This is a blog inspired by the acquisition of a new puppy (Simon, a Dobermann, born 15/11/2010). However, since even I don't really believe the emotional life of a puppy can sustain a blog indefinitely, I'm combining such reflections as Simon's progress gives rise to with my other indulgence, books. So this will be about books and dogs, in particular books about dogs, and dogs in books. There'll also be plenty of photos of Simon.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

So many firsts

I suppose parents are used to this, and I'm not advancing it as a novel insight, but hell, the world must be  a dizzying place for a young animal: all those new sights, sounds, smells. Especially of course smell if you're a dog.
I've been watching Simon deal with all the firsts in his life: first car trip, first meal out,as it were, first sight of a guinea fowl, first night out (photo above; it wasn't quite as restful all the time). The fact is, of course, as parents presumably know, that the young animal takes it all pretty much in his stride (well, that's not the best metaphor, I suppose), meeting it all with the blandness of innocence. Just as well, really, that he doesn't know what horrors are out there. To get literary about this, the Greek tragedians were much exercised by the question of whether anybody would want to be born if they knew what was waiting for them (answer: by and large, no).
Of course, not all first experiences can be negotiated on a basis of trusting innocence. Take staircases, for instance: you may be able to get up without a problem, but can you get down?
 The text for the day is once again from Philip Larkin. As far as I know this otherwise admirable poet wrote no poems about dogs (which may explain his habitual moroseness), but he did write about cattle, racehorses, rabbits (I'll spare you the poem about the rabbit; it's called 'Myxamatosis', if you want to depress yourself) and, in this instance, lambs.
First Sight
Lambs that learn to walk in snow
When their bleating clouds the air
Meet a vast unwelcome, know
Nothing but a sunless glare.
Newly stumbling to and fro
All they find, outside the fold,
Is a wretched width of cold.
 As they wait beside the ewe,
Her fleeces wetly caked, there lies
Hidden round them, waiting too,
Earth's immeasurable surprise.
They could not grasp it if they knew,
What so soon will wake and grow
Utterly unlike the snow.
For once, Larkin takes the cheerful view: some surprises may be pleasant, life may improve. As I look at Simon newly stumbling to and fro, I can only hope  that the wretched width of cold is not a precondition for that.

1 comment:

  1. Michiel - I look forward to Simon's ongoing adventures, it's a nice idea to tie the blog around his perspective on life, literature obviously raising its ugly head from time to time (the possibilities are endless..) Good luck with it, you're obviously picking up followers already! By the way, until you dropped in that he was a Dobermann I thought he was a Rottweiler, as he looks so like my mum's Rotty as a pup, but perhaps the longer nose gives him away. We have a Westie, somewhat at the other end of the doggie scale. You mention Jock of The Bushveld - I posted a blog about Jock a few weeks ago:
    M :)