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.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Situations and relationships

On occasion, this blog will become ruminative, which is a slightly more winy (not whiny) version of reflective.
This rumination, with no literature to back it up, is occasioned by my realisation that, whereas hitherto I've had the situation of a new puppy in a new home, which lots of books had lots to say about, I now have on my hands a relationship, which is to say a highly individuated (I think the word is from Hopkins, or even Duns Scotus, otherwise it would sound insufferably psychobabble) puppy growing into a dog and needing to make it clear all the way to me. Situations are static, relationships are dynamic. We are beyond what the books can tell us; we are at the coalface of raw interaction. This, I imagine, is what parents feel when their kid moves off beyond the margins and boundaries of Dr Spock into the wild uncharted area of teenagehood. It's terra incognita, it's Where the Wild Things Are. The testing of the boundaries is, of course, tiresome, but then one realises that it's exactly proportionate to a growing sense of interdependence. In short, Simon is being bloody impossible because he's realising that  for better or for worse he's stuck with me for the time being (and alas for him, unlike most teenagers, for the rest of his or my natural life.)
Is this a lament? By no means. Of course the puppy stage, which mainly required cuddling, was wonderful. But who wouldn't rather have a relationship than a situation?

After that, the photos are bound to seem arbitrary. Photographically, my relationship so far has meant I take the photos and he poses for them.  A bit like Diane Arbus and Susan Sontag , if you really think about it.


  1. Keep posting Michiel, I'm enjoying your blog. If you didn't mind I would put the pic of Simon wearing the waste bin lid on my blog with a link - I seem to have a few doggie-minded followers who would appreciate it. Simon might enjoy a video of our own Eddie and a special friendship on a neighbouring island, which I posted last week at
    (sorry for the long link). If you do watch it, sound is important..

  2. Thanks Mike, Good to know there's someone out there. And yes, I needed the nudge -- haven't blogged for a while, just because ordinary non-bloggable Life has been exacting a bit more than its ordinary toll of late. But Simon's well and growing, and will be on-line again soon. In the meantime, many thanks for the link, which I'm going to watch NOW.