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October 20, 2008

It's in The Guardian so It Must Be True

By: Bernard Chazelle

Not sure what to make of this.

American researchers have discovered that owning a pet can significantly reduce your risk of a common cancer. And that's not all...

I am enormously fond of animals and willing to buy any crackpot theory that our pets are the best creatures ever put on this planet. I have the loveliest, most gorgeous cat in the world. I wish I had a dog, too (I grew up with one) but my schedule does not allow me the luxury.

If you think I've gone senile, you might be on to something, but it seems Lord Byron preceded me on that path:

Near this Spot
are deposited the Remains of one
who possessed Beauty without Vanity,
Strength without Insolence,
Courage without Ferocity,
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.

Byron wrote other things, too.

— Bernard Chazelle

Posted at October 20, 2008 08:52 PM

For I will consider my cat Geoffrey
For his tongue is exceeding pure so that it has in purity what it wants in music.
For he is docile and can learn certain things.
For he can set up with gravity which is patience upon approbation.
For he can fetch and carry, which is patience in employment.
For he can jump over a stick which is patience upon proof positive.
For he can spraggle upon waggle at the word of command.
For he can jump from an eminence into his master's bosom.
For he can catch the cork and toss it again.

--Christopher Smart, eminent psychotic and religious fanatic. From Jubilate Agno, 1758-1763.

Posted by: HP at October 20, 2008 10:46 PM

In 1870 George Graham Vest took a case representing a famer whose foxhound was shot by a sheep farmer when it trespassed onto his property. The owner was asking for restitution of $150, the maximum allowed by law. Vest claimed that he would win the case or apology to every dog in Missouri. This is part of his closing statement:

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.

Posted by: msw at October 21, 2008 11:04 AM

I have never owned a pet but have friends and family members who do and am amazed at how a cat comes and rubs her body against my leg!! and a dog wants to jump and sit next to me on the chair!! Have never understood that.

A Dog Has Died
by Pablo Neruda

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.

ps rest of the poem at

Posted by: Rupa Shah at October 21, 2008 12:37 PM

No, my cat is the lovliest and most gorgeous in the world!

Posted by: Cloud at October 21, 2008 01:02 PM

Someday look at Christopher Smart (a contemporary of Samuel Johnson) Jubilate Agno "For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry." It's the most extensive praise of a cat I've ever seen.

I particularly like the line:
For he purrs in thankfulness when God tells him he's a good Cat.


Posted by: John at October 22, 2008 08:45 AM

And sometimes it is the pet that survives the master. Wyslawa Szymborska has a fine poem on that, "Cat in an Empty Apartment." See

I promise to quit now.

Posted by: John at October 22, 2008 08:55 AM

John at 8:55 AM: Touching! I have seen pets running and going crazy with joy at the sight of individuals they are sharing their lives with, so it would be easy to imagine, they would be lost in their absence of an extended period ( rather permanent) of time..

Posted by: Rupa Shah at October 22, 2008 10:41 AM