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
Dr. Bekoff apparently sent a copy of my post to Dr. Mech, who responded with the following: "A quick scan of the Kelley article reveals much misinformation attributed to me. This misinterpretation and total misinformation like Kelley's has plagued me for years now. I do not in any way reject the notion of dominance."
Since I consider myself a neo-Freudian dog trainer, and since young puppies do exhibit behaviors that could be viewed as dominant and submissive, behaviors that take place before the pup's brains are fully developed (meaning they're the products of unconscious urges, not rational thought processes), these labels may not be as anthropomorphic as I thought.
My first mistake was referring to the concept of dominance as a myth. That's a charged word, one that carries with it the implication that scientists who have dedicated their lives to understanding animal behavior are all operating under some kind of mass delusion. I deeply regret making that insinuation, however unintentionally. In recent years, it's become fairly common in the dog training world for some of us to talk about "the myth of dominance" in a somewhat cavalier way. What's generally meant by this is that the idea of dominating a dog, as the basis for a training system, isn't based on real science and can be harmful to the human-canine bond. [I certainly don't disagree with this!]
Other interesting links:
You can download one of David Mech's latest articles here: http://www.canadianfieldnaturalist.ca/