Wednesday, July 22, 2015

For Bill

One of the members of my tribe lost his beloved dog the other day. One minute he was there and then some thirty minutes later he was gone. Toby died in his sleep, at home, where he was loved and cherished. Would that I could have such an ending.

Most of us have had pets we loved with all the intensity one can muster for a fellow creature. They are loving, each in their own way, and quite patient with their human companions. When they pass, the light is a bit dimmer, there is a little less joy in the places they left behind.

No one who has ever lost a beloved dog or cat will ever forget that moment, just after you realize that they are gone. The world stops for a moment, the sadness is nearly unbearable, then you start remembering the times you had together.

The pain never goes away, but it lessens with time. The memories of the time together last forever. And ever.

Epitaph to a Dog

Near this Spot
are deposited the Remains of one
who possessed Beauty without Vanity,
Strength without Insolence,
Courage without Ferosity,
and all the virtues of Man without his Vices.
This praise, which would be unmeaning Flattery
if inscribed over human Ashes,
is but a just tribute to the Memory of
who was born in Newfoundland May 1803
and died at Newstead Nov. 18th, 1808.

When some proud Son of Man returns to Earth,
Unknown to Glory but upheld by Birth,
The sculptor’s art exhausts the pomp of woe,
And storied urns record who rests below:
When all is done, upon the Tomb is seen
Not what he was, but what he should have been.
But the poor Dog, in life the firmest friend,
The first to welcome, foremost to defend,
Whose honest heart is still his Master’s own,
Who labours, fights, lives, breathes for him alone,
Unhonour’d falls, unnotic’d all his worth,
Deny’d in heaven the Soul he held on earth:
While man, vain insect! hopes to be forgiven,
And claims himself a sole exclusive heaven.
Oh man! thou feeble tenant of an hour,
Debas’d by slavery, or corrupt by power,
Who knows thee well, must quit thee with disgust,
Degraded mass of animated dust!
Thy love is lust, thy friendship all a cheat,
Thy tongue hypocrisy, thy heart deceit!
By nature vile, ennobled but by name,
Each kindred brute might bid thee blush for shame.
Ye! who behold perchance this simple urn,
Pass on, it honors none you wish to mourn.
To mark a friend’s remains these stones arise;
I never knew but one—and here he lies.

-Lord Byron

Note: One thing I will say in contradiction to this wonderful poem, we will see our beloved four-legged friends again someday. I cannot believe that Our Lord, who loves us so, would let us be separated long from our faithful companions.


  1. While I suspect I am not 'the' Bill for whom this is meant, but as 'a' Bill who has lost a couple of very special dogs in my life, I'll speak on behalf of all the Bills out there in saying: Thank You!

    1. This is really for all of us who have lost a four-legged friend. You can count yourself in as you are a member of my tribe, for sure.

  2. Damned shame, and yeah, nothing tears a hole in your heart like the passing of a good and faithful dog. I've been down that road four times so far, and they've been four of the hardest days of my life. But each of those dogs brought me a lot more comfort and joy during our time together, so while the losses make me sad, the memories of our adventures together still make me smile.

    1. Being with them is wonderful, the memories help ease the time when they're gone.

  3. Good words, OAFS. If the Almighty created Man's Best Friend and gave him to us during our brief sojourn here, I cannot see Him omitting such beloved and beautiful creatures fromHis Presence in that which is to come.

  4. What a beautiful post and thank you Sarge. And yes it can apply to all of us who have lost a canine or feline friend. I've had 3 of these dogs; the first 2 got cancers at 7 and 9 years and I had the painful decision to ease their suffering. In such cases I have learned you give yourself more pain so they can have less. Is that not love?

    In Toby's case he lived to the ripe old age of 16 (if the claim by the pound - when I got him in 2007 was correct - he was 8 at the time). I can't say seeing him slowly deteriorate over the last year of so was easy either. It surprised me when he went - he was there last night - then he was gone.

    I believe like you that God created these animals for our companionship - as the old joke went the He created the dog to worship us and the cat to put us back in our place - and if Heaven is devoid of all animals but our human spirits, it would be a dull place indeed.

    They make life a bit more tolerable here.

  5. You are very correct William, our four legged friends do make life a bit more tolerable. Every one we lose hurts, but it helps to know that we have given them a good life, and a part of us goes with them.

    1. They give us a piece of themselves, we give them a piece of ourselves.

  6. One of my favorite pieces of courtroom history.

    George Graham Vest - Tribute to the Dog

    George Graham Vest (1830-1904) served as U.S. Senator from Missouri from 1879 to 1903 and became one of the leading orators and debaters of his time. This delightful speech is from an earlier period in his life when he practiced law in a small Missouri town. It was given in court while representing a man who sued another for the killing of his dog. During the trial, Vest ignored the testimony, and when his turn came to present a summation to the jury, he made the following speech and won the case.

    Gentlemen of the Jury: The best friend a man has in the world may turn against him and become his enemy. His son or daughter that he has reared with loving care may prove ungrateful. Those who are nearest and dearest to us, those whom we trust with our happiness and our good name may become traitors to their faith. The money that a man has, he may lose. It flies away from him, perhaps when he needs it most. A man's reputation may be sacrificed in a moment of ill-considered action. The people who are prone to fall on their knees to do us honor when success is with us, may be the first to throw the stone of malice when failure settles its cloud upon our heads.

    The one absolutely unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous is his dog. A man's dog stands by him in prosperity and in poverty, in health and in sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground, where the wintry winds blow and the snow drives fiercely, if only he may be near his master's side. He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer. He will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounters with the roughness of the world. He guards the sleep of his pauper master as if he were a prince. When all other friends desert, he remains. When riches take wings, and reputation falls to pieces, he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey through the heavens.

    If fortune drives the master forth, an outcast in the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege than that of accompanying him, to guard him against danger, to fight against his enemies. And when the last scene of all comes, and death takes his master in its embrace and his body is laid away in the cold ground, no matter if all other friends pursue their way, there by the graveside will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad, but open in alert watchfulness, faithful and true even in death.

    1. Suddenly dusty in here...

      Thanks for sharing that Dave, beautiful.

  7. My new favorite line of all time:

    Who knows thee well, must quit thee with disgust,
    Degraded mass of animated dust!

    1. That is a good line. Byron had a way with words.

  8. Well, this post conjures many mental pictures, talk about a train of thoughts...
    I was born in Newfoundland and my dad had a dog named Toby who would run to the front gate and bark as he would if a visitor had arrived. The family Newfoundland Dog, Bruno, would shuffle toward the gate at which time Toby would dart into Bruno's warm bunk. I have had Black Labs and the best dog I ever hunted over was Kurli who never left a bird in the field. She even dove to get a duck and broke ice on one occasion. Reaching for my shotgun got her all excited and if I missed a shot which almost never happened, of course, she would whine until I threw out a duck for to retrieve. Kurli and I had many many conversations while in the field, she was knowledgeable in many disciplines and always helped me sort through all of my life's problems. It's amazing how that works and boy did she keep our conversations confidential, not a peep to anyone. She died in 87 but I think of her daily. There is more but I cant see the screen now.

    1. You never forget them, that's for sure.

      Sounds like you have had some fine canine friends!


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