23 January 2015


I have occasionally infuriated dog-lovers by referring to the species canis lupus familiaris as
     Man's oldest and filthiest friend.
Because canine coprolites have been found, have been lovingly excavated, at Bronze Age sites such as Amesbury.

Warden Sparrow, de quo antea, famously spoke of the Dog as
     That indefatigable and unsavoury engine of pollution.

When out walking in unfamiliar countryside, one always knows when one has got within an easy radius of a carpark. However, is it fair to condemn dogs? Certainly not. Dog-owners, yes. I know a slipway in Cornwall where fish is brought in; the National Trust, who own it, were driven a few years ago to ban dogs from the slipway and to provide for the dogs and their walkers a simple pleasant alternative footpath away from the fishy area. And I know beaches galore with clear notices banning dogs between March and September. But dogs can't read. Can the Dogwalking Tendency read? What would be your guess?

But stay: I have forgotten Ringwood, the last echoes of whose deep full voice can still by the very sensitive ear be heard, baying Et in Arcadia ego in the Kentissimi horti at Rousham in this County. His "Master and Friend", Sir Clement Cottrell-Dormer, had this "otterhound of extraordinary sagacity" buried in the Vale of Venus in front of the very statue of the Goddess reflected in the waters of her pool, nuda sed pudica but dangerously overlooked by Faunus and Pan, only feet from the river Cherwell where Ringwood had worked such havoc in the otter population. There, since those last years of the reign of His Eminent Majesty King Henry IX, his doggy wraith has surely mingled at dusk in the dances of the insubstantial dryads and naiads. Is Ringwood the canine nature's solitary boast?

Tomorrow, we move on to wolves.


S Thorfinn said...

‘Yes,’ said Father Brown, ‘I always like a dog, so long as he isn’t spelt backwards.’

GOR said...

“But dogs can’t read”

Many US Post Offices used to have a sign that read: “No dogs allowed – except seeing-eye dogs”

As one comedian perspicaciously enquired: “Who is that sign intended for…?”

Yes, dogs make messes. They must be beloved of our Holy Father, right?