December 19, 2009 5:39 AM   Subscribe

Please share your favorite poems/quotations about man's love for dog(s).
posted by corn_bread to Grab Bag (25 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
Look at Eugene O'Neills' "Last Will And Testament of Silverdeen O'Neill."

We are alone, absolutely alone on this planet; and amid all the forms of life that surround us, not one, excepting the dog, has made an alliance with us.
.......- Maurice Maeterlinck, Belgian poet and author

For my money, it's not really the dog who is dependent on us. We are dependent on them....for love, for companionship, for joy.
The dog is the only animal that has seen his god.
.....- Anonymous

God ... sat down for a moment when the dog was finished in order to watch it... and to know that it was good, that nothing was lacking, that it could not have been made better.
.....-Rainer Maria Rilke

Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring -- it was peace.
.....-Milan Kundera
posted by Mickelstiff at 5:49 AM on December 19, 2009

God I dog
posted by dragonsi55 at 6:02 AM on December 19, 2009

The tither was a ploughman's collie-
A rhyming, ranting, raving billie,
Wha for his friend an' comrade had him,
And in freak had 'Luath' ca'd him,
After some dog in Highland Sang,
Was made lang syne,-Lord knows how lang.

He was a gash an' faithfu' tyke,
As ever lap a sheugh or dyke.
His honest, sonsie, baws'nt face
Aye gat him friends in ilka place;
His breast was white, his tousie back
Weel clad wi' coat o' glossy black;
His gawsie tail, wi' upward curl,
Hung owre his hurdie's wi' a swirl.

This is the poor dog Luath in Burns' The Twa Dogs which is really a satire on the human world but the description is apparently of the poet's own dog of the same name (and after Cuchulain's hound in 'Highland Sang').
posted by Abiezer at 6:11 AM on December 19, 2009

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. —Groucho Marx
posted by dmd at 6:18 AM on December 19, 2009

Shit, or was it Twain?
posted by dmd at 6:19 AM on December 19, 2009

More about the dog's love of man than the other way around, but still good. The Dog by Ogden Nash:
The truth I do not stretch or shove
When I state that the dog is full of love.
I've also found, by actual test,
A wet dog is the lovingest.
posted by bjrn at 6:23 AM on December 19, 2009 [2 favorites]

"Ha muerto un pero by Pablo Neruda.

...And I, a materialist who doesn't believe
in the promise of heaven above
for any human being--
I do believe there's a heaven for this dog,
for all dogs
I believe in heaven, I do, I believe
there's a heaven I'll never enter,
yet he's waiting there for me
wagging his tail like a fan
so I'll have a friend there to greet my arrival.
There are no lies between us, and never were,
He passed on, and I buried him, and that was the end of it.

(translation mine)

I'm not that keen on this English translation, but it's the only complete one I can find.
posted by drlith at 6:23 AM on December 19, 2009

Oh, for an edit button! "Un perro ha muerto."
posted by drlith at 6:24 AM on December 19, 2009

Jimmy Stewart's A Dog Named Bo made me cry when I was 13.
posted by cloeburner at 6:42 AM on December 19, 2009 [2 favorites]

Well, that poem's not that great...maybe it's just seeing Jimmy Stewart cry that did me in.
posted by cloeburner at 6:44 AM on December 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Shit, or was it Twain?

posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:21 AM on December 19, 2009

There's this Kipling poem, although only the one line really sticks for me.
posted by dilettante at 7:26 AM on December 19, 2009

"It came to me that every time I lose a dog they take a piece of my heart with them. And every new dog who comes into my life gifts me with a piece of their heart. If I live long enough, all the components of my heart will be dog, and I will become as generous and loving as they are." - Unknown

"There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face." - Ben Williams

"I watch my dogs. They throw themselves into everything they do; even their sleeping is wholehearted. They aren't waiting for a better tomorrow, or looking back at their glory days. Following their example, I'm trying to stick to the present."- Abigail Thomas, "A Three Dog Life"

"The great pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him, and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself, too." - Samuel Butler

"A dog will never forget the crumb thou gavest him, though thou mayst afterwards throw a hundred stones at his head." - Sa'di

"No matter how little money and how few possessions you own, having a dog makes you rich." - Louis Sabin
posted by biscotti at 8:15 AM on December 19, 2009 [3 favorites]

Scratch a dog and you'll find a permanent job. ~Franklin P. Jones

Dogs feel very strongly that they should always go with you in the car, in case the need should arise for them to bark violently at nothing right in your ear. ~Dave Barry

You think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you, they will be there long before any of us. ~Robert Louis Stevenson

Excuse me, I have something in my eye.
posted by Fleebnork at 8:33 AM on December 19, 2009

"Plus j'voir les hommes, plus j'admire les chiens." (The more I see of men, the more I admire dogs.) -Marie de Rabutin-Chantal, marquise de Sévigné
posted by kuujjuarapik at 8:34 AM on December 19, 2009

This is a poem written by a dog:

Are you gonna eat that?
Are you gonna eat that?
Are you gonna eat that?
I'll eat that.

I forget where it's from, but my memory hears Garrison Keillor and Roy Blount, Jr.
posted by Jasper Fnorde at 8:41 AM on December 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

This is sort-of more about the mutual man/dog relationship, but I love it anyway (warning: it's brutal):

The Dog Sitters
by Edward Field

for Stanley and Jane

Old friends, we tried so hard
to take care of your dogs.
We petted them, talked to them, even slept with them,
and followed all your instructions
about feeding and care—
but they were inconsolable.
The longer you were gone
the more they pined for you.
We were poor substitutes,
almost worse than nothing.

Until you returned, days of worry
as each fell ill with fever, diarrhoea and despair,
moving about all night restlessly on the bed we shared.
We wakened at dawn to walk them,
but there was a mess already on the rug.
We called the vet, coaxed them to eat,
tried to distract them
from the terrible sadness in their eyes
every time they lay down with their chins in their paws
in utter hopelessness, and the puppy
got manic, biting our hands.

Ten days in the house by the bay
trying to keep them alive, it was a nightmare,
for they were afraid to go anywhere with us, for fear
you would never come back,
that they must be there waiting when you did,
until you did ... if you did... .

Then, the minute you got home
they turned away from us to you
and barely looked at us again, even when we left—
for you had filled the terrible empty
space that only you could fill,
and our desperate attempts
were dismissed without a thought.

We tried to tell each other it was a victory
keeping them alive, but the truth is
that when someone belongs so utterly to someone else,
stay out of it—that kind of love is a steamroller
and if you get in the way, even to help,
you can only get flattened.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:15 AM on December 19, 2009

Whatever you think of it, no such list is complete without Senator Vest's "Tribute to a Dog":
After the war he returned to Pettis County moving to Sedalia, Missouri and resumed his law practice. It was at this time in 1869 that Vest was asked to represent Burden and Old Drum in the case that would make him famous.

Vest took the case tried on September 23, 1870 in which he represented a client whose hunting dog, a foxhound named Drum (or Old Drum), had been killed by a sheep farmer. The farmer had previously announced his intentions to kill any dog found on his property; the dog's owner was suing for damages in the amount of $150, the maximum allowed by law.
During the trial, Vest stated that he would "win the case or apologize to every dog in Missouri." Vest's closing argument to the jury made no reference to any of the testimony offered during the trial, and instead offered a eulogy of sorts. Vest's "Eulogy on the Dog" is one of the most enduring passages of purple prose in American courtroom history (only a partial transcript has survived):
“Gentlemen of the jury: The best friend a man has in this 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 the 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 a man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him and the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous is his dog.

Gentleman of the jury: 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 against danger, to fight against his enemies, and when the last scene of all comes, and death takes the 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 his graveside will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad but open in alert watchfulness, faithful and true even to death.”
Vest won the case (a possibly apocryphal story of the case says that the jury awarded $500 to the dog's owner) and also won its appeal to the Missouri Supreme Court. A statue of the dog stands in front of the Warrensburg, Missouri courthouse.
posted by Jahaza at 10:09 AM on December 19, 2009 [2 favorites]

Oh! Oh! I have an answer!

On the Death of His Dog, Apples

Old mutt, asleep on your rug
but game into dotage
you'd sometimes yelp and work your legs
running rabbits in dreamland.

Thinned to bone by a bellyful of cancer
when the vet syringed your shaved vein
you looked at me as if we'd flushed a grouse,
ears perked, eyes startled

And when your eyes fogged and
your muzzle slumped in the crook of my arm,
I dreamed for you an upland meadow,
a clear brook of bright water,

hillsides full of pheasants
where rabbits frisked in bluebells,
where you dozed then rose to greet me,
wagging your tail as I crossed the creek.

--John Balaban
posted by lucy.jakobs at 10:12 AM on December 19, 2009 [3 favorites]

"Epitaph to a Dog," Lord Byron

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. 18, 1808.

When some proud Son of Man returns to Earth,
Unknown by 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,
Unhonoured falls, unnoticed all his worth,
Denied 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,
Debased 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 words deceit!
By nature vile, ennobled but by name,
Each kindred brute might bid thee blush for shame.
Ye, who perchance behold 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.
posted by decagon at 11:09 AM on December 19, 2009

"If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog." - Harry S Truman.

"Heaven goes by favor; if it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in." - Mark Twain.

"If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you; that is the principal difference between a dog and a man." - Mark Twain

"No matter how little money and how few possessions you own, having a dog makes you rich." - Louis Sabin

"My little dog - a heartbeat at my feet." - Edith Wharton.

"You can say any foolish thing to do to a dog, and the dog will give you a look that says, 'My God, you're right! I never would've thought of that!'" - Dave Barry
posted by Kattullus at 11:14 AM on December 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Don McKay - "Esthetique du Chien"

Among humans, only
baseball gloves and vulvas, organs
who embrace their guests in velvet,
can rival my dog's nose.

Say hello. Pat his noble head.
Feel him lift your aura gently
lead it through frescoed passages
down to the furry boudoir of his heart.

Sweet Georgia Brown.
This is where your glands hang out,
this is where the band makes
gravy, thickening the mix
with woofs and recollected howls. 'f you
don't like my taters how come you dig so deep
, saliva
burbling down the long trombone.
posted by tealsocks at 4:30 PM on December 19, 2009

This excellent, dignified quote by Henry Beston has been posted in other threads, but it bears repeating:

We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature, and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.
posted by headnsouth at 7:08 PM on December 19, 2009 [2 favorites]

A Dog's Purpose.
(via Reddit)
posted by dragonsi55 at 4:46 AM on February 3, 2010

Faith Shearin

My father, in middle age, falls in love with a dog.
He who kicked dogs in anger when I was a child,
who liked his comb always on the same shelf,
who drank martinis to make his mind quiet.

He who worked and worked—his shirts
wrapped in plastic, his heart ironed
like a collar. He who—like so many men—
loved his children but thought the money

he made for them was more important
than the rough tweed of his presence.
The love of my father's later years is
a Golden Retriever—more red

than yellow—a nervous dog who knows
his work clothes from his casual ones,
can read his creased face, who waits for
him at the front door—her paws crossed

like a child's arms. She doesn't berate him
for being late, doesn't need new shoes
or college. There is no pressure to raise her
right, which is why she chews the furniture,

pees on rugs, barks at strangers who
cross the lawn. She is his responsible soul
broken free. She is the children he couldn't
come home to made young again.

She is like my mother but never angry,
always devoted. He cooks for his dog—
my father who raised us in restaurants—
and takes her on business trips like

a wife. Sometimes, sitting beside her
in the hair-filled van he drives to make
her more comfortable, my father's dog
turns her head to one side as if

thinking and, in this pose, more than
one of us has mistaken her for a person.
We would be jealous if she didn't make
him so happy—he who never took

more than one trip on his expensive
sailboat, whose Mercedes was wrecked
by a valet. My mother saw him behind
the counter of a now-fallen fast food

restaurant when she was nineteen.
They kissed beside a river where fish
no longer swim. My father who was
always serious has fallen in love with

a dog. What can I do but be happy for him?
posted by pleasebekind at 10:53 AM on May 17, 2010

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