Another less eminent philosopher simply asked, "Boy, can you make folks feel what you feel inside?" The question is important. Why should you care about my dog?
I'll let Lord Byron answer, who wrote a beautiful but cynical (to Mankind, at least) epitaph to his late dog, Boatswain, some 200 years ago:
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.
Uh, She's Not a Dog. She's a People.
The dog was wrapped up in every moment of our lives. She (if only her tail) is in most pictures. Most videos. In most memories. Under the table, she would lie on my feet, keeping them warm all winter, as I studied for a big licensing exam. I vividly remember taking the red shirt I wore on the Sunday night that Jack came to us and introducing his smell. She was playful with it, almost silly. She seemed as glad as we were at his coming.
One of my most treasured birthday presents is this gorgeous oil painting of Belle done by my Aunt Dana. We spent untold thousands on the dog, buying everything from food to sheep dip to paying for the two (that's TWO) surgeries to remove
Belle would stand in the back of my little car, head on my right shoulder as I drove. She would lick the sweat off of my ear after every miserable Houston
I've got a thousand of these.
A righteous man knows the soul of his animal. -Proverbs 12:10Look, I know some of you aren't dog people. I know some of you are (in your own way), but will still shake your head when you read this, saying, "That guy's insane. It's just a dog. Get over it."
I fully realize that in the theological sense, any animal is in many ways less than one of us. (No animal needed or needs redemption from sin, for example.)* You yourselves have lost fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, friends, and the LORD help us all and forbid, children. I'm not pretending to understand the gravity and magnitude of that kind of loss. I wouldn't even dare to compare the two things.
But I know this: That animal had something. An immortal soul on par with ours? Most likely not. I read somewhere that theologians are generally willing to say that animals have the breath of life in them, and nothing more. As if that's something unimportant, that makes once inanimate objects wobble around and hum with a hollow life, like so many windup toys, doomed to one day wind down.
Friends and neighbors, I'm here to tell you there was something in that dog, behind those big brown iridescent eyes that was almost... human. I can't explain it, and don't really care to try. But if almighty GOD gave that animal the breath of life, then what life that was in her was from Him. And her spirit was so very, very good. It bettered us. It was a blessing to my family that I'm ever grateful for.
If you still think I'm nuts, fine. No real surprise, there. But I'd wager you never met my Llewellin.
I hope Jack will remember her. Majesty assures me that she remembers a favorite dog of hers when she was even younger than The Captain. I hope he does. Yet I'm so thankful that he's young enough not to understand death. And that I did not have to explain.
I'd like to think, as I told Belle in so many words, that what is GOD's will return to Him, even if it's only His breath. At least that seems logical to me. I think that in some sense, she did indeed run in ethereal meadows that night. But tonight, here in this house, it's far too quiet.
There's no other way to quite say it, the world is a little less... speckled.
*Now that I think about it, some of the late First Mate's hi jinks seem pretty darn near close to sins...