it was on her. I named her Nicole Kiddog in jest and she never once complained even when the world laughed at us. 

She was my best friend. Always welcoming, even when I returned home after forever with nothing to offer but a smile and a handshake.

She was my parent. Forgiving of my inequities and loving unconditionally. And always always ready to give what she had.

I miss her more than words can say.

This poem is by Pablo Neruda.

For Nikki.

A dog has died

My dog has died.
I buried him in the garden
next to a rusted old machine.
Some day I'll join him right there,
but now he's gone with his shaggy coat,
his bad manners and his cold nose,
and I, the materialist, who never believed
in any promised heaven in the sky
for any human being,
I believe in a heaven I'll never enter.
Yes, I believe in a heaven for all dogdom
where my dog waits for my arrival
waving his fan-like tail in friendship.

Ai, I'll not speak of sadness here on earth,
of having lost a companion
who was never servile.
His friendship for me, like that of a porcupine
withholding its authority,
was the friendship of a star, aloof,
with no more intimacy than was called for,
with no exaggerations:
he never climbed all over my clothes
filling me full of his hair or his mange,
he never rubbed up against my knee
like other dogs obsessed with sex.

No, my dog used to gaze at me,
paying me the attention I need,
the attention required
to make a vain person like me understand
that, being a dog, he was wasting time,
but, with those eyes so much purer than mine,
he'd keep on gazing at me
with a look that reserved for me alone
all his sweet and shaggy life,
always near me, never troubling me,
and asking nothing.

Ai, how many times have I envied his tail
as we walked together on the shores of the sea
in the lonely winter of Isla Negra
where the wintering birds filled the sky
and my hairy dog was jumping about
full of the voltage of the sea's movement:
my wandering dog, sniffing away
with his golden tail held high,
face to face with the ocean's spray.

Joyful, joyful, joyful,
as only dogs know how to be happy
with only the autonomy
of their shameless spirit.

There are no good-byes for my dog who has died,
and we don't now and never did lie to each other.

So now he's gone and I buried him,
and that's all there is to it.

Translated, from the Spanish, by Alfred Yankauer


  1. Sorry for your loss! We too lost our dearest companion, Pepper, a couple of months back! It brought tears to my eyes and cherished memories of Pepper...

  2. Oh I am so sorry too! It's so sad when these things happen! I don't know how you can ever get over it.


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