Article: Farewell to an old friend: Beautiful prose

Views: 13, Replies: 4 » Jump to the end
Image Farewell to an old friend
By Lance Gardner on May 27, 2010

I have been meaning to write this farewell note to my old friend for a few weeks, now, but this somehow seemed like a very appropriate time.

» Read the article

ImageJaeRae
May 30, 2010 8:53 AM CST
Name: Jamie R
Zone 5, WI
save the rainforest & habitat
I have long had big poodles (standards) that have similar characteristics. The one I have now is young (4), my last one lived to be 17 (like Vizsla). I could relate to your comments: in his last year, mine still wanted to come upstairs to bed and I could not lift him entirely so we would work together. I would get behind him and he would do the front part and let me walk his hind legs by hand. (So many close moments we have with our loved ones). I really am touched by your farewell note; still wiping tears. I'd like to say I've never stolen anything but back in the 80's sometime I DID take a New Yorker mag from a docs office just because of these prose that I want to share:

ELEGY FOR A DEAD LABRADOR

Here there may be, in the midst of summer, a few days when suddenly it’s fall.
Thrushes sing on a sharper note.
The rocks stand determined out in the water. They know something. They have always known it.
We know it too, and we don’t like it.
On the way home, in the boat, on just such evenings, you would stand stock-still in the bow, collected, scouting the scents coming across the water. You read the evening, the faint streak of smoke from a garden, a pancake frying half a mile away, a badger standing somewhere in the same twilight sniffing the same way. Our friendship was of course a compromise; we lived together in two different worlds: mine, mostly letters, a text passing through life; yours, mostly smells.
You had knowledge I would have given much to have possessed:
the ability to let a feeling ---eagerness, hate, or love---run like a wave through your body from nose to tip of tail, the inability to ever accept the moon as a fact.
At the full moon you always complained loudly against it. You were a better Gnostic than I am. And consequently you lived continually in paradise.
You had a habit of catching butterflies on the leap and munching them, which some people thought disgusting. I always liked it.
Why couldn’t I learn from you?
And doors. In front of doors you lay down and slept, sure that sooner or later one would come who’d open up the door. You were right, I was wrong. I ask myself, now this long mute friendship is forever finished, if possibly there was anything I could do which impressed you. Your firm conviction that I called up the thunderstorms doesn’t count. That was a mistake.
I think my certain faith that the ball existed, even when hidden behind the couch, somehow gave you an inkling of my world. In my world most things were hidden behind something else. I called you “dog”.
I really wonder whether you conceived of me as a larger, noisier “dog”, or as something else, forever unknown, something that is what it is, existing in that attribute it exists in, a whistle in the nocturnal park one has gotten used to returning to without actually knowing what it is one is returning to. About you, and who you were, I knew no more.
One might say, from this more objective standpoint, we were two organisms. Two of those places where the universe makes a knot, in itself, short-lived, complex structures of proteins that have to complicate themselves more and more in order to survive, until everything breaks and turns simple once again, the knot dissolved, the riddle gone. You were a question asked of another question; nothing more, and neither had the answer to the other.

-Lars Gustafsson (translated from the Swedish by Yvonne L. Sandstroem)
Published in the New Yorker Magazine, Aug. 24, 1981.
Woman on the eastbound train
...........................................Je Suis Désolé.
(also a mule lovin', Charley huggin' girl)
ImageLance
May 30, 2010 6:54 PM CST
Name: Lance Gardner
coastal plain Virginia
Question authority, guide in wisdom
Thank you for reading the article, and taking the time to post such a lengthy response. I can see why it was published, and interpreted - thank you for putting it in here.
Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the ground -- the unborn of the future Nation. The Constitution of the Iroquois Nations.
Dogs; Family Fun Unplugged; Perennials, Annuals, Veggies; Happy Birthday Wishes
ImageJaeRae
May 30, 2010 8:18 PM CST
Name: Jamie R
Zone 5, WI
save the rainforest & habitat
Ha Ha! I LOVED your tribute to Vizsla. Just like the prose I sent, it made me cry. I take my relationships with dawgs very seriously and while bringing one home implys a promise to care for them (and outlive them...so this may be my last of several) they give so much back. I am glad for your ability in relative youth to think so whole-heartedly about your relationships with children and dawgs. And wish you the best.

Now...no fair laughing at me for having poodles. The breed has been, in so many cases, reduced to yappy little lap dawgs for old ladies dripping gold bracelets but the originals (and my 'standards') were/are NOT that, they have terrific agility as hunters and water dawgs and are incredibly intellegent. Woods walking and exploring, I wish I could keep up better.

Here's some history (excerpted from an article by Lee Weston (and I may have just violated a copywrite but to no harm)):

"The Poodle's history is shrouded in antiquity and hypothesis. By the 15th century we see dogs that actually resemble the Poodle as we know it, in writings and in art work It is believed by some that the poodle is the original water spaniel. It is known that the Poodle was, and even today, is used as a working hunter and duck retriever. The very stylish hair trim that is distinctive with the Poodle, and seen in conformation, actually has a real function and purpose. The Poodle's coat protects the dog from water and debris in the water, it buoys the dog, and adds insulation to keep the joints, and the rest of the dog, warm while working. The hindquarters of the dog is shaved so that the dog can swim more easily rather than being weighted down with the equivalent of a diaper and long footed pajamas.
Breed historians are in general agreement that the Poodle had its origins in Germany, with some influence from Russia and then became standardized as a distinct breed in France where it is the national dog. That is why many people today refer to the Poodle with the misnomer of "French" Poodle. In Germany the Poodle (from the German word pudel - meaning "to splash in water") was a very sturdy dog, that possessed two coat types, curly and corded. The corded type of coat is rarely seen in the United States, but is still in existence. The Russian variety was described as somewhat "greyhound" in body type.
We know that the Standard (sized) Poodle developed first...."

So Lance, keep loving and running with your kids and dawgs as long as you are able. These are precious moments of life.
Woman on the eastbound train
...........................................Je Suis Désolé.
(also a mule lovin', Charley huggin' girl)
ImageLance
May 31, 2010 5:23 AM CST
Name: Lance Gardner
coastal plain Virginia
Question authority, guide in wisdom
No laughing at poodles. I have read up on many breeds, and already knew there trim job was based on an old purpose, and that they are (if bred correctly) highly intelligent and useful dogs. I believe another beneficial attribute, as I watch my one black and one yellow lab shed like crazy in the already summer heat, is that they do not have the shedding and dander concern of most other dogs.
I will keep having fun with all of my critters, regardless of how many legs or how long the ears. I hope you will too.
Should you want to write up your own article on poodles, or any other dog topic, feel free to send it to me. You seem to have the ability, so go for it.
Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the ground -- the unborn of the future Nation. The Constitution of the Iroquois Nations.
Dogs; Family Fun Unplugged; Perennials, Annuals, Veggies; Happy Birthday Wishes
ImageJaeRae
May 31, 2010 9:19 AM CST
Name: Jamie R
Zone 5, WI
save the rainforest & habitat
Oh Thanks Lance. I do some writing and almost joined in on Sharon's writers group. We've been friends for quite some time and she's read some of my stuff and encouraged me but my feeling is that much of what I write and illustrate borders on sardonic or tragic scenario; don't think that would be appropriate. I haven't thought much about writing about dogs although I enjoy reading about people's animals generally.

I did do some journal when I went to get INX though. He was going to be bred but the breeder decided to retire the dam so the day I got notice, I packed a few things and hopped in my car for MO. He'd lived in an kennel with other dogs for his first 18 months, had never worn a collar or ridden in a car. In short, he was not happy with ME! I took an extra 2 days to get back, we stayed at dog friendly hotels, learned how to wear a leash and talked and talked. I explained everything to him about his new home and when we pulled in the drive, he knew where he was. We walked the perimeter and near every edge, I told him "Lot Line"...he marked all the trees (not unlike your son...BOY! did I giggle reading THAT article!...INX blesses my plants daily) and "lot line" became our understanding (our neighbors love that because they cross to visit him but he doesn't go there unless I okay it) so he never wears a leash except when we go out in public (because it's the law...and I'm pretty sure he understands that too).

I don't yet, but wish I had a digital picture of my last one who was similarly intellegent but very different looking (because that one was bred for show then sold because he was showing signs of hip dysplasia); much larger and more sculptured. However, here's a digital of Inky (he was named that when I got him so I figured he'd had enough change and left his name alone). His clip is different now, I used to get him groomed but do it myself now so these days, he's less fru-fru, and his tail is flagged. This PIX shows his sweet little face best though, the black ones are hard to photgraph unless the lighting is just right.

I like that you know about various breeds, maybe I'm too sensitive about it but here in WI, standard poodles are rare so the image is as I described. If only people really knew what a real poodle IS, they wouldn't snicker.

Thumbnail by JaeRae

Woman on the eastbound train
...........................................Je Suis Désolé.
(also a mule lovin', Charley huggin' girl)

« Back to the top
« Cubits.org homepage
« Dogs - Everything You Ever Wanted to Know cubit homepage
« Article: Farewell to an old friend

Only subscribed members of this cubit may reply to this thread. There is a "Join this cubit" button at the bottom of this page.

Dogs - Everything You Ever Wanted to Know

We hope to be able to help everyone know and understand their pet dogs better. This cubit will include dog training of all sorts. Dog experts and amateurs will hopefully interact here in order to gain more and better knowledge about "Man's Best Friends"

» Home
» Forums
» Articles
» Store
» Database

Cubit owners:

Admin team:

Please add to our dog foods database.
Lee Anne (threegardeners) has a dog breeds database in Pets.